The situation of protests at Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) has escalated. Students have lashed out against the injustices they face at the hands of the establishment with regard to fees. The university has increased its fees more than 15 per cent (in some cases 35 per cent), violating Higher Education Commission rules, which specify an annual increase of no more than 10 per cent. Apart from the fee hike the dismal conditions of the facilities available to the students, including hostel accommodation, have forced the students to boycott classes.

At the center of this dissent stands Vice Chancellor (VC) of QAU, Dr. Javed Ashraf who fuelled the anger by stating that the poor who cannot afford the fee should not enroll themselves in the university, and the fee hike will not be reversed. It is worth reminding to the VC that QAU is a public university, a place of learning and equal opportunity, one that aims to provide quality education to each student on merit, no matter what their families’ income status may be. Such remarks are highly irresponsible to begin with considering the 1,000 students that are protesting are doing so because this decision could prove detrimental to the completion of their education and affect the course of their lives.

This is not the first time the VC has faced backlash for his decisions. In May this year, his move to lease out 17 acres of the university’s land to another higher education institute, as a measure to generate money and meet funds shortages the university is facing, was opposed by the faculty and employees. He also allegedly had a fallout with the Social Sciences Dean Dr Aliya Khan, demanding her resignation because she opposed a few decisions made by him. Such autocratic behaviour has no place in a place of enlightenment and learning no matter how tough a job of running a large institution is.