Graduation gowns and mortar boards come at a price

Bangalore City

High convocation fee with an extended application procedure creates confusion and delay.

Students stood in a straight queue holding documents in sweaty hands, waiting for their turn to pay the fee at the bank so that they could show the receipt and collect their certificates. The price they were paying to throw their mortar boards in the air was a steep Rs. 2880.   

Bangalore University’s (BU) convocation fees burn a hole in the pocket of students. Without any ceremony in place, autonomous colleges charge students as high as Rs. 2880  just for the application form.

The University sent a notification in the beginning of Feb. 2022 setting out Feb. 15, 2022 as a deadline for receiving convocation applications but the colleges didn’t inform the students until a few days before the deadline.

Sanskriti Singh, a graduate from St Joseph’s College Autonomous 2021 batch said that she was not convinced with the fees demanded by the college. She said that she heard about the form from her official class group, about four days before the deadline. “The charges are unreasonable and the notifications came too late for me to travel to the city to do the formalities, ” she said.

Singh added that there was no need for this extra amount because anyway the college is not mailing the certificates to the students’ homes. With no postal facilities and the absence of any ceremony, the fee is unnecessary.   

BU in 2015 decided to collect the convocation fee from the final semester students to make it easy for them while applying for the degree certificates. M. Kotresh,  registrar of BU  said, “The varsity has decided on this measure because colleges used to harass students for providing degree certificates on time. By filling a form under a deadline will keep the colleges alert and students informed.”

Dr C. Mohana Das, Controller of Examination (COE) of St Joseph’s College Autonomous said, “We are just here following the rules as laid down by the university. The college has not charged any additional fee other than the amount decided by the university. We have just taken Rs 500 from the students as alumni registration fee.” He adds that maybe the university is charging the money for handling and shipping of degrees to the respective colleges.

Students from autonomous colleges like St Joseph’s, Kristu Jayanthi, and Jain narrated the same story. Nandita Jain, a student said, “Anyway the amount is too much and on top of it if we do not submit the application and fees on time then the money will not be refunded back because the desk will be closed in the evening. This means that we have to come next year to do the entire process again.”

College authorities told the students that if they were unable to apply on time, they would have to wait till the next year. When the convocation dates are announced in 2023, graduates would have to repeat the process, and pay for it again. The money paid now for the original degree certificate will not be returned to them.

This short time span given to them has left many students who are working and studying in different parts of the country at a loss. Dhruv, a member of the Bangalore Student Community (BSC) says that graduates were unable to fill out the application form, and their degrees got delayed to another year.

Dhruv said, “The convocation application procedure is lengthy and confusing. This is not just uneconomical for few students, but also tiring.” What worsens the delay is that students are to get No-Objection Certificates (NOC) from various departments in order to get their marks sheet. “All this takes time; colleges are not very quick with these processes,” he said. Only after taking the consolidated marks sheet, students are allowed to apply for the certificate.

While most students faced difficulty with the financial aspect of the application, a few have been neutral about it. Chirantan Ghosh, a student of the Indian Institue of Psychology and Research (IIPR) BU said that this is rather unfortunate for many students. “For me, this is a case of privilege, I feel sad for the affected students because I and my batch mates did not face such problems,” he adds.

University Grant Commission (UGC) stated in their notification that universities shall hold a convocation ceremony to confer degrees and other awards to eligible students but it does not mention anything about the fees. Dr. M Gopi Chand, Deputy Secretary of UGC said, “It is up to the university’s discretion and they have to decide the fee. Although, the colleges need to understand that convocation fee differs from the original degree certificate fee.”

Shashi Kumar, an educationist said that this shows how the government education department determines and asks money for all its needs. He adds, “BU has become money minded, an exorbitant increase of convocation fees at such situations of Covid is not expected, but still they are going with it.”