Mahasarakham University students demand 50% tuition fee reduction and COVID-19 aid for all

Students at Mahasarakham University are demanding a 50% reduction in tuition fees, saying that the University must help every student without having to prove need, because every student is affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

On 13 May, the MSU Democracy Front Facebook page posted a message demanding that Mahasarakham University reduce tuition fees by 50% without students having to prove their financial need, because every student was affected.

“During the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are economic impacts both inside and outside Thailand, affecting the way of life of all students. The MSU Democracy Front group would like to call on the Mahasarakham University administration to consider reducing the term fees of students by 50% to reduce the cost of living and ease the burden on students’ families as a form of assistance without having to prove poverty or difficulty, because every student is affected. We invite all parents and students to join us in expressing our opinions. #MoveForwardWithTuitionAndHousingCostsReductionWhileIncreasingWelfareForAll (#เดินหน้าลดค่าเทอมลดค่าหอเพิ่มสวัสดิการที่ทั่วถึง) #WeLiveForThePeopleNotForDictatorship (#พึงเป็นอยู่เพื่อมหาชนมิใช่เพื่อเผด็จการ)”

Prior to the demand, Mahasarakham University came up with measures to help students who have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic including a 50% reduction in academic fees for the special 3/2562 semester, a 10% reduction in academic fees for all students for the 1/2563 semester, a 3-payment instalment plan for tuition fees, and 1,500-3,000 baht grants for qualified students .

Pongsathon Tancharoen, a Mahasarakham University student, told Prachatai that he didn’t agree with the University’s measures to help students, especially the grants for students, because the University is giving out only 1,500 grants, which are not enough for all 40,000 students in the University. Also, students must meet qualifications to get the grants approved. Pongsathon saw that as too much of a limit on students’ access to university aid. It was like students had to prove their financial status and difficulties, which was no different from the problematic 5,000 baht state grants.

Pongsathon also said the University should reduce tuition fees by 50% for at least the upcoming semester, because the University has over 40,000 students, and all students have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Also, during the university break, the lower water and electricity use must have reduced the University’s bills. He said that the University should use that money to help every student in the University.

Pongsathon said the core idea of universal welfare will improve and develop the quality of life of students in every university. Universities must include students during the process of designing universal welfare.

“The heart of creating universal welfare is that we don’t see people equally. We shouldn’t see that this person struggles, so we must help. We need to see that everyone has different problems and we must create a variety of measures to help every student, everyone and every group.”

It was also reported that the Mahasarakham University Student Council has created a survey to collect the community’s opinions on the University’s measures and to check students’ needs, including welfare and tuition, and to present the information for the University administration to consider in developing better welfare for students.