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UJ president says tuition fee hike justified as student protest enters 12th day

By Suzanna Goussous - Mar 10,2016 - Last updated at Mar 10,2016

AMMAN — As a protest by University of Jordan (UJ) students against tuition fee hikes entered its 12th day on Thursday, UJ President Ekhleif Tarawneh held a press conference to justify the increase. 

Around 41,382 students are currently enrolled at UJ, of whom 10,441 are in the parallel programme, Tarawneh said. 

“Of these parallel programme students, 3,051 are exempted from paying tuition fees,” he added, “which means that the number of students paying tuition fees at their own expense is 7,390, constituting 17 per cent of the whole population at UJ.” 

The decision to raise tuition fees, approved three years ago, applies to the parallel, international and post-graduate programmes, with the price of some credit hours rising by more than 100 per cent.

Tarawneh added that 4,880 students are enrolled in post-graduate programmes at the university, constituting 11.8 per cent of the whole student body.

“This means the remaining students make up the bigger portion, at 71.2 per cent,” he said, explaining that the hikes affect a limited number of students.

He said that despite the fact that covering the expenses of the larger portion of students costs the university JD20.5 million annually, UJ administration has not and is not planning to raise tuition fees for the regular programme.

“This invalidates the fabrications that claim the university became a place for the rich, especially that most of the students accepted into UJ within this percentage are from the underprivileged and those with limited income,” Tarawneh told reporters.

“When the parallel programme started being implemented, it was to make up for the financial deficit caused by the regular programme,” he said. 

“As for post-graduate students, the total cost of their education [per student], as I said earlier amounts to JD1,566 per year, while the university pays JD706, with an estimated net deficit of JD1.9 million.”

The president stressed that the decision was taken by the board of trustees to narrow the university’s deficit, 

In the presence of six members from the student union on Monday, board members and the president agreed on ending the protest and came to terms; however, as soon as the students told the protesters about the conditions, they agreed to continue the protest since the suggestions did not “meet their demands”.

Tarawneh urged the public not to believe all reports circulated by websites about the protest, adding that since student union elections are coming soon, certain parties are using such protests to promote their ideologies.

At a press conference held later in the day by the Student Rally for the Cancellation of Tuition Fee Hikes, Hisham Ayasrah, a PhD student, said the university’s response to the protest “does not meet the demands of students”.

“Our demands are clear and legitimate, and we want them to reverse the decision,” he told The Jordan Times.

“To those who try to distort our reputations by saying we are supported by parties from outside, we say that we are 5,000 students from different backgrounds and parties. Political parties complement this country and we cannot deny their existence,” Ayasrah added.

He added that students want a quick response to their demands.

 

“Our demands are only our rights as students; we are using peaceful speech to deliver our message.”

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