By Jigme Wangchuk*
(TibetanReview.net, Jul10’19) – The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi has revised its fee structure regarding foreign students applying for the university. Tibetan students, whose diasporic status was previously recognized by the university, have not been exempted from the newly revised fee structure. Under this revision of the tuition fee, the annual tuition fee for Tibetan students have increased almost twenty-fold compared to previous years.
The JNU administration, however, did not officially announce the revised fee structure for Tibetan and SAARC students. After the results of the JNUEE (Entrance Examination) were declared in June, Tibetan students who had applied for various courses were left in a lurch when the university stated that Tibetans and SAARC countries would be liable to pay the same tuition fee as is levied on international students.
As ascribed in JNU’s online prospectus, international applicants (excluding SAARC countries and Tibetans) can apply in the in-absentia category where they are not required to appear in the entrance exam. SAARC and Tibetan students, who are required to give the entrance examination, are admitted in the university as foreign students who have appeared in the entrance examination. However, under the newly-revised fee structure, the university will exact the same tuition from SAARC and Tibetan students as that of international students applying via the in-absentia category.
The new fee structure has resulted in an exorbitant rise in tuition fee for Tibetan students. For example, the fee for courses in Humanities which amounted to $200 ($100 per semester) annually last year has been hiked up to $2400 per year. Fee for science courses at the university has increased to almost $3000 a year ($1500 per semester); these figures exclude incidental charges and taxes. Additionally, there are concerns from the students that the fee might not include hostel and mess charges. Many Tibetan students who have passed the JNU entrance exam this year have not registered for their respective courses due to hike in the tuition fee.
Tibetan students who have been enrolled in the university have protested against this revision of norms by the university administration. The office of the Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama is believed to have recently approached the university administration to appeal the case of Tibetan students but have been met with little success. Other representatives of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile have also approached the university concerning the issue. Some prospective Tibetan applicants who were in Dharamshala met with the Tibetan Prime Minister Lobsang Sangay to voice their concerns.
Unlike international students, most Tibetan students complete their schooling in India as refugees in schools affiliated with and recognized by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). Because of their special status, Tibetans have been granted relaxations in their tuition fee and are admitted through the foreign category in Delhi University where they are required to pay the same tuition fee as other general Indian students. Earlier in April 2019, The Tibetan Journal reported that the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) had taken special consideration of the Tibetan students and had granted them exemption from paying tuition fee ascribed for international students.
The Jawaharlal Nehru University has intermittently served as the focal point of controversy in recent years. Some decry that the administration has introduced ‘detrimental’ changes in the norms of the university without taking the consternation of its students under consideration.
* Jigme Wangchuk is a former journalist at The Quint and NewsX