With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the number of patients continuously rising, the education sector especially has taken a huge hit with the lockdown being imposed in most of the countries for prevention against coronavirus. The lockdown has restricted the students from attending their schools and colleges.
Most Schools and Colleges have opted for online classes to adapt according to the current situation. With such a huge change in the way of studying, one of the first questions that arise is if it is justified on the part of schools and colleges to demand full fees from the students?
Many schools and colleges are demanding full fees from the students. The argument made by them in this aspect is that the colleges still have to pay the salaries to their staff. With online classes being held, they have to spend more money on equipment and other necessities required for the classes. The pandemic has also created a huge economic loss for the education providers and they need to make up for the losses somehow.
Although most students feel like they’re getting the raw end of the deal and that the colleges must compensate for this by at least granting some relief in the fees charged from them.
The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) issued three letters instructing the technical institutions not to insist students on paying fees until the lockdown is lifted.
Nevertheless, the message wasn’t passed or some institutions simply chose to ignore it. Students from more than half a dozen private institutions are forced not only to submit their semester fees but are also fined for being late.
The problems faced by students
The arguments made in favor of lowering the fees can be:
- The shifting of normal classes to online mode brings about a change in the money spent by the institution on running the classes and it creates a situation where the schools and colleges might be profiting of, of this as the cost of running the institution is lowered.
- During the normal situation, institutions usually have to spend a significant amount of money on a varied variety of basic commodities including, electricity, printing, etc. But with the current situation, most of these commodities aren’t being utilized by the colleges which in turn are saving the institutions a lot of money.
- Since most students are in their homes and are not occupying the hostels and neither is making use of the mess, it would only be justified that they are not charged for it.
- A lot of people’s livelihood has been affected because of the pandemic; there are a lot of students who might not be able to afford to pay the fees currently.
- Students who are unable to pay the fees are not allowed to attend the classes which is extremely ruthless.
The whole world is facing a severe economic crash currently, with a huge amount of people being left unemployed due to which a lot of parents might be struggling with paying the fees. In addition to this, students might not be able to afford laptops or computers which have almost become a necessity for online classes along with the expensive internet data plans, especially the kids living in rural areas.
The problems faced by teachers
It’s not just the students who are struggling alone in the current situation. A lot of institutes are not paying their teachers properly. The reasoning given by the authorities behind this is that the teachers have to put ‘less effort’ in the case of online classes. Along with this, most teachers aren’t familiar with the working of online classes and hence are facing many difficulties with the classes as well as the indiscipline caused by the students.
- Unless the government or some legal authorities intervene, most universities will keep on carrying their unfair methods. We need to set a standard for all the techniques employed in the case of online classes.
- The government needs to set some guidelines for the universities and colleges to follow. A few state governments are even considering taking steps in this direction. The Tamil Nadu government is contemplating allowing the colleges to only take seventy percent of the original fees in three installments. Assam government has completely removed the extra fees charged from the government colleges.
- Since the colleges are saving a significant amount of money on electricity bills, printing, lab equipment, money spent on food for the mess, etc; they should utilize this extra money for setting up a welfare fund for teachers and support staff and give them their full salaries.
- Today, the biggest expense of colleges is the salaries given to the staff, hence the colleges must be allowed to only charge fees up to a certain percentage based on the salary. The money generated from the extra percentage should be used to set up a contingency fund for emergencies.
- Colleges should charge extra fees based on pro-rata. Extra charges such as the infrastructure fees should be taken up when colleges start back up again.
- The teachers should be professionally trained for online classes. The colleges should provide the teachers with the required materials for conduction the online classes.
Thus, it wouldn’t be fair of the schools and colleges to demand full fees from the students when the aforementioned points are taken into concern. It would be in favor of both the institutions and the students if the fees were charged up to a certain percentage of the original amount.