QAU campus activities continue to hang in the balance

Students at QAU Islamabad have been protesting hefty rise in fees since over a week

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Awami National Party (ANP) Senator Nawabzada Arbab Umar Farooq has asked Senate chairman to halt the use of force against Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU) students, who have been protesting fee hikes since well over a week.

In a tweet on Thursday, Farooq stated that he fully supported the students in their protest and that he had communicated with the Senate chairman regarding the ongoing protests. He added that he had asked the chairman to stop the police from using force against protestors.

The peaceful protests turned violent on Tuesday after student protesters allegedly stormed the university’s server room and destroyed equipment worth Rs120 million. Simultaneously, reports on social media claimed that students were being attacked by teachers and other staff members during their ongoing protest.

On Wednesday, over 200 members of the QAU faculty held an online townhall and lamented over the fact that a valid student protest was hijacked by violence perpetrators. The faculty expressed concern that hefty damage was done to vital facilities as well as hostels. They appealed to media, government, and other stakeholders to help reinstate necessary technical facilities like Wi-Fi, without which the university could not operate normally.

A day later, the QAU administration said that an agreement was reached with the students to meet their demands, but several displeased elements still blocked the university’s entrance.

The university had earlier moved to online classes when the protests began and had resumed operations based on the negotiations that were brokered between students and the administration by the Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Hamza Shafqaat.

The students had marched out of classes a week ago to demonstrate against rising fees at the university. Under the hike, the fee for first semester of the Bachelor of Science program was increased from Rs59,741 in 2019 to Rs76,030 in 2020. The cost for the first semester was further increased to Rs80,240 this year. Students also claimed that security fee was more than double of what it was in previous years.