Professional course fee remains in limbo

Testing times

Professional course fee remains in limbo

The announcement by the Fee Regulatory Committee (FRC) chaired by Justice B Padmaraj that fees fixed by it is binding on colleges has once again exposed the contradictions inherent in the State government’s stand.

On Thursday, the FRC declared that “Institutions cannot charge either directly or indirectly, any other amount over and above the amount fixed as tuition fee by the committee except the statutory fee.”

As the fee fixed by the committee has not been revealed, this puts a question mark on the discussions of the government with private engineering and medical colleges on fee fixation. This means that fee cannot be fixed through negotiations. Higher Education Minister V S Acharya says that the report is still in a “sealed cover,” and the government will open it only if talks with the colleges fail. The move to keep in abeyance the report submitted by a committee set up as per a 2005 Supreme Court judgment (Islamic Academy of Education and another vs State of Karnataka) is not without reason.

Students will be hit
A source close to the minister explained: “The fee fixed by the committee will be significantly higher than what students under the CET quota are paying. If we do not enter into an agreement with private colleges, all students will have to pay this higher fee. Do you think all students will be able to bear these fees?” Under the government proposal, higher fees charged by the managements under the private quota will subsidise State students.
However, this is where the hitch lies. In December 2009, Justices V Gopala Gowda and K Ananda ruled that students are entitled to avail themselves of the fee fixed by the FRC constituted by the government. The government is arguing its way out by not “accepting” the report, but this strategy is likely to be questioned as it has to give adequate reasons as to why it is not accepting the report.

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