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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Proposed IIT Fee Hike

IITs have recommended increasing their tuition fees from 50 k a year to 250 k a year. While I don’t deny the fact that IITs and IIMs are the finest institutes for engineering and MBA in the country, but the subsequent fee rise leads us to think certain issues.
The trend is potent. It gained momentum with the IIMs raising their fee from around 4-5 lacs to around 11 lacs .And then it followed to the other B-schools also...including my own,SCMHRD. And now IITs too vouch for the same. Premier Institutions have simply detected a growing market for their product (education that offers great career) and hence increased the exchange value. The question is what is our perception of education? Even though not the IIMs( because Management Institutes have always got that tag of capitalist, money crazy education), but IITs used to come with the perception of being the “right” place for the intelligent, who may be poor or rich. Graduation colleges are the first place where a student leaps into a world where he has got admission because of his mere self and not because of his family income, proximity to the locality or such causes. At least IITs were so. The main motivation of students to get through IITs used to be being extremely intelligent. The mere concept that “if” you are good enough, you can join an IIT, served as an energizing drink for aspirants. The solution that is being suggested by the IIT committees after the fee hike, in case of poor students is , the availability of “easy” loans. Given that India is a country with a huge chunk of its population staying in the suburbs, awareness about loans is a pain. Statistics from the RBI website suggest that only 0.6% of the loan amount allocated to education is being utilized in practice. Only 10% of the population in India has access to bank credit We should remember in this aspect that the prospective students to IITs are just Higher Secondary Pass outs; they may be brilliant but not aware about nitty-gritty of loan. And if they come from rural remote uneducated backgrounds, it is not expected for their guardians to know too.
So first question, will this fee rise not serve as a turn-off? Will it not de-motivate our young aspirants? Or else will this not motivate only a certain section of society, other left behind?
Secondly, tied to my first question, doesn’t, somewhere this has the smell of the age old problem…that we tend to add more to those who already are affluent? Increased fees of IITs, coupled with the near compulsory coaching classes in big cities, shifting the profiles of prospective students more and more towards being children of wealthy, aware parents…where does India stand in future?
Thirdly, can’t help drawing this analogy-earlier days parents used to get their unruly sons married early to “sunder, sushil bahu” who could keep them at home and tied to family. These days, educational institutes encourage students to take loans (managing yearly 2.5 lacs would be difficult for even middle class families) and tie them in the unending cycle of loans. An education loan at the age of 18, then a home loan at 25, car loan at 26 and here starts the inevitable EMIs…NO ESCAPE.
Fourthly, the primary reason premier institutes raise their fees is the want of autonomy. Accepting government grants is no longer desirable. Does this mean that premier institutes do not subscribe to the credibility of Government or it has some underlying problems that should be addressed?
Fifthly, how can we take steps collectively to increase awareness about bank loans in education and guarantee easy accessibility? There are bank managers who are reluctant or who simply not believe in the credit worthiness of students. How can we overcome such conservatives? May be Government can offer insurance schemes for students who would not be able to pay back.

However having raised this question, I would expect simple and intelligent solution to this problem such that the future remains secured…clichéd but true 

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