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Students hold 'overnight stay' near UJ campus to protests rise in tuition fees

By Suzanna Goussous - Nov 11,2014 - Last updated at Nov 11,2014

AMMAN — Around 300 University of Jordan (UJ) students gathered in front of the university’s main gate on Tuesday for an “overnight stay” to continue their protest against the hikes in tuition fees for the parallel and postgraduate programmes.

The National Campaign for Defending Students’ Rights, “Thabahtoona”, organised the sit-in as part of a series of protests in response to UJ’s decision to raise tuition fees. 

Thabahtoona Coordinator Fakher Daas told The Jordan Times the raise targets middle- and low-income segments of society.

UJ officials have said a 27 per cent deficit in the university’s JD140 million budget prompted the board of trustees to decide to increase tuition fees of postgraduate and parallel programmes for new students as of the 2014-2015 academic year. 

Thabahtoona says the increase in fees for the postgraduate programme ranges between 100 and 180 per cent.

 Under the new prices, one credit hour in an MA programme now costs between JD150 and JD230, while one PhD hour costs between JD180 and JD250 depending on the specialty. 

Over 30,000 undergraduate students are enrolled at UJ, while there are around 4,000 postgraduate students. 

More than 52 per cent of the students are enrolled in the parallel programme, according to Thabahtoona.

“UJ has become the most expensive university in Jordan, with the new fees for the parallel programmes,” one of the protesters said. 

“One student was expelled from university and four others from Thabahtoona are facing legal proceedings, just because we are asking for the right of education,” Alaa Hajjih, a student and a Thabahtoona activist told The Jordan Times. 

“The rise in the parallel programme tuition fees ranges from 30 per cent to 100 per cent,” Hajjih said. 

“We organised this protest at the University of Jordan as it was the first public university to apply the decision; the privatisation of public universities must stop,” he added.

 “Students are not responsible for the country’s financial deficit, and the related governmental entities’ set-backs,” Hajjih said.

“Education is for everyone, and if this decision is applied all other universities will raise their fees,” he added.

“Our campaign addresses the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Higher Education and the board of trustees,” Hajjih added.

Earlier this week, UJ Dean of Student Affairs Ahmad Owaidi said that no increase has been imposed on the regular undergraduate programme although the fees paid by students do not cover 50 per cent of the actual costs incurred by UJ.

UJ officials have said the 27 per cent deficit in the university’s JD140 million budget prompted the board of trustees to decide to increase tuition fees of postgraduate and parallel programmes for new students as of the 2014-2015 academic year.

The education of one undergraduate student in the regular programme costs UJ JD2,272 annually, of which the student only pays JD1,128 in fees, while the university covers the remainder, according to previous remarks by UJ officials.

In total, undergraduate education costs amount to JD20.5 million annually.

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