Problems have always plagued Tribhuvan University (TU), Nepal’s oldest university. It has problems with its policy, infrastructure, management, course and the list goes long.
Lately, a new problem has come to light – its hostels. Most of the hostels meant for students who come from distant places are in a dire state and deemed unlivable. Those that are habitable are being occupied by those who do not study, leaving the ones in need looking for more expensive options elsewhere.
The burden of the earthquake
There are four blocks each for male and female students. Currently, two of the blocks of the girls’ hostel at Tribhuvan University are being used by Lalit Kala Campus and Kirtipur Eye Hospital respectively, under a temporary contract after the 2015 earthquake. However, no substitute buildings have been allocated for those occupied blocks. As a result, many genuine students who come to Kathmandu to fulfil their dream to pursue higher education are not getting the facility of hostels in the varsity.
Before the 2015 earthquake, there were 55 students in those two hostel blocks, says Sarala Luitel, the hostel warden. The building was handed over to the eye hospital after an agreement between Central Office TU and the Nepal Netra Jyoti Sangh (NNJS), says Dhyanendra Rai, the Tribhuvan University Central Campus principal.
Lalit Kala Campus was relocated to the girls’ hostel after its building in Bhotahiti was damaged by the earthquake. Moreover, once the reconstruction process of Lalit Kala Campus will be completed, it will immediately shift from the hostel blocks, says Rai.
Rai says the same condition applies to the eye hospital too.
Likewise, Tribhuvan University’s two other hostel blocks have been affected by the earthquake, but a new building has been built to replace them. This new building has a capacity to accommodate around 100 students. However, the TU Service Commission has been using it as its building has also been affected by the earthquake.
According to the hostel warden Jhupa Kumari Budathoki, the two blocks had a capacity to accommodate around 90 students. But, currently, there are 70 students in these blocks as some of the rooms cannot be used due to the earthquake.
Bandana Sharma, a student at the girls’ hostel, says, “The hostel blocks should be made available for just students. The affected hostel blocks should be immediately reconstructed and provided for the students.”
“If the new buildings that were supposed to be hostels are handed over, the students would benefit. For a student, staying in a hostel and studying is a different experience. I feel it’s very productive.”
The boys’ hostels also have similar issues.
“The B building has been totally affected by the earthquake while the remaining other buildings are also in a dilapidated condition,” says hostel warden Narayan Timalsena.
Nepali and Indian governments have already inked an agreement to rebuild the B building, informs Rai. The responsibility for rebuilding is now under the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.
Captured by non-students
However, the condition of the building is not the only issue in the Tribhuvan University boys’ hostel. The students inform that their hostels are captured even by the non-students.
“Those who have already graduated stay here. They should have left the hostel immediately after graduation, but they are reluctant and the administration is unable to do anything about them,” says one of the students asking to be anonymous.
“They have strong political support and the university can not do anything about them.”
The cost of living in the hostel is Rs 4,224 per year. Since it’s so cheap, those who graduate are reluctant to leave the hostel.
“Recently, when a hostel warden asked those non-students to leave, they had an argument,” says another student asking to remain anonymous. “Those non-students are not just using the space of the hostel but they are also depriving the genuine students of their rights.”
However, the hostel warden says the problem of non-students staying there has already been solved.
“No non-students stay in the hostels,” says Timalsena. “Some students share such false information just to show disappointment towards the hostel management.”
Similarly, the students also complain about waste management. They say the Tribhuvan University hostels do not have proper facilities for waste management and toilets need maintenance.
According to Timalsena, currently, there are 220 students in three male hostel blocks of Tribhuvan University. Each year, the hostels get an application of 300 students, but due to limited space, the university can only take 75.