Fee worry as IIT tests private role in hostel
The Indian Institutes of Technology are set to experimentally hand over the management of their hostels to private players, raising the possibility of a sharp hike in hostel fees.
Friday’s decision by the IIT Council will increase the students’ burden at a time the institutes have resolved to raise their MTech tuition fee tenfold over the next three years and restrict the award of the monthly fellowship for these PG students.
The IIT Council, headed by human resource development minister Ramesh Pokhriyal, decided that IIT Delhi would kick off this experiment with running hostels in the public private partnership (PPP) mode.
If the experiment succeeds, “where possible, the PPP model would be implemented”, a Press Information Bureau media release said.
The IIT authorities feel their heavy hostel subsidies are driving up costs and preventing the tech schools from upgrading their hostels. For instance, IIT Delhi students pay a monthly hostel fee of only Rs 1,500.
Two council members said the hidden subsidies include the costs of security, cleaning and horticulture and the salaries of hostel employees.
Besides, the council felt, PPP management would also be a good idea because the teachers’ current responsibilities to administer the hostels eat into their research time.
“The hidden subsidies will stop and the hostel charges will increase. The government may give stipends to impoverished students,” one of the council members said.
He said a rough estimate suggested the monthly hostel fee per boarder would rise by around Rs 5,000.
The council has also cleared the building and running of new hostels by private players under a build-operate model.
An IIT Bombay teacher said the private takeover of hostel management would deter impoverished students from studying in the IITs, which are residential campuses.
“Unlike the Indian Institutes of Management, the distribution of students in the IITs cuts across all sections of society. This character of the institutes will be affected and they will gradually become institutions for the elite,” the teacher said.
The council has further decided that the tech schools will start short-term online courses for foreign students, as well as short-term diploma courses for domestic students, to increase revenues.
Also, the IITs will now get their courses accredited by the National Board of Accreditation since several foreign countries have been questioning their programmes’ credentials.
So far, the institutes have resisted NBA accreditation arguing they are a globally recognised brand. However, their graduates have been struggling to have their degrees recognised in some countries, such as Kuwait.
To obtain NBA accreditation, the IITs will have to get their programmes reviewed by external peer review committees.