New Delhi, Sept. 25: The human resource development ministry has decided that the Indian Institutes of Management must seek its “concurrence” every time the B-schools decide to increase fees, according to documents The Telegraph has accessed under the Right to Information law.
The controversial decision, which sources in the institutes said amounted to interference in their autonomy, came at a meeting HRD minister M.M. Pallam Raju held with IIM chairpersons and directors in April 2013.
The IIMs now enjoy full powers to fix tuition fees for their post-graduate programmes, which are considered equivalent to MBA courses offered by foreign universities. The board of governors of each IIM reviews the tuition fee every year.
According to the minutes of the meeting, the IIMs would have to fix tuition fees keeping in mind “our responsibility towards (the) economic condition of (the) society” and “every increase has to have the concurrence of the ministry”.
An IIM director said the government was unhappy over the frequent fee hikes by the business schools, which have been increasing fees every year.
IIM Ahmedabad, which hiked tuition fees from Rs 4 lakh to Rs 11.5 lakh in 2008, has been increasing the amount by nearly a lakh every year since then.
The B-school increased fees this year, too, like most of the older IIMs, which generate funds through fees and consultancy services to the extent that they don’t have to depend on the government for meeting operational costs like salaries, pension and maintenance. They get only grants for infrastructure development.
The older IIMs even plan to set up with their own funds campuses or centres in foreign countries. The seven new IIMs charge between Rs 8 lakh and Rs 10 lakh for the two-year PGP course.
Sources said the government’s directive to the IIMs to seek “concurrence” followed criticism and questions from Opposition parties in Parliament over the frequent fee hikes in these public-funded institutions.
“The government has been facing criticism as the IIMs increase their fees almost every year. The minister expressed displeasure over the frequent hike and wanted that any increase henceforth must get the ministry’s concurrence,” the IIM director said.
The fee structure in the IIMs is higher than in any other government institution, including the IITs that charge Rs 3.6 lakh for their four-year BTech course.
The government has direct control over the fee structure in the tech schools because any decision to hike fees is taken by the IIT Council, which is headed by the HRD minister. Central universities charge a nominal amount as fees. The fee in Delhi University, for instance, works out to Rs 240 a year for undergraduate students.
Another IIM director, however, said it was not clear if the B-schools would have to “get the concurrence separately” as the HRD ministry’s higher education secretary was a member of the board of governors of every IIM.
“When the board decides the fee hike, the secretary represents the ministry’s views. In a way, the decision is taken with the concurrence of the ministry since the secretary is a member of the board. I do not know if the IIMs have to get the concurrence separately,” the professor said.
A ministry official said the modalities of granting concurrence was being worked out and that each IIM may have to get the final concurrence from the minister.
The IIM director, however, said the institutes would protest if they were asked to get decisions taken by their boards vetted by the government. “The fee hike is done keeping in view the cost. Many IIMs pay higher salary to their faculty these days, that is why it is increasing,” he said.
The director said there was provision for scholarship for underprivileged students, apart from interest-free study loans.