Aspiring engineers will now have to shell out more, a lot more, to study at the premier Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). From this academic year, starting June, students will have to pay Rs 2 lakh per annum for their four-year undergraduate programmes.
The fee hike is the steepest for the IITs so far - 120 per cent from the previous Rs 90,000 per annum. The premier tech institutes, however, said the hike was still short of what they spend per student.
According to the Union human resource development (HRD) ministry, the government spends Rs 6 lakh per IIT student every year. If the institutes have to generate the funds from the students, they would have to charge Rs 4 lakh more.
In a statement, the ministry said, "Keeping in view the interests of the students, the fee hike is capped at Rs 2 lakh per annum."
The report of the Standing Committee of IIT Council (SCIC) on funding of the IITs, submitted recently had recommended a revision of annual fee in IITs to Rs 3 lakh per year. "The rationale for the SCIC recommendation arises from the fact that the cost of maintenance of the IITs is to be met largely from student fees."
The Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes and differently abled students will get a complete fee waiver and most economically backward students (whose family income is less than Rs 1 lakh per annum) will get full remission of the fee. Other economically backward students (whose family income is between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 5 lakh per annum) will get a remission of two-thirds of the fee. "All students shall have access to interest-free loan under the Vidya Lakshmi Scheme for the total portion of the tuition fee payable," the HRD ministry said.
"All IITs are asked to use the increased student fee for infrastructure development with the assistance of funds from the Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA) so that the increased fee directly translates into better infrastructure for the students."
In the past, the IITs have revised their fee only thrice - in 1998, 2008 and 2013. In 2008, the IITs had doubled the fee for undergraduate courses from Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 a year.
In 2013, the fee was increased 80 per cent, up to Rs 90,000 per annum.
"If you look at what private colleges charge, the fees at the IITs are still less. But, we cannot go in for a very big increase as inclusivity is central to the IITs. The ministry had said though the fee could be increased, no deserving student should suffer on account of an increased fee," said an IIT director who did not wish to be named.
"We have a responsibility as public institutions. We cannot expect student fees to take care of the entire expense," Devang Khakhar, director, IIT-Bombay, had earlier told Business Standard.
Resources available with IIT-Bombay, about $14,000 (about Rs 9 lakh) per student, are much lower than those available to US universities and even Asian counterparts.
Sponsored projects at IIT-Bombay provide 24 per cent of its total revenue. For most global peers, this is in the range of 60-80 per cent.
"Higher education in Indian public institutions is highly subsidised resulting in an additional burden for the income tax payer. With collateral-free education loans easily available, students of such premium institutions can effortlessly fund their studies. The extraordinary salaries offered immediately after graduation to most of the students can be used to repay such loans," said Rohin Kapoor, director, Deloitte in India.
Deloitte is one of the major recruiters at the IITs.
So far, IITs have waived 90 per cent of the tuition fee for about 22 per cent of students from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
The remaining 10 per cent includes examination fees and other miscellaneous charges. Also, 90 per cent of the fee is waived for another 25 per cent of the students whose parents' annual income is less than Rs 4.5 lakh. The remaining 53 per cent students pay their full tuition fees.
The IITs meet 80 per cent of their expenses through financial grants from the Union human resource development ministry.
In contrast, the per-student fee at private engineering institutes like SRM University, VIT University Vellore and Manipal Institute of Technology is far higher.
At the SRM University, the fee for the four-year BTech programme is between Rs 7.4 lakh and Rs 13.4 lakh, depending on the course. VIT Vellore charges Rs 6.52 lakh for its BTech courses, while Manipal Institute of Technology charges between Rs 10.50 lakh and Rs 11.61 lakh, depending on the course.
On the other hand, at Stanford University, regular quarterly tuition for the 2015-16 academic year, payable for the autumn, winter, and spring quarters, is Rs 10 lakh. At the Massachuttes Institute of Technology, undergraduate programme fee is Rs 10 lakh for summer term and Rs 16 lakh for the Fall and spring terms.
According to the IITs, with salaries and staff cost being fixed, they have to budget for other expenditures as well. The small amount left is then used for development activities on the campuses.
IITs' annual expenditure ranges between Rs 150 crore and Rs 350 crore. Around 80 per cent of the operational expenses are funded by the government.
While 10-15 per cent is taken care of by earnings from tuition fees for various programmes, the rest is managed with returns on endowments and investments. Donations from alumni stand at about three to five per cent of the operating revenues for older IITs, compared with 10-50 per cent for top American universities.
A 2011 report by the Anil Kakodkar committee, appointed by the Union human resource development ministry, then under Kapil Sibal, to recommend autonomy measures to facilitate IITs' scaling greater heights, had proposed: "The fees charged by the IITs should cover the full operational cost of education, which works out to roughly 30 per cent of the total current cost of education."
No weightage to Class XII marks in JEE from 2017
Class XII marks will not be a factor for determining rankings in the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) for admissions to engineering undergraduate courses from next year. "After examining the Ashok Mishra Committee's report and public feedback, MHRD has decided on a few changes in the JEE pattern for 2017. The present system of allotting 40 per cent weightage to Class XII marks for determining ranks in JEE shall be dispensed with," an HRD ministry official said. However, Class XII scores will be a crucial parameter only for determining the eligibility criteria for the exam. To qualify for appearing in exam, students need to have at least 75 per cent marks or be in top 20 percentile in Class XII examination. SC, ST students should have 65 per cent marks.