The students of Karakoram International University in the Gilgit-Baltistan region are staging a protest against fee hikes and administrative mismanagement.
Students can be seen chanting slogans in support of their demands while boycotting classes.
According to the students, the university administration has been increasing the semester fees against the Higher Education Commission’s (HEC) policy.
Students claim that since 2020, the semester fee has increased by 135 per cent, despite HEC policy only allowing for a 10 per cent increase in a single year.
The university administration has allegedly increased the fees by 25 per cent two times in a semester in several courses.
Most of the students in the university who come from economically weaker sections are out on the streets demanding the roll-back of the decision.
Accusing the university administration of mismanaging the resources, students are also complaining they are not being provided any facilities.
“Earlier, our fee was Rs 30,000; now, after a 25 per cent hike, it is Rs 37,000. According to the HEC rule, 10 per cent is increased annually, but it has increased by 25 per cent. We cannot afford expensive education,” a Business Management student told Skardu TV.
“I had deposited Rs 60000 during admission, but now they are saying that our fee has been increased again. They have increased our fee twice in the same semester”, a third-semester engineering student said.
Shortages of faculty, transportation and classrooms are the issues that the students have been facing for several years.
The students allege that the government had promised to provide a Rs 300 million grant for the university to decrease the semester fees, however, the promise has not been fulfilled yet.
Moreover, several students have been suspended and expelled after registration of an FIR against them.
Their only mistake was that they raised issues with the university. The most surprising aspect is that several students claim that they are being awarded degrees that are not related to the course in which they are enrolled.
Several other universities in PoK are witnessing protests by academic and administrative staff who are demanding their pending salary hike. The teaching process has been suspended due to the lack of proper funding for universities.
The academic staff has appealed to the government on several occasions, but their demands have not been fulfilled.
They have stated unequivocally that they will keep demonstrating until they receive the pay increases they are entitled to.
The educational institutes in PoK and Gilgit Baltistan have been turned into places of persecution by the Pakistani government.
Promoting education in the community could aid in the locals’ understanding of their legal rights and Pakistan sees it as a threat to its illegitimate annexation of the region.