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IIM holds fee at current level

Ahmedabad/New Delhi, April 3: A board meeting of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad kept the tuition fee for the coming academic session unchanged, avoiding a confrontation with Murli Manohar Joshi’s ministry while not giving in to its demand for a hefty cut.

Board chairman .R. Narayana Murthy said later: “We look forward to discussion (with the ministry) to find a solution acceptable to all and revise the fee, if the need arises. Till such time we maintain status quo to enable us to hold dialogue with an open mind, with a clean slate so that we meet the aspirations of all stakeholders.”

This means students enrolling for the coming academic year will pay Rs 1.58 lakh, the same as last year.

Other than the fact that IIMA wants to come to a negotiated settlement with the human resource development ministry that has been pressing for a fee cut to Rs 30,000 a year, it would also like to wait for a verdict from the Supreme Court. The next hearing in the case, where the ministry’s fee cut order has been challenged, is on April 8.

By not accepting the ministry’s diktat, however, the IIMA board has also asserted its prerogative to set fees.

Former Reserve Bank of India governor Bimal Jalan, who delivered the IIMA convocation address, questioned the decision to subsidise those who can pay and opposed undue interference in autonomous institutes.

Some of the IIMs have been opposing the fee cut proposal because they see behind it a plot to undermine their autonomy.

The ministry appears to have decided to wait and watch. Joshi said: “I have just come back from Allahabad. I can comment on the IIM resolution only after I have read it.”

Representatives of the ministry did not attend either the board meeting in Ahmedabad or in Calcutta. The IIM Calcutta board did not take a decision on the fee cut. ( )

A section of ministry officials believes dialogue is the path to follow since the institute itself has made the offer. No one knows when the talks will take place, possibly only after the polls. Whenever they are held, autonomy will be the issue the institute will highlight. “We look forward to discussions with the HRD ministry and expect a win-win situation,” said Murthy.

IIMA director Bakul Dholakia said the admission and financial aid committee would work out a package for needy students. The alumni association has accepted the responsibility to strengthen the scholarship fund.

Sources said IIMA has received assurances from senior politicians that the controversy would be settled after the polls. Some members of the society under which IIMA is registered are in touch with chief minister Narendra Modi, who is not exactly a Joshi admirer. Modi is believed to be keeping deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani — IIMA falls in his constituency — informed.

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