The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Data counter to Joshi fee-cut plan

HRD ministry: IIMs are building reserves by charging exorbitant fees
Position paper: Deficit per student is in the range of Rs 1.2 lakh per year

HRD: Access to IIMs is limited to the elite
Position paper: Average family income of students is around Rs 2.11 lakh and they earn on an average Rs 6 lakh after passing out

HRD: Government will provide grants to IIMs to cope with the low fee regime
Position paper: Grants from government have dipped from over Rs 15 crore in 1999-2000 to Rs 6.58 crore in 2002-2003

Calcutta, March 12: Armed with statistics, faculty members of the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta have waded into the battle over the Murli Manohar Joshi-inspired proposal to cut tuition fee.

A position paper prepared by the faculty, however, deals with more than the fee reduction move, offering a point-by-point rebuttal of the arguments of the human resource development ministry for some of its other measures as well.

“It contains what the faculty members at IIMC feel about the government decision. We have also tried to analyse the impact of the decision on the future of management education,” said a faculty member.

The report has already been sent to the IIMC board members, scheduled to meet on March 27 and decide on the fee reduction, one way or another.

“We have done our bit to voice our concern. Now, it’s up to the board to decide. We expect the board will take its decision after consulting the facts presented in the report,” said a source.

The IIMC board is headed by ITC chairman Y.C. Deveshwar.

The report concludes that financial dependence will increase the chance of interference in the institute’s academic autonomy. “The fee cut is part of a package that could imply a loss of autonomy and dilution of excellence. It has far-reaching implications for management education in India. Are we going back to a regime of price control and its associated inefficiencies'” asks the report.

It presents numbers to show how the deficit (the difference between the collection per student and the expenses per student) has increased despite fee increases since 1994. From Rs 98,000 in 2000-01, the net deficit per student has swelled to Rs 1.2 lakh in 2003. The report says fees have been kept around 62.5 per cent of the direct revenue expenses on an average during the ongoing 10th plan period.

Despite the deficit, the facilities offered to students at the institute were never compromised with and resources were mobilised through executive training programmes and projects were used to augment the IT network and library resources and kick off new initiatives like exchange programmes with foreign universities.

Drawing inspiration from a recent decision taken at Harvard University to waive fees for students with a family income below a certain level, the report suggests that the ministry earmark a part of its grants to the IIMs to subsidise “poor students” and meet its stated objective of “empowering the disadvantaged”.

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