New Delhi, June 20: The Planning Commission has recommended an increase in fees in higher education institutions in order to improve quality as well as quantity, particularly in the light of the Centre’s decision to increase quotas.
“The decision to extend reservation for OBCs in central educational institutions has highlighted the issue of inadequate capacity for non-OBC, non-SC/ST students in high quality institutions,” the Planning Commission says in an approach paper on the 11th plan.
“The government has assured that there will be sufficient expansion in the total number of seats to avoid any reduction in seats available for non-OBC, non-SC/ST students. The expansion is long overdue,” the commission says. “The 11th plan should aim for expansion even for the general category.”
The paper also brings up the sensitive issue of raising fees in higher education ' a subject no political party wants to actively champion fearing a backlash.
“Achievements of these objectives (quality and access) will require a substantial increase in resources devoted to this sector and successive annual plans will have to provide rising levels of budgetary support. However, this must be accompanied by internal resource generation by realistically raising fees,” says the commission.
Over the years, the total quantum of fees in colleges and universities has gone up even though the basic rates have remained more or less the same.
Former Delhi University vice-chancellor Deepak Nayyar had said during his tenure that the fees for under-graduate and post-graduate courses have remained static. Delhi University charges a monthly tuition fee of around Rs 15 for under-graduate courses and Rs 18 for post-graduate studies.
But the other components of the fees ' such as those for library development and campus activities ' have gone up, pushing the total up.
Colleges in Delhi University now charge between Rs 300 and Rs 1,000 a month as cumulative fees. This works out to an annual bill ranging between Rs 3,600 and Rs 12,000.
A section of higher education experts believes that the fees are still too low, especially in view of rising costs and compared with the amount spent on primary and secondary education.
The commission says fees should be raised. But at the same time, merit-based loan and scholarship programmes should be mooted through banks and other agencies to help the less-affluent students.