More than 700 Students from the Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Punjab have written a letter demanding Fee Relief measures to various key functionaries of Punjab, including CM Capt. Amrinder Singh, Chief Justice (Punjab & Haryana High Court) and Higher Education Minister (Government of Punjab).
The students have expressed the plight of their family’s economic conditions due to the economic stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and extended lockdowns. They further claim that due to the premature closure of campus (within one-and-a-half months) and the subsequent declaration of Summer Vacations, a major portion of fees already paid for the February-May semester remains unspent. Notably, despite being a State University (established by the RGNUL Act of 2006), the annual fees charged run exorbitantly high to around 2.5 lakhs.
The four key demands of the students were –
- Exemption of Annual Increase in Tuition Fees for the next academic session; and
- Rebate in Late Fees (if any) applicable on payment of fees; and
- Partial Refund of ‘Fees’ already paid in lieu of the Balance (‘Fees’ including but not limited to Amenities Fee, Moot Court Fee, Mess Fee, Campus Development Fund, a portion of Hostel Rent which remains unutilized); or
- Adjustment of the Balance by appropriate monetary relief in next semester fees.
Students, at the same time, expressed their concern for the University’s obligations to pay salaries to the RGNUL staff as well as the fixed costs that are to be borne. The letter reads as follows:
We are conscious of the University’s liability to remunerate the teaching/non-teaching staff members of RGNUL family and other expenditures which, notwithstanding the closure of the campus, are to be duly made. However, it does not seem rational and prudent to charge the fees for the entire semester while the routine in-campus activities have been functional for just one and a half months. Further, the teachers have conducted classes and internal assessment for the semester through various online mediums. Hence, we assert that our request for the relief(s) is without prejudice to the portion of fees which are being spent by the University on salary remuneration to teaching/non-teaching staff.
The students demand an adjustment only in lieu of that portion of fees that went unutilised, including Mess Fees, Moot Court Fees, Campus Development Fund, Heath Centre Fees, Gym facility Fees, etc.
Further, they pointed out another set of expenditures that have been avoided due to the closure of the campus, namely – internet, electricity, water, commodities, and other utilities. The letter asks for a proper accounting of the fees, accrued for Feb-May Semester, by an ex-ante and ex-post comparison for the period.
The representation ends on a positive note expressing hope in the authorities to give due compassionate consideration to the issue and grant them fee relief.
The complete letter can be found below. (Find the PDF version in the link)