Guwahati, Sept. 19: The Assam government has decided to impose a ceiling on fees charged from students by colleges in the state to prevent them from fixing the amounts according to their own whims and fancies.
Education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma today said there was no uniformity in fees charged by colleges and some were charging “exorbitant” or extra fees from the students.
“To meet various recurring and unforeseen expenditures, colleges charge fees under various heads such as laboratory, magazine and annual day fees from the students. But no guidelines or yardstick is followed while fixing the fees and this results in variation in the fee structures of different colleges. Such a situation must come to an end in the greater interest of the students. Why should students of rural colleges pay less than their Guwahati counterparts? We have decided to create a contingency fund for colleges to meet recurring and unforeseen expenditures,” Sarma said.
The minister, who was interacting with the media on the sidelines of an education department event here, said creation of the contingency fund would prevent colleges from charging “various types of fees” from students. He said once the finance department approved the fund, the education department would impose a ceiling on fees charged from students.
“Colleges charging fees above the ceiling would be punished and served show-cause notices,” Sarma said.
Though students and guardians have welcomed Sarma’s initiative, principals and faculty members of colleges have expressed reservations.
Bhubaneswar Bora, principal of Pandu College here, said if the government did not sanction and release the contingency funds on time, it would be very difficult for colleges to meet recurring and unforeseen expenditures. “For instance, colleges, especially those that have science streams, cannot afford to wait for long to purchase various laboratory materials and pay electricity bills. Going by the functioning of various government departments and slow movement of files in Dispur, I have doubts whether the colleges would receive the funds on time,” he said.
Sarma, who had earlier distributed cheques of Rs 1 crore each to 77 colleges in the state for infrastructure development, said the amount must be spent on setting up digital libraries and virtual classrooms. He said all universities and colleges in the state would be able to collaborate, share knowledge and expertise with the world’s top bracket institutions by connecting them with the national knowledge network.
The network will enable scientists, researchers and students from different backgrounds and diverse geographies to work closely to advance human development in critical and emerging areas. “Colleges will have to set up virtual classrooms to connect with the network,” Sarma said.