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B-school chiefs join hands on uniform fee frame

Ahmedabad, June 6: The directors of the six Indian institutes of management have reached a “consensus” on a uniform fee structure and prepared a proposal that will be discussed with the human resource development ministry on Tuesday.

After a five-hour meeting, the directors raised hopes of resolution of the fee-cut controversy, saying they had prepared the proposal as advised by HRD minister Arjun Singh by taking a “total view of various aspects of the fee and autonomy issue”.

After the meeting, IIM Ahmedabad director Bakul Dholakia said: “Based on the consensus that emerged, we have prepared a proposal which will be discussed with the secretary, ministry of HRD, on June 8. Subsequently it will be presented to the respective boards for their consideration and approval.”

Dholakia — and the other directors — refused to give details of the proposal, saying, “we want the ministry to see the proposal first”.

The directors unanimously adopted a resolution on scholarships for needy students, according to a PTI report.

In the joint appearance the chiefs of the six institutions made before the media, they presented a picture of “bonhomie” without any sign of the differences that had arisen over Murli Manohar Joshi’s fee-cut order.

The February 5 order had the IIMs going different ways. Ahmedabad had refused to reduce fees, terming the order an assault on the institute’s autonomy, while Lucknow and Kozhikode had promptly obeyed.

IIM Bangalore had sided with Ahmedabad, while a controversy erupted at IIM Calcutta, with the faculty and chairman of the board at loggerheads over cutting fees.

Devi Singh, the director of IIM Lucknow, today claimed that “our resolution resembled that of IIM Calcutta”. Playing down differences, he said: “I’m not distant from IIM Ahmedabad. Professor Dholakia is my teacher. I have to obey him.”

P. Parashar, the director of IIM Indore, said his institute’s decision was misunderstood. It had decided to wait for the order of the Supreme Court, before which the matter had been raised.

“But now that there are no differences as we have reached broad-based consensus; we need not to go to the Supreme Court to resolve the fee issue,” he added.

Bangalore director Prakash Apte expressed similar sentiments. Asked whether all six IIMs agreed on a uniform fee, he said: “There is only one proposal that we have prepared, not six proposals.”

The board of IIM Indore is scheduled to meet on June 14 and its Calcutta counterpart on June 18. The Ahmedabad and Kozhikode boards will gather the next day. Bangalore and Lucknow will convene on June 21 and 23.

The HRD ministry is expected to take a final decision on the fee structure by June 25.

After Arjun Singh took charge, he told the directors to work out a uniform fee structure and indicated that the institutes could charge whatever fee they wanted as long as it did not become a hindrance to the education of meritorious students from any section of society.

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