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UJ students organise ‘27th protest’ against tuition hike

By Suzanna Goussous - Feb 28,2016 - Last updated at Feb 28,2016

University of Jordan students protest against the hike in tuition fees, on Sunday (Photo by Suzanna Goussous)

AMMAN — Almost three years after the University of Jordan’s (UJ) decision to raise tuition fees for its parallel and postgraduate programmes, students on Sunday gathered to protest the cost of postgraduate education.

In the “27th protest” since the decision was announced, organised by the Student Rally for the Cancellation of the Tuition Fee Hike group, around 50 UJ students gathered in front of the administration building to “protest the university’s insistence on the decision”.

Ahmad Mustafa, one of the organisers, said the sit-in was staged on campus to demonstrate the students’ rejection of the fee hike.  

“The participating students are from several parties and backgrounds, so we can deliver the message clearly,” Mustafa said. “It is to emphasise that education is for everyone.”

He added that there was no “clear response” to students’ demands despite many protests since the decision to raise fees was taken.

Hisham Ayasrah, PhD student in sociology, said the tuition fees for postgraduate programmes were raised by 100 to 180 per cent. 

“The decision has restricted enrolment in universities to people who belong to the upper class or have a relatively high income,” he told The Jordan Times. “[Underprivileged] students and those who want to learn are not getting a chance to continue their studies.” 

Ayasrah claimed that 17 majors in postgraduate programmes at UJ had to close over a period of two years, since no students registered as a result of the increase in fees.

The activist recounted that students and the council of deans at the university together made several attempts to cancel the decision, but the university’s board of trustees refused to sign the appeal. 

Officials at UJ’s administration were unavailable to comment on these claims or on the protest.

For Ayasrah, one credit hour of his PhD programme at UJ used to cost around JD80, while after the fee rise it now costs around JD180. 

Mohammad Saaydeh, UJ student union president, said students plan to continue protests overnight until the university administration agrees to reverse the fee hike and find a deal that serves both parties. 

“Raising tuition fees was first announced when the university suffered from a fiscal deficit,” he told The Jordan Times.

 

UJ officials have said in previous remarks that the 27 per cent deficit in the university’s JD140 million budget prompted the board of trustees to decide to increase tuition fees. 

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