Decision after institution discontinues aid to backward class students
Nearly 300 students from the four campuses of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai, Hy derabad, Guwahati and Tuljapur have come together to declare that they will not pay fees in protest against the authorities’ decisions to discontinue financial aid to those from reserved categories and make submission of Aadhaar details by the students mandatory.The TISS administration had issued a circular on May 25, saying that they would register attendance using students’ biometrics and that it was mandatory for all students to submit their Aadhaar details.

In a letter to the administration seeking clarifications, protesting students have said that the circular is a violation of the Supreme Court’s directions and could cause students without an Aadhaar card to lose their admission.

“That clarification is absolutely meaningless as it states that the institute is only following University Grants Commission guidelines.UGC guidelines are just recommendations and not binding,“ said a third-year student, pursuing a bachelor’s degree from the Hyderabad campus.

“It must be noted that students from Manipur and Assam do not possess a UID,“ read the students’ statement to the media.

The statement also condemned the management’s decision to release the circular when students were on holiday and scattered across the country. It also urged the management to refrain from making such decisions in the future, without the presence of a student’s union to act as a representative. “How can they cease aid after a year?“ said the student. According to the student, at least 100 students will be forced to drop out due to non-availability of financial assistance. Alleging that new entrants were not informed of this, he added, “This makes the institute more elitist as it will exclude the marginalised sections,“ he said.

The students have made a few demands in a letter addressed to the registrar of the institute and said they would boycott the fee till their de mands are met. The students have sought a fair extension of date as many of them who are from socio-economically deprived background will find it difficult to pay fee by June 6.

They said that they should not be threatened with termination of admissions or denial of entry into the hostels.They have also sought reinstatement of financial aid to students from the economicallyweaker section and asked for further extensions on a caseby-case basis. Their final de mand is that the institute should withdraw the circular making Aadhaar card mandatory for admissions.

“With multiple states yet to grant scholarship funds to students, and due to some states not recognizing TISS as a deemed, centrally funded university , students have no means of availing scholarships provided by their states, thus making it difficult for them to even pay a portion of the fee as instructed,“ the students wrote to the registrar.

Students say that after several consultations, the management had agreed to provide an extension of one month to affected students. The last date for payment of fees is June 8. When contacted, TISS director S Parasuraman said, “We do not have the resources but we are trying to develop an alternate mechanism to raise funds.“ He added that it would cost Rs 16 crore to take care of the expenses incurred by the students.