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NUJS fee-hike sparks court battle and student protests

An LLB student has mounted a successful legal challenge after an unexpected doubling of tuition fees at NUJS Kolkata, which has provoked widespread complaints from the student body.

First-year students were told several weeks before the start of term that tuition fees at NUJS (National University of Juridicial Sciences) would increase by 100 per cent to around Rs 1.8 lakhs per year for the five year duration of the course.

Namrata Amarnath was due to join NUJS for her first term in early July but after the fee-hike she petitioned the Andhra Pradesh High Court in Hyderabad to allow her to transfer to National Law University, Jodhpur.

Part of her claim was accepted by the High Court on 9 July and Amarnath is understood to have now started her first term at Jodhpur. However, no order has yet been made with respect to a refund of her NUJS tuition fee deposit.

The first respondent in the case was NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad, where the core CLAT-2009 committee sits that can authorise transfers between applicant's preferred law schools and permit changes between the general and non-resident Indian (NRI) student categories. NUJS was not a party to the claim.

Amarnath was represented by advocate Mamata Choudary and NALSAR by advocate B Mayur Reddy.

Another student had filed a court case against NUJS along similar grounds but it is understood that this case has been dropped.

The unexpectedly large increase in tuition fees has attracted criticism from current NUJS students, as second to fifth year students' fees had also increased by almost 50 per cent. The standard fee rose by around Rs 45,000 per year and the cost of places for foreign or non-resident Indian (NRI) students went up by $1,500 (Rs 70,000) per year.

Outgoing NUJS student body president Asish Arun said: "We are opposing the fee hike big time… NUJS's hike has been the highest out of all the National Law Schools and we've put in a petition with the vice chancellor to take a call on the fee-hike."

He added that the matter would foreseeably be discussed with the school's vice chancellor by the end of the month.

NUJS registrar D. Mukhopadhyay told Legally India that the increase in fees was necessary to finance the day-to-day expenditure of the law school, particularly as professors salaries had increased significantly.

He added that NUJS did not have any other sources of income but student's fees.

Legal blog A First Taste of Law, which is written by a current NUJS student, noted that: "NUJS is not facing a problem that no other law school faces. All other law schools are financially independent as well. NLS, Bangalore also increased its fee this year, but the new fee is applicable only to the new batches that will enter. Also, the quantum of hike is far more moderate."

However, the blog added that it was understandable that NUJS' expenditure had increased: "Recently there has been some much needed and awaited improvement of infrastructure in NUJS. There has been tremendous improvement in the quality of faculty as well."

>>How important were tuition fees when you selected your law school? Is there any correlation between price and quality in your experience? Click here to share your views on the Legally India forum.

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