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With steep fee hike, Jawaharlal Nehru University leaves many foreign students out in the cold

Under JNU's new fee policy for International students, there has been a 100 per cent rise for the in-absentia category.

, ET Online|
Jul 18, 2019, 05.55 PM IST
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Agencies
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Earlier, there used to be a clear distinction between the fee structures for in-absentia and CBT and/or viva-voce category.
Almost 40 Tibetan refugee students residing in India who cleared the Jawaharlal Nehru University Entrance Examination (JNUEE) this year could not take admission because of a steep fee hike.

Under JNU's new fee policy for International students, there has been a 100 per cent rise for the in-absentia category and a striking 1400 per cent (courses in Science Disciplines) and 900 per cent (courses in Humanities and Social Science) rise for foreign students who clear the entrance through computer-based test (CBT) and/or viva-voce.

For the in-absentia category, the fee for courses in Science Disciplines was raised from $850 (including incidental charges) to $1700 (including incidental charges) per semester. The fee for courses in Humanities and Social Science was raised from $600 (including incidental charges) to $1200 (including incidental charges) per semester.

For foreign students who reside in India and take admission through JNUEE (which is a computer-based test), the fee for courses in Science Disciplines and Humanities and Social Science was raised from $100 (plus Rs 250 incidental charges per semester) to $1700 and $1200 (including incidental charges) per semester, respectively.

Earlier, there used to be a clear distinction between the fee structures for in-absentia and CBT and/or viva-voce category.

In-absentia category is for those foreign national applicants who did not have to appear in JNUEE but had to pay a higher fee to reserve their seats. On the other hand, foreign applicants belonging to the CBT and/or viva-voce category had to clear JNUEE — the same system as the one for general category applicants.

"The fee hike is unfair to Tibetan students who, being refugees, do not have a strong financial background. As far as I know, almost 40 such students had cleared the JNUEE this year but just four of them were able to arrange for and pay the fee for the first semester," said a source who would not like to be named, and who is actively involved in a personal capacity in helping Tibetan students with the admission process.

Yangchen Dolma, one of the four students who were able to block their seats, said, "I had no idea about the fee hike until the time came to block my seat. I was to receive a scholarship but the money didn't arrive on time. My parents were worried that the scholarship delay could cost me a year, so they arranged the amount from somewhere."

Dolma was able to pay US $1200 (Rs 82,440) towards her first-semester fees. But unlike Dolma, 36 of her fellow Tibetan students were unable to make the payment to secure admission. They are now looking for admission in other universities, the source said.

"The new fee is too much to even consider paying. I will now have to let go of this good university even though I got selected," said Tenzin Choezin, who had cleared the entrance to the Philosophy (MA) course.

JNUSU President S Balaji says, "There have been multiple attempts to hike fee in the past. But this time they came up with 100 per cent fee hike for foreign students. The new policy has come up as a cover-up for the massive financial mismanagement by the administration."

According to Balaji, JNU used to be the top pick for students from third-world countries because of its top-notch education at an affordable fee. But now with the new "stupid" fee policy, the university could soon end up losing this title.

A circular from All India Students’ Association (AISA) has demanded that the "JNU Admin immediately go into consultation with international students' association and roll back the fee hike".

JNU's Director of Admissions, Joint Registrar (Admissions) and Section Officer (Admission-II) did not respond to emailed questions on the matter from Economictimes.com.

For this story we caught up with a JNU student from a SAARC nation. Ojaswini Rai, a 2nd-year student of MA (Sociology) from Nepal, agreed to respond to our questionnaire. Here's what she had to say:

What do you think about the fee hike for international students?
'Foreign Nationals' doesn't mean they all come from well-to-do families. This is particularly true of people coming from a country like mine — not many job opportunities, no good scholarships and in some remote places even no electricity.

Being a neighbouring country and knowing we are not a developed or even a developing nation, they should have had some special rules for us. We aren't from any affluent nation in the West.

How much did you pay when you first enrolled in JNU?
$100 plus the incidental charge of Rs 250.

Do you also need to pay the revised fee for the new semester or you are exempted from it?
The fee revision is for new students only.

Why do you think did the administration raise the fee this year?
Probably because we don't have to pay tax — so it's a way of extracting money from the foreigners.

Or they might use the money for the education of the unfortunate. There is a possibility of corruption, too.

Do you know anyone from any SAARC country who had cleared the entrance but couldn't pay the fee?
No, I don't.
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