Due to the closure of colleges over the past year, students have either graduated sitting in front of their laptops or will be completing their graduation soon.

Many are under pressure with no placements from their college as promised, and a mounting fee burden.

Meanwhile the sinking economy has led many companies to fire employees, with almost no fresh hiring.

“My dad used to work as a security guard but lost his job just before the lockdown was announced. My sister who stays in Patna used to teach coaching classes to earn a living, but even that has been taken away because of the lockdowns. We are stuck with no way out,” says Shree Nidhi.

He is a final year student at the Ram Lal Anand college in Delhi University. His family have faced problems clearing his college dues.

“The college cannot give us full relief but should at least provide some concession, keeping in mind the condition of students and their family background.”

Shree says his college published a circular stating that it would increase the fees by a minimum of 10% every year.

“I feel that the college is indirectly saying that it is made only for rich students, and any kid coming from remote areas or with not so good a financial background should think twice before taking admission here.”

Problems with disemployment and underprovision of jobs predate the pandemic. The National Sample Survey showed unemployment touching a 45-year high in 2018. The survey has been discontinued since.

Piyush Arora, an engineering student from the Maharaja Agrasen University in Himachal Pradesh, needs a six-week internship as per his college curriculum.

“Before approaching the college I had started looking for jobs and internships on LinkedIn and Internshala, but there has been no reply from any organisation yet. Some registered outlets are so shady that they want us to pay money in return for an internship certificate.”

“My entire day goes in making calls to companies for work-related queries, which again adds to my anxiety,” he shares.

He says he is ready to work for free to get experience and add to his resume, but even that seems impossible now.

He and his friends have a group where they share information about companies that are hiring, but have had no luck so far.

“Only 110 of 260 students got placed,” says a third-year BBA student at the Symbiosis Centre for Management Studies.

She says it wasn’t easy getting a job. Though she was able to prepare for aptitude tests, join additional courses and upgrade her skills, she sat through 10 recruitment processes and was shortlisted only for two.

“Some of my friends are trying for a masters and sitting for recruitment. This is because of the panic and uncertainty right now in the country.”

Another private university student, Manish has had a puzzling experience with placements.

“We were promised 100% placement, and as much as I understand the condition isn’t good looking at the job prospect, not even a single media outlet coming to hire is very bizarre.”

Manish studies at the Jindal School of Journalism and Communication in Sonepat.

He was surprised that marketing and PR companies were approaching the journalism institute.

“The faculty started saying that we should opt for the jobs that are being offered and not be stubborn in asking for journalism jobs. What on earth will journalism students do with marketing jobs! I don’t understand.”

Manish and his friends have also been writing to the college authorities since last year asking for fee concessions.

“Though the college isn’t taking the hostel fees, they are including other unnecessary charges like wifi and library facilities, which students aren’t actually using but are paying for.”

He says the college management refused to give concessions to families affected by the second wave.

“We didn’t ask for concession for ourselves but for the covid affected families, or students who are earning members, or whose parents passed away due to covid in the second wave.

“We received a notice a few days back stating that our request had been denied, because the college had invested a lot in the infrastructure which cost them a lot, and hence, nothing can be done about the request.”