IIT Fee Hike: Step in the Right Di­rec­tion

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page -

The de­ci­sion to hike an­nual fees from .₹ 90,000 to .₹ 2 lakh for the un­der­grad­u­ate pro­gramme at the In­dian In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy (IIT) is a wel­come step to­wards re­duc­ing its de­pen­dence on the gov­ern­ment to meet re­cur­ring costs. The hu­man re­source devel­op­ment min­is­ter, who heads the de­ci­sion-mak­ing IIT Coun­cil, car­ries for­ward the logic of ex­pand­ing the IITs’ fi­nan­cial au­ton­omy as had her pre­de­ces­sors in the UPA, who had raised the fee from .₹ 25,000 to .₹ 90,000 but baulked at ac­cept­ing the Anil Kakod­kar com­mit­tee rec­om­men­da­tion of 2011 to raise the fee to .₹ 2 lakh.

This will not keep out any el­i­gi­ble young­ster ei­ther: the tu­ition is waived: in full for Sched­uled Castes and Tribes, dif­fer­ently-abled, and those with an­nual fam­ily in­come of up to .₹ 1 lakh, and two-thirds for those with fam­ily in­comes be­low .₹ 5 lakh. Up to 50% of the stu­dents will pay the en­hanced tu­ition fees. Stu­dents ad­mit­ted to IITs are guar­an­teed in­ter­est-free loans, and the bank­a­bil­ity of the de­gree means a high ap­proval rate with lit­tle or no col­lat­eral. The Aus­tralian model of de­ferred pay­ments would be still bet­ter. In this, the fees are low for every­one but those who take up em­ploy­ment out­side de­fined na­tional pri­or­ity ar­eas have to pay ad­di­tional fees, which make up for the sub­sidy, over a cer­tain num­ber of years. In the cur­rent In­dian model, fur­ther in­no­va­tion is pos­si­ble to re­duce the cost of ed­u­ca­tional loans for all dis­ci­plines.

The sub­stan­tially higher tu­ition fee, how­ever, is only a third or a fourth of the gov­ern­ment’s ac­tual ex­pen­di­ture on an un­der­grad­u­ate IIT stu­dent. The IITs must ag­gres­sively fo­cus on get­ting en­dow­ments, alumni con­tri­bu­tions and do­na­tions, and in­creased earn­ings from con­sul­tancy, re­search and patents if they are se­ri­ous about fi­nan­cial au­ton­omy.

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