Go by the report

Go by the report

After a prolonged haggling over the fee to be charged for the engineering students in private colleges for the year 2011-12, the so-called ‘consensual agreement’ worked out between the government and the managements is nothing short of betrayal of public interests by those who were supposed to protect them.

The coterie of around 200 private managements which was insisting on an abnormal increase of fee charged for merit seats from Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000, quickly agreed to the government’s offer of a uniform fee of Rs 35,000 per student after learning that the B Padmaraj committee which went into the fee structure had recommended fee far below their expectations.

Having set up the committee under the direction of the Supreme Court and having received its report well in time, why did the government keep it under wraps and carried on negotiations with the managements? The committee, after all, had studied the balance sheets and facilities offered by different colleges before recommending a graded fee structure of Rs 24,000 to Rs 51,000 with a provision for 15 per cent annual hike over the next three years.

It appeared to be a more scientific study and the government was duty-bound by its own order to accept it. But, obviously some vested interests were at work as the government indulged in a fish market-like negotiation rather than implementing the committee’s report.

Since the Karnataka high court is looking into the whole issue, even now it is not too late to compel the government and the managements to accept the Padmaraj committee report rather than the arbitrarily fixed fee structure. One can’t lose sight of the fact that the managements are allowed to charge Rs 1.25 lakh per student for 40 per cent of their total entitlement of 55 per cent, with ‘no cap on fee’ for 15 per cent NRI and other seats within that quota.

Strangely, while the commercial aspects have been taken care of, there is no word yet on the details of ‘supernumerary quota’ of 5 per cent for poor-cum-meritorious students in all colleges.

There is also no clear picture regarding the fee burden on the students if the managements decided to implement the sixth pay commission’s salary structure for the teaching staff. The government will do well to clear the air once for all instead of resorting to ad hoc measures year after year and keeping the students and their parents on tenterhooks.

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