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    16-Jun-2020

UJ students union lists demands to university in press conference

 

The Jordan Times

 

AMMAN — After the University of Jordan (UJ) Student Union launched the hashtag #not_paying_for_the_summer_semester three weeks ago, which became the top-trending hashtag on Twitter on Saturday evening, the union held a press conference to list the demands of the student body.
 
During the conference, held via the Zoom platform on Sunday evening, President of the union Mohanad Khleifat and three other members listed the union’s demands, which remain unmet by the UJ administration. 
 
In a statement following the conference, the union said that, while the university’s academic management of the crisis was “minimally acceptable”, “we still stand against the monetary approach adopted by the administration”. 
 
The union’s demands include cancelling tuition fees for the summer semester and reconsidering the hour credit fees, as well as allowing students to pay fees in instalments if needed.
 
The union is also urging the university to keep the housing fees for female students who already paid for the spring semester as credit in their university accounts and cancel the fees for students who have not yet paid, in addition to cancelling housing fees for international students for April, May and June, according to the statement. 
 
“The university’s administration still requires female students residing in dorms to pay the fees for the period during which they were not staying at the dorms, calling on them to pay the full fees for the complete spring semester, although they only stayed at the dorms for one-and-a-half months out of four,” the union said in the statement.
 
It added that the administration also required international female students, who pay their dorm rent on a monthly basis, to pay for April, May and June, although they also were not at the dorms during that period. 
 
According to the union, the university has not transferred the spring semester service fees to the next semester, even though students were not able to benefit from UJ’s services — including printing, laboratories and libraries — during the three-month lockdown period. 
 
“While the university decided that the summer semester will be based online for theoretical subjects — which represent the majority of subjects offered at the university — the administration still did not cancel registration and service fees,” the statement said.
 
“The university also did not allow students to pay tuition fees in instalments, disregarding the exceptional financial conditions that have impacted most segments of society. In spite of the university’s low operational costs because of students’ absence, it still acted as a for-profit organisation, not a public university,” the statement added.
 
“The university has not responded to our demands and has gone ahead to fulfil its financial goals, forming a committee to reconsider tuition fees, which means they aim at increasing them, as they implied various times in recent statements that the current fees cannot cover the university’s expenses,” the union members said.  
 
The union claimed that UJ is trying to “use the attendance suspension” to its advantage, as students cannot protest in person due to the pandemic, with the ultimate goal of increasing tuition fees. 
 
The union warned that it “will stand against” any attempt to increase tuition fees, as well as attempts to “make education at UJ limited to the rich and deprive the poor from finishing their studies”.
 
“We urge Parliament, professional associations and civil society institutions to stand with students in the campaign to boycott paying for the summer semester,” it said.
 
The union members stressed that the campaign will continue until demands are met, noting that students “will practise peaceful means of protest adopted in the Constitution, including protesting in-person according to current health regulations”.
 
On Sunday, UJ posted a statement in which it said that it had taken more than 46 measures to control its spending, “none of which are related to tuition fees”, noting that any news on a committee having been formed to increase tuition is “untrue”. 
 
However, the university said that a committee was formed on June 1 to “study the prices” of current programmes to make them competitive with other universities, “which could include reducing the prices of these programmes, but only through a thorough scientific study”.
 
 

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