New Delhi: The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Tuesday approved the creation of an ‘Alumni Endowment fund’ similar to IIT-Delhi’s, and set a target of collecting Rs 100 crore by the end of the year.
Vice chancellor M. Jagadesh Kumar appealed for donations and said he wanted JNU to achieve “financial self-sufficiency” through the fund.
“On behalf of JNU, I passionately appeal to all the JNU alumni to come forward and generously make your contributions to the above ‘JNU Alumni Endowment Fund’. Let us keep a target of raising Rs 100 crores by the end of this year. Through your continued support in the coming years, let us target to achieve near financial self-sufficiency for our University,” Kumar said in a letter to the alumni.
“Around the globe, higher educational institutions benefit a great deal from contributions received from their alumni. The time has come for the university to reach out to its alumni across India and around the globe to contribute to ‘JNU Alumni Endowment Fund’,” he said.
Specifics of the endowment fund are not yet clear. However, the V-C gave details of the bank account in which donations are to be deposited in the letter to alumni.
The IIT Delhi model
The fund, which received approval from JNU’s executive council Tuesday, is similar to IIT Delhi’s, the first government-run institute to set up such a revenue model.
The premier engineering institute set up an endowment fund of Rs 250 crore with the help of donations from alumni in October 2019.
An endowment fund is usually an investment trust established by a foundation that makes the withdrawals. Such funds are often used by universities, non-profit organisations, churches and hospitals, and is generally utilised for specific needs or to further the organisation’s operating process.
Western universities such as Cornell, Stanford and Harvard already follow such a revenue model. The money is used for development work and funding student scholarships.
In November 2019, the University Grants Commission (UGC) had asked all institutes to keep in touch with their alumni and seek help for funding, placement and research. The UGC wants to start a similar trend in other higher education institutions and feels it is good for institutions to stay in touch with their alumni who end up holding important positions in government, judiciary, media, politics or those who have established businesses and can help the institutes financially.
Fee hike row
Kumar’s appeal comes a few months after the university was marred by a fee hike row, hitting national headlines. The university had in October 2019 decided to increase the fee for its hostel, citing lack of funds.
While increasing the fee, JNU VC had said that the university does not have enough funds to pay for the service charges like electricity and routine maintenance which is why the fee was being increased. With the latest move to appeal for an alumni fund, the university is looking at further addressing their financial woes.
The fee was increased from Rs. 10 per month for a double occupancy room to Rs. 300 per month and Rs. 20 to Rs. 600 per month for a single occupancy room, with an additional service charge of Rs. 1700 per month. This would have made JNU, the most expensive central university hostel in the country.
The administration’s decision to increase the fee manifold was met with a strong opposition from the students who continued protests for over two months and forced the university to partially roll back the hike.