University asked to withdraw fee hike

Lahore:July 19: The Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) alumni association has started an online petition asking the university administration to withdraw a 10 percent hike in tuition fees.

The petition started by the LUMS Students and Alumni Action Committee (LSAAC) demands that the university keep its tuition fees at the 2015-16 level.

Muhammad Zain Qasmi, a LUMS alumnus, started the petition in the name of the LSAAC at the online forum: change.org. It has so far attracted 800 signatories. Change.org sends a letter on behalf of the petitioners to the parties addressed in petitions if they get at least 1,000 signatures.

The online petition states: “The cost of attendance has been raised by almost 10 percent all of a sudden. There exists no policy to challenge this hike as LUMS maintains tuition and fees are subject to change without notice.”

The petition said that tuition fee per semester had been increased from Rs252,000 (fee in 2015-2016) to Rs272,400 for fall 2016-17. It demanded that for enrolled students tuition fee should be frozen at the level it was in the year of enrolment. It said the university should increase tuition fees only for new students but keep constant the amount charged in the first year throughout the course of their degree programme.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Qasmi said the point of the petition was to persuade the LUMS administration to avoid increasing tuition fee for students once they had been enrolled in a degree programme. “Increasing tuition fees in the middle of the degree programme puts an unforeseeable burden on students and their parents,” he said. He said families from the middle class were no longer able to afford a LUMS education.

In the petition, Qasmi said that self-paying students comprised a large percentage of LUMS student body. Parents exhaust all their resources and life’s savings to send their children to the LUMS, it added.

The petition said: “Even though the LUMS hails itself as a non-profit organisation, it earns millions of rupees in endowments and donations. These are used to fund university’s expansionist plans rather than keeping down the cost of attendance.”

LUMS Vice Chancellor Sohail Naqvi said students granted admission to a degree programme who were unable to afford the tuition fee could avail financial aid offered by the university. He dismissed as baseless the statement that the LUMS was only affordable for students from very wealthy backgrounds.

He said the LUMS was not receiving any financial assistance from the government. “It is a not-for-profit institution. The tuition revenue only partially pays for the operational expenses. All new projects such as the Law School and student hostels are paid for from private donations,” he said.

He said the university had announced an eight percent hike in tuition fee and not the 10 percent figure quoted in the petition.

“We are committed to providing the highest quality education at the most affordable price,” he said.Published in The Express Tribune, July 19th, 2016.