On-campus academic activities in Quaid-e-University (QAU) Islamabad remain suspended as the protest lodged by the students against what they claim is an ‘unjustified’ fee hike enters its ninth day.
The protesting students have unequivocally vowed to continue the protest until the QAU administration officially announces to withdraw the notification of fee hike and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration quashes all the cases registered against them in the wake of the protest.
According to details, the first semester fee of BS programs was Rs. 59,740 in 2019. Despite the economic crunch due to the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the QAU administration notified an increase of a whopping 27% in the first semester fee of BS programs and raised it to Rs. 76,030.
Note that the 2020 fee hike not only was inexplicable amid the Coronavirus pandemic but it also violated the QAU Act 1973 which enshrines only a 5% fee increase per annum.
Adhering to the 1973 Act this year again, the QAU administration earlier this month announced to increase the first semester fee of BS programs to Rs. 80,240.
Moreover, the QAU administration also raised the security fee, which is charged by the university along with the admission fee, from Rs. 5,013 to Rs. 10,626 this year.
Students have argued that they were already struggling to pay the fee, adding that the recent fee hike will only increase the financial strain on their parents.
They called on the QAU administration to immediately announce the withdrawal of the notification fee hike and demanded from ICT administration to quash cases against peacefully protesting students.
On the other hand, a top-level QAU official, on the condition of anonymity, disclosed that the incumbent Federal Government has suspended all the grants of all public sector universities and asked them to become financially sustainable by generating their own funds.
The official argued that given the government’s decision, the university is left with no option but to increase the fee each year in an attempt to meet its expenses.
A Peaceful Protest?
After finding it difficult to continue on-campus academic activities due to the protest, the QAU administration decided to shift to the online mode of teaching once again earlier this week.
However, in a bid to disrupt the online classes, the protesting students made their way into the QAU’s Server Room and vandalized it.
In an official statement, the QAU administration stated that protesting students destroyed the Server Room’s equipment worth more than Rs. 120 million.
As a result of this act of vandalism, internet access in the QAU will remain suspended for the next 5 months as most of the equipment is unavailable in the country and will be imported from abroad.