Panel decries capitation fee

Merit being bypassed and scant respect shown to teachers, says Yashpal report

“Many private institutions charge exorbitant fees beyond the prescribed norms in the form of many kinds of levy not accounted for by vouchers and receipts and are unable to provide even minimum competent faculty strength,” the final report of the Yashpal Committee said.

Revealing the “scary regime of capitation fees,” which has made higher education unaffordable to a large number of eligible students, the committee, headed by former UGC chairperson Yashpal, said such exactions continued because of deficiencies in enforcement instruments and partly due to high-level reluctance to sort out the problem.

“Since the norms for fixation of fees are vague, the quantum of fees charged has no rational basis.The illegal capitation fees range from: Rs 1akh-10 lakh for the engineering courses; Rs 20 lakh-40 lakh for MBBS courses; Rs 5 lakh-12 lakh for dental courses; and about Rs 30,000-50,000 for courses in arts and science colleges, depending on the demand,” the report, which was submitted to Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal recently, says.

Lack of guidelines

The report, titled ‘Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education’, points out that there was no policy or guidelines to measure the competence of the investor in starting and managing a technical institution other than the requirement that it should be registered as a non-profit or charitable trust or society.

“This lacuna was exploited by many investors, who have no understanding or experience of the responsibilities associated with higher educational institutions,” it says adding that the trusts or societies that were formed largely consisted of immediate family members –– some of whom had little or no educational background, with some exceptions.

“Though no specific studies have been done, it is widely believed the sources of funds utilised by such family trusts or societies are either unaccounted wealth from business and political enterprises (occasionally with some bank loans for purposes of legitimacy)
or from the capitation fees charged from the students in addition to a plethora of unexplained fees charged whimsically by these managements,” it says. Alleging that quality of education suffered in a number of such institutions, the experts said in many private educational institutions, the appointment of teachers is made at the lowest possible cost. “They are treated with scant dignity, thereby turning away competent persons from opting for the teaching profession,” the report observes.

It also notes a number of “horrible” instances of malpractices where faculty was asked to work in more than one institution belonging to the management, their salary being paid only for nine months, actual payments being much less than the amount signed for, impounding of their certificates and passports, compelling them to award pass marks in the internal examination to “favourites” and fail marks for students who protest illegal collections and so on.

Stumbling block

* Private institutions charge fees beyond prescribed norms and in many forms of unaccounted levy

*They are unable to provide even minimum competent faculty strength

*These exactions continue because of deficiencies in enforcement instruments and some reluctance at the higher-levels

*There are no guidelines to measure the competence of the investor in starting and managing a technical institution

*Trusts and societies running these institutions are largely family-owned

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