The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Colleges come up with quota offer

New Delhi, Aug. 26: Private engineering colleges are ready to voluntarily introduce quotas to pre-empt the Centre imposing a reservation system on them.

A seven-member Supreme Court bench recently freed private unaided colleges of all government quotas. These include seats reserved for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe students as well as a general quota filled purely through a test of merit.

This leaves private engineering colleges free to only have the management quota, under which well-off students gain admission paying much more than those who get in under the government quotas. Management quota students do not have to appear for a merit test.

Currently, the proportions of management and government quotas aren’t fixed. Each state has its own formula.

The Centre has already set in motion a process to undo the Supreme Court judgment and restore reservation for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe students as well as the quota for meritorious students.

The private colleges earn much more from management quota students; so they do not want the Centre to impose on them a quota system that does not suit them.

“Many engineering colleges in the south have approached state governments. They are willing to voluntarily introduce quotas without the government’s intervention,” a senior human resource development official said. “The Centre is yet to take a view on the matter. It is keeping all its options open.”

State education ministers will meet in New Delhi tomorrow to discuss how to get around the Supreme Court judgment. The human resource development minister has already held talks with all political parties.

All political parties agree that a law must be brought re-imposing the quotas on self-financing colleges. Tomorrow’s meeting with the state education ministers, the Centre says, is significant because education is on the concurrent list. The Centre does not want to be seen stepping on the toes of the states.

Human resource development ministry officials say that one of the reasons the private colleges want to introduce government quotas is that they can no longer fill up seats under the management quota and their source of funds is drying up.

“Private engineering colleges have mushroomed. Well-off students are shunning run-down private colleges and going for the better colleges,” an official said. “It is not from a sense of altruism that these colleges want to introduce quotas themselves.”

The proposal is likely to be discussed at tomorrow’s meeting of education ministers.

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