Fee hike advice for varsities

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By BASANT KUMAR MOHANTY
  • Published 9.08.13
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New Delhi, Aug. 8: The human resource development ministry has advised India’s central universities to increase tuition fees across all streams to cut down their dependence on the government, which now helps them with grants.

The advice, government officials and university sources said, was aimed at boosting the finances of the 44 varsities to meet expenses, including maintenance, salaries of teachers and staff, and scholarships for under-privileged students.

“The government has advised the central universities to revise fees and other charges to make them reasonable in view of the increase in electricity and water charges, salaries, scholarships, etc. The executive councils of the universities will have to consider the proposal,” an HRD ministry official said.

The universities, the official added, would have to ensure that economically disadvantaged students were not deprived of scholarships.

If the universities decide to go along with the fee-hike suggestion, they would be following the IITs, which increased annual tuition fees from Rs 50,000 to Rs 90,000 for BTech students this year.

Central universities and their affiliated colleges have their own fee structure. For example, while Delhi University colleges charge around Rs 240 a year, the newly created central universities charge about Rs 10,000.

Each central university is governed by its own rules. The government cannot direct the universities on fees and academic matters but can advise them. R.K. Chauhan, former secretary of higher education regulator UGC, said the older varsities have been charging nominal fees for decades, but voiced doubts whether the government’s advice would be followed.

“The government has given such advice earlier too. But whenever there has been a move to increase tuition fees, it has been opposed by student and teacher groups. The protests have often led to violence,” he said.

Over 20 million students are enrolled in higher educational institutions across the country. Six per cent of them study in the 44 central universities and affiliated colleges. This means, any hike in fees would affect over a million students.

The new central universities are not too worried about the advisory. Central University of Bihar vice-chancellor Janak Pandey said the varsity was already charging Rs 5,000 per semester.

“We have decided to increase the tuition fee by 10 per cent every year,” Pandey said.

The IITs too have decided to increase fees every year till they are able to meet operational costs. For these premier tech schools, the operational cost works out to around Rs 2.5 lakh a year for every student.

The idea of hiking fees has been supported by the Planning Commission in the 12th plan document, which has been approved by the National Development Council represented by all chief ministers.

The plan panel wants state governments to increase tuition fees in their public-funded institutions.