By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, DEC 3: The Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the Indian capital urged the Jawaharlal Nehru University to exempt Tibetan students from the exorbitant 100% fee hike which was implemented for all the new foreign students in July. More than 40 Tibetan students had to withdraw their admission due to the massive fee hike. The JNU administration increased the tuition fee from $100 to $1200 for social sciences and $1700 for sciences per semester.
In the letter dated Nov 27, the Bureau Office has urged the ministries of external affairs and Human Resource Development (HRD) for an “urgent intervention” in the matter. It has requested a Tibetan-specific directive be issued as per the provisions of the home ministry’s Tibetan Rehabilitation policy to all universities including JNU. HRD ministry has sought a report on the matter from the JNU administration.
The Office has pointed out that the Tibetan students have mostly studied in Indian schools or schools under the ministry’s autonomous Central Tibetan Schools Administration. These students are trained in either CBSE or ICSE/ISC school curriculums as they have been taught the same courses and languages required for these boards. For higher studies, young Tibetans seek admission in universities across India including Delhi University (DU) and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). They mostly seek admission under the foreign quota category which has helped the new generation of Tibetans to aspire for higher studies. Both DU and JNU have Tibetan students studying under this same directive from the centre.
This exorbitant hike in the tuition fees does not recognise the refugee status of Tibetans living in exile and are asked to pay the same fee as a foreigner. This development has also impacted the SAARC countries including Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan, and Bhutan. Tibetan students have to get through the entrance exam by giving the registration fee of 2500 rupees opposed to 300-500 rupees for the general/SC/ST/OBC category. Many young aspiring students give entrance exams from which only a few get selected for every course.
JNU recognised the special status of Tibetans in India as the tuition fee was only relatively higher than the general students but similar to foreign students who give the entrance in India. The admissions this year only saw a handful of Tibetans getting admission after paying the increased fee along with hostel and mess charges. The issue emerged in July when BA, MA, MPhil candidates were asked to pay the fee online to ‘block’ their seats for the same.
JNU’s recent protests at the university against the fee hike of their tuition, hotel and mess charges have once again opened up discussions regarding the international students’ fee hike which have impacted students from lower financial backgrounds.