IIT fee hike: A move that will do more harm than good

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Imtiaz Ahmed, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur


 

After months of speculation over the Government’s stance, whether or not it will raise the fee of IITs, the inevitable has finally happened. Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has decided to hike the fee for undergraduate courses at IITs by more than double, from the current Rs 90,000 to Rs two lakh. Given that the Standing Committee of IIT Council (SCIC), the high-powered IIT panel all were recommending steep fee hikes, the decision to raise the fee was more about “when” than “if”. But many are a disappointed lot today. Their disappointment, however, is not without basis.

Over the years, the IITs have been facing severe competition from private institutions.  However, inherent brand advantage, good alumni network, and low fee helped IITs maintain supremacy over competitors. With a fee hike of about 122%, the IITs have lost that advantage. Its competitors have similar fee structure as that of IITs, but also, boast of better linkage with the private sector, more flexible decision-making, more updated course structure and less rigid rules on matters such as attendance.

A lot has been said to justify the fee hike but, the whole logic of recovering the money is flawed. Also, many of the IIT alumni have contributed to art, literature, politics, research and what not. They were able to do so because IIT provided them with an opportunity to interact with minds from diverse backgrounds; without burdening them with exorbitant fees, the repayment of which could take away their most creative, carefree and energetic period of life, their youth.

From an institute’s point of view, this hike was long due. The fee paid by students account for only 10-15% of the total expenditure incurred by the institute. It will increase to approximately 30-40% of the expenditure incurred after the hike, thus making the IITs less dependent on the government. The autonomy of the IITs is important as interference from the government causes unwanted disturbances in the functioning of one of the best technical institutes in the country. However, an abrupt fee hike of 122% is doing more bad than good.

All said and done, a raise of around Rs 1.25 – Rs 1.3 lakh per annum would have been a better move, with gradual hikes every few years. This sudden rise will deter the best minds from taking joining the IITs and also stop students from pursuing higher education as they will be burdened with loans of around Rs 10 lakh by the time they graduate.

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