The government argues that the 2006 Act has plenty of advantages for students. Senior education officials point out that the new CET norms have a single common entrance test with centralised counselling, or in other words, a single window system of admission to achieve the twin objectives of transparency and merit. If the admission procedure followed by the private institutions fails to satisfy norms prescribed by the court, the admission procedure can be taken over by the State, substituting it with its own procedure.
Secondly, officials say Fee Regulatory Committee has the power to ask each professional educational institution to place before the Committee the proposed fee structure with all relevant documents and books of accounts for scrutiny before the commencement of the academic year. The committee will verify whether the fee is justified and it does not amount to profiteering or charging capitation fee; finally the committee is the one that approves the fee structure or determines some other fee which can be charged. Hence, government officials say the fear about high fees under the new norms is misplaced.The government argues it will be in control of admissions to private colleges too.
“Colleges have to tell the government how they will conduct the CET. They also have to forward the seat matrix to government. Approval will come only if government finds exam and admission procedures fair,” a senior official said.
Higher Education Secretary Dr Rajneesh Goel says that the 2006 Act and new CET help the weaker sections. “In the earlier system, we used to reserve 50 per cent of only government seats for SC/ST/OBCs. But now, we have reserved 50 per cent of the entire number of seats available to private colleges. The seats for SC/ST/OBCs have been increased from 16,000 seats to 36,000 seats.”
Asked why the 2006 Act was sought to be implemented now, seven years later, a senior official said that the government for very long was not in control of the seats private colleges had with them. “The private colleges were charging students arbitrary fees. The government wanted to implement the Act, because it sought control over the admission process undertaken by Comed-K. There was a consensual agreement between the State government and the private colleges to fix quota and fee. The government was quiet as long as it got its quota of government seats in private colleges and never asked a question about the status of Comed-K seats, whether they were being auctioned. It is to gain control of those seats too that the Admissions Overseeing Committee was set up.”
Pandurang Setty, secretary of the Karnataka Unaided Private Engineering Colleges Association, says the government has finally realised the need to implement the 2006 Act which allows for differential fee structure for individual colleges.
“Private colleges are just not getting enough money. Increasing fees is the only option. But government was not allowing this under the old system, in which decisions on fee were based purely on political reasons. This year, we alerted the government that if fee structure is not freed, good colleges will begin to shut down. We even told the government that Justice Gopal Gowda of the Supreme Court is expected to deliver a judgement that calls for a single fee structure. The government decided that it is best to implement the Act before the judgement came. The 2006 Act was sought to be implemented now because the Supreme Court is expected to take the stand that a single fee structure should be the norm.” “We need to calculate the fee keeping in mind costs of running an institution over three years. If you have to get good teachers and an efficient administration, you have to pay them well. If government can’t pay and if parents are unable to pay, who else will? In the new system, you will get colleges which charge a higher fee and colleges which charge a lower fee. People who can’t afford the former will have to go to the latter. This fee allocation will enable us to shore up our finances.”