Justified revision

Upward revision of IIT fees was overdue.

The recommendation of a committee of Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) directors for an upward revision of the fees paid by students in these premier institutions makes sense for many reasons. IITs provide the best technical education in the country but the fees charged by them are heavily subsidised.  They are much less than the prevailing fees in other engineering institutions in the private and government sectors. Management schools charge almost three times the fees being paid by IIT students.  The fees in IITs are so low because they have not been revised periodically. There is no reason to keep them stagnant because graduates from these institutions get the best education and do not find it difficult to find well-paying jobs  after completion of their studies.

The IIT directors’ proposal is to increase the fees from the present Rs 50,000 to Rs 90,000 next year. A committee appointed by the government under former Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar had recommended a steeper hike in fees last year. The committee’s report is likely to be implemented in stages. The main aim of the upward revision is to make the IITs financially self-reliant. Dependence on their own resources will help them to improve standards  and to provide better facilities for students. There are 15 IITs now, up from the five a few years ago, and more  are being set up. The government has made huge investments in them as they need better infrastructure and facilities than other technical institutions.  These investments have to continue. But students can also bear a fair share of the cost as they stand to receive better education.

There is no case for fear that the proposed hike will adversely affect students from weaker backgrounds. The committee has recommended that those from socially and economically backward sections be exempted from the fee hike. A special loan scheme is also being devised to help other students who can repay the loan after completing their courses. The Kakodkar committee had also recommended that needy and deserving students may be awarded scholarships or loans without collateral security requirements. Even otherwise the terms for granting of educational loans have been generally  liberalised and banks cannot refuse to give them on specious  grounds. Financial independence and more autonomy will help the IITs to serve the students and the nation better.

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