The Centre has asked a panel set up to resolve the ongoing stand-off at Jawaharlal Nehru University to compare its current hostel fee structure with those of other central universities, especially those located in the national Capital. The panel was also asked to discuss the issue with JNU Vice-Chancellor.
The Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry sent a letter to the three members of its high-power committee on Tuesday, a week after the panel submitted its report with recommendations on ways to resolve the crisis.
The panel, which comprises former University Grants Commission (UGC) chairperson V.S. Chauhan, current UGC Secretary Rajnish Jain and All India Council for Technical Education chairperson Anil Sahasrabudhe, had submitted its report after a week of consultations with student representatives, hostel presidents, teachers and university deans. Vice-Chancellor M. Jagadesh Kumar did not meet the panel members during that process.
In its letter, the HRD Ministry referred to the panels report, which has not been made public despite repeated demands from JNUs student leaders and teachers association. In order to examine the matter further, it is requested that the committee may please get the comparative analysis of the hostel charges of JNU [after the second roll-back was announced] vis-a-vis other central universities particularly located in New Delhi, said the letter.
The committee is also requested to discuss with the Vice-Chancellor, JNU, to get the administrations perspective of the entire issue, added the letter. The panel was asked to provide the Ministry with these inputs at the earliest.
The students agitation, which has involved mass marches, a lathi-charge by the police and a planned boycott of examinations, revolves around the JNU administrations decision to hike hostel fees.
Monthly room rent was hiked from 20 for a single room to 600, and from 10 to 300 for a double sharing room, apart from introducing new service and utility charges of about 2000 per month.
The university revised the hike twice in the wake of protests, halving service and utility charges for all students and offering a 75% reduction for those below the poverty line. However, the students have demanded a complete roll-back of the hike in fees.