Report: Haris Malik
A sudden fee hike has caused outrage within students in Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) . As per the sources, administration of the aforementioned university has increased the tuition fee from Rs. 23,790 to Rs. 26,910 per credit hour for a single semester. This 14% increase would result in an additional Rs 51,000/- for the same 16 credit hours.
The fee increase comes as a drastic shock for students and their families since the administration had neither disclosed nor insinuated this to the student body prior to its implementation. Daniyal Nasurallah is in his third semester pursuing a degree in Computer Sciences and was shocked at the administration’s decision. “Fee hikes should not apply to those in the middle of their degrees,” he said.
It is not only the tuition fees that have seen a spike. Student accommodation fee has been increased by a drastic 18% from Rs. 52,000 to Rs. 62,000 per semester.
Regarding students concerns, the administration has shown little diligence in their response. LUMS is regarded as one of the top universities in Pakistan and while some have been privileged enough to afford its luxuries, the nation-wide inflation has spurred tensions across all classes. Minahil*, who prefers to remain anonymous, sees her future “uncertain” due to the current fee hike.
“I am constantly thinking about how to earn money and collect funds for the fall semester because I do not have the stomach to inform my parents about this hike,” she said.
Despite all this, the salaries of student jobs, such as Teaching Assistants (TAs) and Peer Advising Leaders (PALs), remain stagnant. TAs receive a mere maximum of Rs. 42,000 and PLAs are compensated with Rs. 10,000 per semester. This comes at a time when the country is facing a 13.8% inflation climb making it difficult for any common man to survive, let alone a student with a salary of Rs. 10,000. The admin has consistently approved extremely unfair policies which disadvantage the students in every manner.
In these tough times, students like Minahil worry about managing their finances. “If I cannot find any way to pay my fee, my parents will have to sell some valuables or take yet another loan,” said a worried Minahil .
It is not only the tuition fees that have seen a spike. Student accommodation fee has been increased by a drastic 18% from Rs. 52,000 to Rs. 62,000 per semester. However, living conditions remain the same marred with complaints of faulty elevators, rat infestations to reports of a campus-wide food poisoning incident caused by water filters.
“There was a lack of space, closet room, and even breathing room- to be honest. It [hostel kitchen] always reeked of a weird smell, and the fridge was in a terrible state (one for about 40-50 residents),” Minahil told The Students Herald.
LUMS admin has a policy to adjust fee according to inflation, but their fees are already inflated. A fee hike of more than 5-9% is not justifiable, even by the institution’s own policy. A hike of almost 15% in academics and 18% in accommodations has been protested by students studying at LUMS and Progressive Students Collective.
Additionally, the recent audits show that 7.39 crore has been spent on “foreign travel & recruitment” – firstly, it is odd for both these categories to be grouped together and secondly, these expenses are funded by students’ fee hence they require 100% transparency. (Audit Report)
Students had tried approaching the administration through proper channels i.e., the student council, and through the administration. However, the VC and admin has not replied to any of the students. Students now protest for their voices to be heard.
“We demand that this fee hike is reversed for all existing batches, and we demand financial transparency from the administration in terms of budget spent on salaries of VC, Provost, Deans as well as renovations and other expenses,” Daniyal said.
He echoed the voice of other students and said, “The student body is united against this hike.”
*Name changed on account of privacy.