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Private varsity fees

The UGC's move is expected to reduce the burden of “exorbitant” rates on students
No mechanism exists now to regulate fees charged by these institutes, though the UGC had made a similar attempt in 2011 that fell through for lack of government clearance.

Basant Kumar Mohanty   |   New Delhi   |   Published 28.11.19, 09:01 PM

The University Grants Commission has come up with draft rules to regulate fees private and private aided deemed universities charge for professional courses like MBBS and BTech in a move expected to reduce the burden of “exorbitant” rates on students.

The commission has uploaded the draft UGC (Fee in professional education imparted by private aided and unaided institutions deemed to be universities) Regulations, 2019, and asked for public feedback within 15 days.

No mechanism exists now to regulate fees charged by these institutes, though the UGC had made a similar attempt in 2011 that fell through for lack of government clearance.

UGC secretary Rajnish Jain said the draft rules on regulating fees had been prepared following a directive from the Supreme Court.

“The Supreme Court gave a directive to the UGC to frame regulations on fees. A committee of experts has prepared these rules. Once finalised and notified, the rules will have a binding effect on institutions,” Jain said.

Every state has such committees — headed by retired high court judges — to fix fees for professional colleges affiliated to state universities.

According to the draft rules, the UGC would set up one or more committees to fix the fee structure for each of the nearly 100 private and private aided deemed universities after considering a number of criteria, including average per-seat cost, quantum of aid and the demography of the area.

The per-seat cost will be worked out by calculating the expenditure on salary and allowances for teachers and staff, maintenance of building, laboratory and other infrastructure, and amortisation of the capital invested.

While calculating the fee, the committee will provide for a reasonable surplus of 10 to 15 per cent for the institution to plough back the fund for expansion.

Once the fee is determined for an institution, it shall remain valid for three years.

Each committee will have five members, according to the draft rules. An eminent educationist, who has either been a vice-chancellor or headed a statutory regulatory authority, will head each of these panels.

Every private and private aided deemed university must submit data on expenses to the committee concerned, which can verify the figures and approve different fees for different professional courses and different categories of students, based on their gender and socio-economic background.

Institutions violating the fee structure fixed by the committees can be fined up to Rs 10 lakh.

The draft regulations provide for an appellant authority, headed by a former high court judge. Institutions can file appeals within 30 days of an order on the fee structure fixed by a committee. The appellant committee will have to decide on appeals within 90 days.

Professor Sukhadeo Thorat, a former UGC chairman, said the regulations would help reduce the “exorbitant” fees several private deemed universities charge now.

“The major impact of the rule will be reduction in the exorbitant fees charged by several deemed universities. Since one committee will determine the fee of an individual institution, the fee structure will be different among deemed universities based on their infrastructure and quality,” Thorat said.

A former vice-chancellor of a private deemed university said institutions at present profit more on MBBS and BDS courses than engineering, with some charging as much as Rs 20 lakh a year for the MBBS course.

“These private institutions are known for falsification and exaggeration of their claims. They may produce inflated data to determine the fee on the higher side,” the former VC said.

UGC vice-chairman Prof. Bhushan Patwardhan said each committee would have the power to verify the data submitted and then proceed, thereby reducing the chance of fixing higher fees.

“The regulations can help check unreasonable profiteering by institutions. The committee will determine after it is convinced about the data. Secondly, every deemed university will have to disclose details about teachers, infrastructure and facilities on their website,” Patwardhan said. “They can be caught in case of any discrepancy.”

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