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JNU Tibetan students urge CTA, MHRD to help resolve 1000% fee hike

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The campus gate of Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi (Image-Telegraph India)
The campus gate of Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi (Image-Telegraph India)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, Sept. 4: In an urgent appeal letter by Tibetan students at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi, urged the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) and the Indian Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) to act upon the massive fee hike imposed on them under the foreign student category.

The letter remarked that the increased fee structure is not “in correspondence to article 6 (clause B & C) of the Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy 2014, passed by the Union government of India for Tibetan refugees.”

The exorbitant fee hike was first implemented last year, the same year a total of 42 Tibetan students passed the entrance through foreign quota but only 10 students were able to pay the increased fee. Three students dropped out from their respective programs in the following semester as they could not pay the hiked fee. The fee was raised in 2019 from $200 per year to $2400 for Humanities (INR 1,82,400) and $3400 for Sciences (INR 2,58,400) per year excluding food and lodging charges. 

The letter detailed their attempt to discuss this issue with higher authorities including MHRD, JNU Administration, CTA, and the Bureau Office of HH the Dalai Lama but the issue is not nearing any resolution. Desperate students have appealed to the concerned authorities to resolve the matter through administrative dialogue between the Tibetan administration and the Indian government. 

Thinlay Namgyal, an MA scholar who joined JNU last year, told Phayul, “It was pretty tough from the beginning. When I got through the entrance, I was surprised at the changed fee structure which asked for $1200 per semester. My family and I discussed the matter and decided that we will go ahead with it with the hope that the issue might get resolved in the new future.

“Since then, I’ve had second thoughts about whether to continue my studies or not due to the financial burden. Most aspiring college students may not apply this year solely because of this. It not only impacts us but also the coming batches.”

A similar incident of fee hike was resolved at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) with the help of the Tibetan government-in-Exile. Similarly, Delhi University has a large Tibetan student community where they pay a similar fee like the general students. Esteemed institutions like JNU and Jamia Millia Islamia continues to charge Tibetans similar to foreigners from the US, Europe, Australia, Korea, Japan, China, Thailand, Vietnam among others.

Passang, an MSc student told Phayul, “JNU’s fee used to be affordable with quality education but now it has become very expensive. I thought about dropping out but I also didn’t want to waste the tuition fee I’ve already spent. I pay more than INR 1, 20,000 per semester and the rate varies with dollar market fluctuations.

“It is not only about us; the JNU environment is considered the best for academic pursuit and it will beneficial for young Tibetans to be part of such a community. I hope this issue reaches higher institutions and resolves soon. Since it is a move by a central university, there is also a risk of other universities following suit.”

JNU previously recognised the special status of Tibetans in India as the tuition fee was only relatively higher than the general students. The change in policy by the university administration has impacted students and their families from lower-income backgrounds. Phayul’s queries to Pema Yangchen, the Minister of Education, CTA for a comment on the matter has not been responded yet.

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