In the run up to International Literacy Day, Ambedkar University is facing flak and protests for removing fee waivers for students who belong to historically marginalised communities.
New Delhi’s Ambedkar University is planning to do away with 100% fee waivers for students who come from Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) backgrounds, as well as for Persons With Disability (PWD).
Why Is Ambedkar University Removing Fee Waivers?
The situation came to light when an SC student – who had been accepted in the provisional admissions list for the MBA course – realised that her registration portal was displaying a requirement for full fee payment, amounting to ₹1.18 lakh.
The student shared her statement with the Indian Express:
With this incoming policy, students will be offered fee waivers only if their income certificates prove that their family’s annual income is less than ₹3 lakh per annum. An income-based fee waiver is problematic, because for someone whose family income is marginally more than ₹3 lakhs, a fee of ₹1.18 lakhs is still very high.
Prior to this admission season, this caveat did not exist for students from aforementioned groups.
The University claims to be altering the existing policies in accordance to the Government of India (GOI) and Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) rules. However, there has been no official communication to applicants of these changes, despite it directly affecting the incoming student population.
On Monday, students gathered to protest this proposed change (which, sources say will be passed without much change come September 8th). According to the students, the new Vice Chancellor has initiated this (and similar) changes which disproportionately impact students from marginalised communities.
Other universities such as Tata Institute for Social Sciences (TISS) and National Law School, Bangalore have also previously undertaken similar policy changes regarding fee waivers and relaxations for SC, ST and OBC students.
Why Reservations Are Important
This move can only be considered ironic, given Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s legacy and the still pressing need to provide financial reparations to dalit, bahujan and adivasi people after centuries of discrimination and disenfranchisement. India’s history with accessibility for people with disabilities is not very positive either.
The existence of fee waivers still does not sufficiently touch upon the complexity and history of the issue, and of the various obstacles disadvantaged communities face.
International Literacy Day is an important reminder that education remains a privilege for millions across the world. In India, in particular, certain communities have faced additional social and financial restrictions when it comes to obtaining an education.
Even in the 21st century, atrocities against minorities are rampant. Removing policies which encourage and support students from marginalised communities will serve as an obstruction to a basic human right — that of access to education.
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