BENGALURU: Hit by the lockdown, the families of many students at the University of Agriculture Sciences Bagalkot are borrowing money at exorbitant interest rates just to put their children through college. Rakshit (name changed), a second year degree student at the University of Horticultural Sciences Bagalkot, hails from Kadur in Chikkamgalur district. “I chose agricultural sciences because its the most affordable if college education courses, and is mostly taught in government colleges,” Rakshit Rao said. He plana to write competitive examinations after graduating.
However, twice this year, he found his college degree slipping out of his grasp. But hit by the pandemic, Rakshit’s father, an agricultural worker, has borrowed Rs 20,000 from the local money lender at the rate of 5% interest per month, payable until the principal is repaid.
While students were hoping for a silver lining from the lockdown in the form of reduced semester fee as the money collected for tour, convocation, sports, and career development for the previous year was unspent, the university hiked the fee by over Rs 2,700 per semester despite the Education Department’s directions against increasing the fee due to the pandemic. He now has to pay Rs 19,305 by October 5.
Another student Anand Kumar (name changed), said his parents were also considering such loans. “We requested the Dean and the Vice Chancellor to reduce the fees, but there was no favourable response,” he told TNIE.
His parents, who are agricultural labourers, took a huge financial hit during the lockdown when there was no work. Vice-Chancellor Indiresh K M told TNIE that the decision to increase the fees was taken unanimously by the state level coordination committee for six universities. Each year, there is at least a 5% increase, he said, which is why this year too it was increased in a similar manner. “How are we to run the university? The government gives money to the institute only for research and education depends on student fees,” Indiresh said.