Here’s the insightful neutral take on the recent steep fee hike of IITs

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The annual fee for undergraduate courses in all 23 branches of the Indian Institute of Technology will be hiked from Rs 90,000 to Rs 2 lakh from the upcoming academic year. Students at IIT Kharagpur protested against the hike by shouting slogans on the campus (although it is now clear that the hike is applicable only to new batches and not to existing students – source).

This is why the IIT fee hike is perfectly fine:

  • IITs and all other institutions (including private colleges) revise their fee almost all the time. May be not by this much, but a fee hike is a norm (with prices of everything going up with time). And who can better decide the fee correction than an expert panel of IIT directors themselves (which is pretty much the case here – source)? The expert panel first proposed the revision to a Standing Committee of the IIT Council (SCIC) and was approved. Only then was it taken to HRD Ministry for final approval. So basically those running the system figured out what the adequate fee should be (and nothing was dictated from outside the system). This sounds pretty legit.
  • SC/ST students, those with disabilities and from the economically backward strata of society will be spared the steep increase. Students from different income categories will pay different amounts of fees (like always). Provisions for scholarships exist as usual. And getting educational loans for IITians has always been relatively easy. That pretty much means it is unlikely any student will be denied the opportunity to get admission because he or she is unable to pay the fees. The tricky part really is still to crack the competitive JEE. 🙂

Issues with the IIT fee hike:

  • The initial issue was less with the updated fee but more with the lack the basic clarity in message that it would be applicable only to the upcoming batches and not to those who are already studying in IITs (has been clarified now). This even led to protests in some campuses.
  • As per reports, one of reasons for increasing the fee was greater financial autonomy (source). But apparently the enhanced tuition fee still accounts for only one-third of what the government spends on an IIT student. (Source). Can this really improve the independence of IIT’s then? There needs to be so much more focus on increasing their financial resources in other ways, through endowments, alumni contributions and donations, and increased earnings from consultancy, research and patents (not that they are not already being done).
  • With time, fee for everything needs to be revised – but why does it have to be in such a steep step-wise manner? A gradual revision will be much appreciated.
  • As the fee keeps going high and high, might it slowly become more and more difficult for IITians to be part of the startup revolution? Taking up corporate jobs makes it safer to pay back loans at the end of the day!

We don’t want to blindly justify the steep rise nor want to rant just against it. You have with you both sides of the argument now and you can draw your own conclusions. Let us know if we missed out on any point, on either side.

Original post by Neha Kirpal, edited by Amrit Vatsa.

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2 thoughts on “Here’s the insightful neutral take on the recent steep fee hike of IITs

  1. Poonam Kirpal / April 18, 2016 at 11:11 am

    The hike in fees for any commodity is necessary keeping the escalating costs. However whenever it happens protests are inevitable. Be it for essentials like, gas,electricity, water,food stuff etc or luxury items like electronics,vehicles or real estate. Some one is always affected. But in the case of IIT’s it was long over due as the quality of education imparted is very superior and the government is supplementing heavily. If the argument is that the IIT ians are compensated generously once they pass out successfully even then the underprivileged need the initial capital to complete their education in those 5 years. Here I think the government should step in to ensure easy loan taking policy where by everyone gets an equal opportunity to access the course and repay the cost as per the contract. This is a reasonable route.

  2. Most of the Central Universities, for example, University of Delhi, and the government medical institutions have not been able to raise their fees, and the IITs have been doing over the years. The most prestigious medical institution, AIIMS, New Delhi, charges peanuts by way of tuition fee from its MBBS students. The reason of IITs to have more financial autonomy does not cut ice, when they depend on the central government for most of their funding. I think IITs should be busy brainstorming to find out what can bring IITs into world scene, so that at least some of them figure in top 20 institutions. They should also find out ways to retain their alumni in the fields for which they were trained. It is no secret that most of them soon after passing out join corporate financial institutions, or start preparing for CAT or civil services. They have been trained as engineers, and they should learn to feel proud to be engineers.

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