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LUMS Students Hold Protest Against Admin For Keeping Campus Closed While Charging Full Fees


Students at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, in response to the senior administration’s refusal to consider a phased opening of campus and failure to offer a compelling explanation for charging the standard amount of fees for a remote semester, organised a protest outside the Lahore Press Club on Saturday following a Townhall the previous day which many deemed unproductive.

The students demand a staggered opening of campus facilities, with on-campus accommodation being reserved for those from underdeveloped areas without access to reliable internet connectivity and others in abusive household settings who rely on a secure environment to be able to focus on their academic studies. In the case of campus remaining closed, LUMS must offer a subsidised fee structure which takes into account not only the impact of the financial recession on its mostly middle-class students, but also the compromised nature of the remote learning process.

Many of the senior administrators are currently out of the country and are claimed to be out of touch with the struggles of their student body, taking weeks to respond to concerns and offering insufficient explanations for policy measures.

Students are being made to pay around Rs. 500 000 as tuition for one semester, including redundant charges such as ‘semester registration fee’ and a special fees for Science and Engineering students- at a time when families are struggling to meet financial needs amid an economic recession and LUMS itself has rolled back on Financial Aid grants. Many are considering transfers to other universities.

After much prodding, LUMS has eventually conceded that it will allow 200 students initially on campus, with additional batches of 50 every three weeks. Considering that the total LUMS student body adds up to around 5200, this process could take approximately seven semesters. Meanwhile, the LUMS administration refuses to invest in capacity building measures such as the installation of air filters or administrative implementation of SOPs to streamline or facilitate the process of opening.

The past year has seen LUMS introduce a controversial triple occupancy policy in a single bedroom in some hostel buildings despite charging full hostel fees; have multiple fires break out on campus, including two in hostel buildings; and a heavily contested fee hike amidst the pandemic. Additionally, students have complained about the declining standard of various academic departments and the limited scope of the courses offered.

In a statement, LUMS admin responded that it was committed to the safety of its community as well as fulfilling its role as an academic institution.

“A rapid decline of COVID cases in Pakistan is a positive development. However, reopening campus at this time, also imposes risks that extend beyond just the students, and can have far-reaching consequences,” it added.

“A detailed plan of a phased opening is being developed by the University’s Health and Safety Committee, and will be shared with the community by September 15,” it added.

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