The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Management quota seat bazaar hots up

Sunando Roy (name changed) is willing to shell out up to Rs 8 lakh to get his son admitted in a reputed private engineering college for a degree in computer science. As his son’s rank in the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) merit list is a little over 35,000, private engineering colleges are his only hope.

With the government allowing private engineering colleges to sell 10 per cent of their seats from the management quota at a premium, the technical education bazaar is hotting up.

“This is a new phenomenon in our state, which has primarily been a South Indian syndrome. We never knew that there is such demand for management quota seats,” said the owner of a private engineering college.

Till a few years ago, students from West Bengal would go to South Indian cities to pursue engineering courses and many of them gained admission through the management quota.

The mushrooming of private colleges in Bengal — the count is 50-plus now — slammed the brakes on the train to South India. But till 2006, these colleges could not charge more than Rs 41,000 a year, as stipulated by the government, from students.

A mid-April notification from the government on introduction of 10 per cent management quota seats has changed the rules of the admission game. Besides making it mandatory to offer management quota seats only to JEE rank-holders, the government has also instructed the institutes to offer free education to 10 per cent of the students.

Whether the free seats will get filled up or not remains to be seen, but there is little doubt that the management quota seats will sell like hot cakes.

“We are receiving a number of enquiries on fees for management quota seats. We have not taken any decision as yet and so we are asking the students to get back to us after June 25,” said Kisan Kejriwal, director of MCKV Engineering College.

As it took over 30 years for the Left Front government to review its stand on colleges selling seats against hefty fees, the private engineering colleges are going slow and expecting the government to announce a clear guideline on fees for management quota seats.

“Students will have to pay higher fees for these seats… But we are awaiting clear instructions from the government,” said Reverend Sailesh Mukhopadhyaya, principal, St Thomas Engineering College.

According to sources in the higher education department, the government does not have any plans to interfere on fees for management quota seats.

“There is no point in setting any limit, as some of the colleges were taking money from students in clandestine ways… We decided to allow a management quota this year to bring an end to these underhand deals,” said a government official.

So, the apex court ruling that fees for management quota seats cannot exceed four times the fees for general students will be the guiding principle.

But parents are willing to pay even more than that, as they queue up at private engineering colleges to check out the price tag on courses like computer science, electronic engineering and electrical engineering.

Sharmistha Dutta (name changed), mother of a student with 3,500-plus rank on the JEE merit list, can go up to Rs 1.75 lakh a year for a degree in electronic engineering.

“My daughter’s future is very important. Besides, the expenditure on my daughter will be more or less the same if I admit her in a college in Bangalore or Chennai,” the working mother summed up.

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