Archive for May, 2009
Over the past couple of days, my inbox, homepage and blog has been flooded with the news. The rise of NSU students against fees’ hike is the talk of the town. Innumerable videos being posted, TV channels continuously reporting and students with some morals supporting the causes. A genuine plight is being answered to, and it’s about time you stand up for it as well.
The injustice done by North South University – one of the leading private universities in the country – authorities towards their students is not unknown to most of us. Fees were (nearly) doubled; and when peacefully protested earlier, were reduced to normal ranges for existing students and different for those getting admitted into the upcoming semester. Although promised, during course advising, existing students were charged with raised fees and thus, brew the current activities. My friend eloquently explains why NSU students stood against their authorities, and I don’t want to repeat.
This note was written in support of protests against a breach of contract between NSU authorities and their respective students. However, this note is also in disfavour of the injustices and poor standards maintained at many private universities and institutions across Bangladesh. How their money looting business cuts off talented students, how fees are charged for no apparent reasons, how academic standards are not maintained and how promises are broken.
What NSU students have successfully proven is that injustices are not tolerated and bad things have a price. They have also successfully shown the world that the power of unity against any wrongdoing supersede all forces. What is even more remarkable is how they have collected evidences for their protests and gathered a humongous response to their cause. Many TV channels and local dailies have aired or published misleading information, and these very evidences have overridden everything else.
There is a school of thought that private university students are dull, inactive and filthy rich. That they take everything in the flow and do not have the guts or interest in voicing against social issues. NSU students’ stance has proved that belief wrong, and reestablished the fact that WE can rise against a genuine infringement and remain united and adamant through it.
The small part that each of us can play is spread the news. Support their cause, write about their plight and be informed. This is not only a fight for NSU students’ rights; but also a fight against the pervading injustices in our education system.
I feel obliged to share my experiences with the rest of the world. Mainly because of the meager, and technically incorrect, coverage of certain national daily >_>
It all started in February, 2009, when North South University announced that we are going to go and settle to the long awaited (and I really do mean long awaited, but I am getting there) new campus at Bashundhara. That’s all fine and dandy, we say, but that was before we learned that from the Summer 2009 semester (it was Spring), the per credit fees will be increased to 5,500 taka from 4,000.
A 1,500/= increase PER CREDIT? Are you kidding me? I mean, we waited 7 years for the Bashundhara campus to be finished, SEVEN YEARS! Do you know how long that is? Yeah, well, you do, but get this: during these seven years ALL students had to pay a 3,500/= campus development fee. And most students don’t even stay that long in a university. So basically they (as compared to me and us) had to pay 3,500/= extra. Every semester. That means NSU received, every 4 months, 3,500 * 3 semester * 4 different years * approximately 1,000 student per semester = 42,000,00/= (4.2 crore). After 7 years that becomes 42,000,000 * 7 years * 3 semester = 588,000,000/= (58.8 crore or 8.4 million USD) 8.4 million USD in one of the poorest countries in the world is a very big deal. All of which, presumably, went to develop a 12.5 million square feet campus at Bashundhara.
Right. Still okay. A bit. I mean, wasn’t NSU supposed to pay for the construction from there campus? Because wikipedia describes the Banani campus as temporary. But fine, so when we shift to the new campus there should be no more Campus Development Fee (CDF), right? The total charge should decrease. Yay us!
No, a notice in front of the SPZ building in NSU sees things differently. That was 9th February. Instantly a student stood up to protest against the hike. A few followed. Soon, thousands followed. That was the first protest against the admins of NSU in the history of NSU. If it was DU, there would have been breaking of cars and glasses, burning of a “voodoo doll” representing the Vice Chancellor, and stuff we see in news whenever something happens in DU or any other public university in the country. But this wasn’t DU. It was NSU and it was peaceful, or as peaceful as it can be when a few thousand students rise up in a common purpose. Regardless, the admins were scared to see such a unity, the first they have ever seen, and immideatly published another notice that was the price hike was not applicable for current students.
It was agreeable. When we enter a university, or any place at all, we enter a commitment. I think an analogy would serve better. Suppose, to take a CNG Taxi we make a deal with the Taxi driver. Suppose to go from Motijheel to Banini he would charge 80 taka. But there were some traffic jam and yada yada so when we finally reached our destination he said 80 taka won’t do I have to pay a hundred. You can clearly see what’s wrong with the picture. The deal we had before I took the taxi is not being acknowledged. Whether there were a traffic jam or not was not a part of the deal and hence should not be put under consideration.
