Extra fee row rages as govt takes a backseat

Extra fee row rages as govt takes a backseat

The ongoing controversy over the extra fees charged by many private engineering colleges could have been avoided had the State government worked out a formula last year.

While students are being taken for a ride by colleges this year too, the government has done little except to raise a shallow voice of protest. 

While the Karnataka Unaided Private Engineering Colleges’ Association (KUPECA) asserts that the consensual agreement does not bar its members from charging students for “other facilities” provided by them, the government says the extra fee is “illegal”.

The fee notified by the government includes tuition charges and other fees. A BE seat in an aided college costs Rs 18,090 (tuition fee of Rs 15,000 and other fees of Rs 3,090) and unaided college Rs 36,090 (non-minority institutes) and Rs 41,590 (minority).

The Karnataka Examinations Authority (KEA) has broken up the heads of expenditure coming under the “other fees”. 

These include charges for sports and games, association, reading room, medical examination, magazine, identification, handbook, library and library caution deposit (refundable), URF and other fee and admission fee.

But colleges insist that not all facilities provided to students have been included in “other fees”. At present, the extra fee starts at Rs 14,000. The upper limit is as per the services provided.

The KUPECA Secretary, M K Panduranga Setty, says the extra fee varies from college to college. 

“It can’t be uniform. A college might provide laptops and hence charge more,” he told Deccan Herald. 

The consensual agreement is silent on this aspect, Setty pointed out. The KUPECA had submitted a detailed statement of expenses incurred by individual colleges, to the Department of Higher Education in 2011. 

The then Principal Secretary, Latha Krishna Rao, had almost worked out a formula as per which a criterion of fees for extra services would be arrived at. “The formula would have been included in the consensual agreement, ending all the confusion,” he stressed. But since it was put on the back burner, the confusion continues. 

Siddaiah, the current Principal Secretary, has hit back at KUPECA, saying colleges cannot charge a penny more than the notified fees. 

“If they charge more, what is the sanctity of the consensual agreement,” he asked. The extra fee was “absolutely illegal”, he added. 

Interestingly, the consensual agreement has not yet been approved by the Supreme Court, a process that should have been over before counselling began. 

An emergency meeting has been called on Monday morning to discuss the issue. The new Minister for Higher Education, C T Ravi, will chair the meeting. 

21,064 take admission orders

Meanwhile, 21,064 students have taken admission orders from KEA. These include 1,331 in medical, 133 in dental, 148 in Indian System of Medicine and Homoeopathy (ISM&H) and 19,321 in engineering, and 131 in architecture. 

Monday is the last date for students to pay the demand drafts (DDs). They need to report to colleges by Tuesday. 

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