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Students protest UJ’s decision to hike postgraduate programme fees

By Dana Al Emam - Jun 11,2014 - Last updated at Jun 11,2014

AMMAN — Abdullah Hannini has abandoned his plans to pursue graduate studies at the University of Jordan (UJ) this fall due to the university’s decision to increase tuition fees.

Hannini, who currently works at a private translation office, had thought about obtaining a higher degree to secure a promotion at work and improve his income.

“I can’t afford to get a higher degree now that a single credit hour in the master’s programme increased from JD80 to JD200,” he told The Jordan Times on Wednesday at a demonstration in front of UJ’s main gate organised by the National Campaign for Defending Students’ Rights (Thabahtoona).

Held under the slogan “We will not pay the bill for your corruption,” the protest was a reaction to UJ’s recent decision to increase tuition fees of some parallel and postgraduate programmes as of the new academic year and gained the support of students with Islamist and leftist affiliations.

Thabahtoona Coordinator Fakher Daas told The Jordan Times that the campaign opposes the UJ administration’s move to resolve its financial deficit at the expense of students, reporting an increase ranging between 100 and 180 per cent in tuition fees.

“The sole solution for this problem is for the government to provide real funds for universities and for UJ to control its expenses in a way that does not affect allocations for scientific research and the salaries of professors, and to track down cases of corruption,” he said.

Daas claimed that UJ has not increased rents of its investment building, since 1988, adding that the university has lost JD4 million in the stock market.

Firas Qassas, a geology student at Yarmouk University, participated in the protest to express his disapproval of the hike.

“We are not asking for freezing the decision but for annulling it altogether,” he said, adding that the demonstration is only the first reaction, which could develop into a full-fledged movement.

Thaer Farhat, president of UJ’s student union, said the union rejects raising tuition fees for any reason, urging the university’s administration to look for alternatives.

“The university can invest in the productive units on campus such as the Faculty of Agriculture’s farm, in addition to students’ graduation projects,” he told The Jordan Times at a separate protest held at the same location.

Farahat noted that the student union, through discussions with UJ’s administration, had succeeded in excluding the regular undergraduate programme and the medicine and dentistry postgraduate programmes from further increases.

A psychology student at the protest said the decision will prevent many students from seeking higher education.

“Higher education fees were already expensive, but the recent hike has made them unbelievable,” she said. 

UJ President Ekhleif Tarawneh was unavailable for comment on the demands of the protesters, but in previous remarks to The Jordan Times, he described the increase in tuition fees as “the last resort to save the university” and offset a 27 per cent deficit in its JD140-million budget.

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