So anyway, we won. We rock. Woohoo! When a new student enters the Summer semester he would know about the new tuition fee and as such would be ready to make that kind of commitment. An old student was not, and he should not be held liable for the extra 1,500 taka per credit. (On an average, we take 12 credits per semester, that actually makes the rise in price 18,000/=)
On May 7th, 3 days before the start of advising (or enrolling for new subjects before the semester) another notice went up in NSU website in the dead of the night and this is what it said (in summery, because as you can see, the link was taken down):
A rise of 500/= tuition fee per credit.
A rise of 1,000/= in student activity fee.
A rise of 1,500/= in computer lab fee.
A decrease of 5,00/= in library fee.
No CDF (Campus Development Fee) and No Caution Money of 5,000.
Wow we paid caution money? I didn’t even know that! Immediately, thanks to Facebook, we knew about the new notice. Groups were created, events were proposed and the next thing you know, there were 1,500/= registered participants in a protest in NSU and 500 group members in the protest group.
The notice was taken down by 8th, and replaced with a more humble one.
Regardless, because of the afformentioned reasons, we would not give in. Even assuming there was a rise of 300% of maintenance fee, that was not proportionate to the number of course we were taking. It’s simply illogical to increase credit fees with the increase in maintanence fees! Why don’t you convert the 3,500/= CDF into 3,500/= Maintenance fee? 4.2 Crore taka every three months is a lot. One can live happily ever after with that.
Cost of services rose 100% during the last few years, did it? Well, guess what? You don’t have to pay hundreds of thousands of taka every year renting the SPZ, STR, GMQ, BTR and the administrative building anymore. It’s not like you need a pay back for the huge investment you made. After all, it was not your investment. Past students paid 58.8 crore taka for that. I assume the campus can be put under the account “paid in full”. By my calulations, you are saving more money, not spending more.
The 7% mentioned is nothing but a, what we call, “eye-wash”. The CDF is still there, but in disguise. And on an average students take 4 courses per semister, not 3, so the percentage increase is much more then 7.23.
Oh, and did I mention putting a different notice after saying that no extra charge will be applicable in February proved the NSU Admins are, to be blunt, liars?
Do raise the price for the lack of raising tution fee in the last 7 years. But why with us? Do it to the new kids. Give them the burden! They know what they are getting into. Well, so did we when we were admitted in the most expensive university in one of the poorest countries in the world, but not for this! Not to be extorted!
Today is the 10th. It’s 9PM as I write this post. A thousand students started the day with yet another peaceful protest. But this time, we were organized. There were banners, placards, and leadership. The admins were prepared as well. What did they began the day with? Riot police and a Proctor that… well… nevermind.
I am not going to go to the details on what happened today. In short, we blocked the road (but only after the Proctor delayed our meeting with the VC by more then an hour, and that eventually led to blocking of half of Gulshan and Banani area) and organized a rally. I stayed for a long while but not until the end. What happened in the end? Well, the VC was locked up in his office until he would see the “light”. He didn’t. He fed us to the riot police. And tear gas. About 20 students were injured, including girls. Yes, my friends, that’s what we get for being civilized and not turning to our boxing gloves! We dispersed for the day. But not without hard feelings. This isn’t the end.
We may pay the increased fees, but only because we don’t have a choice. You may think you won, but do you realize what you just created? A flame in the heart of every NSU student who ever looked up to you as an example. Clearly, a teenager like me can see the long term implications of todays event then our honourable administrators. We may fear you, or atleast I fear you, for writing this post and letting the world know about the injustice, but do I, or anyone else in NSU, respect you, respect you anymore? That I’ll leave you to ponder.
P.S. Regardless of what you hear, no NSU student moved against the police or broke any glasses or burned any papers. This was caused by the police, as NTV reported correctly. The picketing outside was not caused by any students also. During the commossion, a few outsiders entered the NSU premises and well, and what can we expect from them who enter willingly into a place where they know trouble is brewing?
P.P.S Please leave a comment and/or forward this link to your friends. The more that knows about the truth, the better. There is nothing that we, or I, can do more.