30 Dec 2022 4:32 AM GMT
The National Law University, Delhi (NLUD) has increased its total fee for the academic session 2023-24 from Rs. 1,63,500 to Rs. 3,20,000, almost doubling the amount. The tuition fee has been increased to Rs. 1,35,000 from Rs. 85,000. The new fee structure includes other heads such as academic services and facilities, student welfare fund, utility services, refundable estate deposits, hostel...
The National Law University, Delhi (NLUD) has increased its total fee for the academic session 2023-24 from Rs. 1,63,500 to Rs. 3,20,000, almost doubling the amount.
The tuition fee has been increased to Rs. 1,35,000 from Rs. 85,000. The new fee structure includes other heads such as academic services and facilities, student welfare fund, utility services, refundable estate deposits, hostel and mess charges.
The varsity has faced criticism for the increase in fee structure from law students as well as those in the legal profession.
However, NLUD's Vice Chancellor in-charge Prof. (Dr) Harpreet Kaur justified the fee hike in light of “increased costs and expenses over the last decade.”
“The fee structure of National Law University Delhi remained unchanged since the Academic Year 2013-14. An additional hostel facilities fee of Rs. 20,000 per annum was added from 2018 onwards to cover the operational costs of the newly installed centralised air-conditioning in the halls of residence. The university has been charging a very low fee in comparison to top NLUs. The new tuition fee for new Batch 2023 has increased from Rs. 85,000 p.a to Rs. 1,35,000 p.a. The overall fees payable to the University has been changed to Rs. 3,20,000 from Rs. 1,86,000. The fee of Rs. 3, 20,000/- also includes a sum of Rs.25000.00 security deposit and Rs.10000/- one-time fee. In our opinion, this increase is justified in the light of increased costs and expenses over the last decade,” Prof. Kaur told LiveLaw.
She added that before announcing the revised fee, approval was taken from the University bodies and the same was notified at the time of inviting applications for AILET, 2023 examination.
“NLU Delhi remains committed to support students from weaker sections of the society through various scholarships schemes in which the university is listed as a top-class institution,” Prof. Kaur added.
Advocate Nipun Saxena, an alumnus of the varsity, told LiveLaw that the fee hike has to be seen in the context in which the University has been operating for the last few years.
“NLUD was promised a grant of Rs. 200 Crores by the Delhi Government for the purposes of augmenting its infrastructural requirements and its day to day upkeep and maintenance. Despite several Governing Council resolutions to the said effect, nothing was done by the Delhi Government,” Saxena said.
He added: “Students and Alumni also preferred Writ Petition before the Delhi High Court challenging the introduction of 85% domiciliary reservation which was made a condition precedent by the Delhi Government before release of funds. The Delhi High Court had granted an interim stay in the matter but the funding never came. Under these circumstances, NLUD found itself in acute financial constraints brought about by the inaction of the Delhi Government. In order to keep itself running I feel the fee hike has been introduced.”
Advocate Abhik Chimni, while speaking to LiveLaw, said public universities serve as an important source of social and economic mobility.
"Students from economically and socially backward groups need the State to provide affordable legal education. The option of private institutions doesn’t exist for these students. Affordable education must be a priority for the government. The State needs to invest in education, use the tax collections for investing in public education," he added.
Speaking to LiveLaw, Shivangi Sharma, a second year law student from Institute of Law, Nirma University said that the fee hike by NLU-D “has only made sure that legal education remains even more inaccessible to people.”
“The fee has been doubled, making it harder even for the middle class to take admission into a premier institution like NLU Delhi – for the poor, it will remain a distant dream even if they've worked hard to get their seat. It impacts legal education in a severe way because now, only the privileged class will be able to afford this education, and there won't be a diverse student body that studies law since most lower class & middle class people will be weeded out, because of their inability to pay for legal education. They already couldn't afford to pay for private institutes, now they won't be able to pay for government institutions either,” she added.
A student of NLUD said that the revised fee structure will only hamper deserving kids' chances of pursuing legal education.
“It's totally unjustified on the part of the administration to hike the fees to such an extent. The justification given for the same is that the fee structure had been the same for a really long time, but it fails to account for the fact that our fee structure (along with the facilities provided under the same) was already at par with other major NLUs,” the law student told LiveLaw.
Another first year law student of NLU-D said that the fee hike will act as a barrier to both inclusion and diversity, contradicting both the university's and its students' commitments.
“Many current students would not have attended the University if the fee increase had occurred earlier. There is also a growing concern about whether the fee increase will be extended to the current batches. Access to legal education is already inequitable ... The fee increase would make law an even more inaccessible and exclusive profession,” the student said.
NLU-D’s students’ body has also written a representation to the authorities requesting them to roll back the revised fee policy stating that it is a serious impediment to the right to education.
“It is unbecoming of a public institution to exclude such large cross-sections of society. We do not want to feel ashamed of saying that we belong to NLU Delhi if someone asks us, either as students or as alumni. We are afraid that this hike in fee is a statement of the fact that we do not care about being an inclusive institution anymore, which we know for a fact is not true. We hope that the current administration does justice to the history and legacy of NLU Delhi and takes a decision in favour of inclusivity and justice,” the representation reads.