NEW DELHI: Amid exam boycott threat by Jawaharlal Nehru University (
) students, the government is looking to break the impasse with a rollback of service and utility charges for hostels as well as withdrawal of cases against students.
The students will, in return, be asked to hold discussions and not ‘gherao’ administrative blocks in future, make up for lost study time and accept reasonable increases in some of the hostel charges, those privy to the ongoing discussions told ET.
JNU students have been protesting since October 28 – mainly over the administration’s decision to hike the hostel charges mid-session with a new manual.
The students plan to march to Rashtrapati Bhavan on Monday and also boycott exams. The issue has been taken up in Parliament and has also been discussed in detail by the Human Resource Development ministry with both Home Minister Amit Shah and the Prime Minister’s Office.
The Centre is discussing a possible solution to end the crisis. ET gathers that it has been proposed that the JNU administration reach out to the student community and end the atmosphere of ‘confrontation’.
The reachout will involve rollback of new hostel charges — namely service charges and utility charges. Since the varsity has cited fund shortage for the hostel fee hike, the University Grants Commission will be asked to step in restore the University funding and the hostel staff expenses can be adjusted against non-teaching vacancies from next year.
Students, however, will be asked to consider accepting the other hostel charges—non service, utility charges—that are on a par with all other central universities.
It has further been proposed that the JNU Student Union be notified as per elections conducted by the Election Committee as there is no legal hurdle in doing the same.
Lastly, the University administration is proposed to withdraw the police cases filed against students last month and reschedule the exams to give more time to students to prepare. In turn, students will be asked to work through the winter break to make up for the lost time.
JNU students are expected to call off their agitation and end the siege of the administration building and give some kind of commitment that they will rely on dialogue to resolve issues in the future rather than ‘gherao’ the varsity officials.
While the Centre’s high-powered committee’s report on the JNU fee hike is yet to be made public, ET gathers that is frowned upon the mid-session fee hike and lack of stakeholder consultation by the JNU administration on the issue.
It has said that there should be no alteration of fees during the middle of the academic session and should be done at the start of the next session if required. The committee has emphasised that any change in the JNU Inter Hostel Association manual should be done only after proper discussion with participation of all the members.
On the fund shortage issue cited by the University to justify the fee hike, the committee has said that to tide over the present crisis MHRD, UGC may provide funds to meet the shortfall. It has also advocated that all possible alternate sources of funding ,including
from government, alumni and philanthropist, should also be explored. The committee has emphasised that any major policy changes by the administration should be widely discussed with all the stakeholders to ensure constructive participation of all in the process.
The committee has further underlined that the manner of dealing with the salaries of the university’s hostel staff should be a policy decision that needs to be taken by MHRD and UGC and not the university.