VTU says such fees fall in legally grey area; government yet to decide on them

The spectre of excess fee in colleges has reared its head again with students in at least two colleges accusing their institutions of demanding additional fees under various heads. The colleges are: Mangalore Institute of Technology and Engineering (MITE), Moodbidri, and Canara Engineering College.

Students of MITE said the college issued a circular to pay “fees for academic year 2013-14” by May 15. However, the circular does not mention the break up of the fees, nor does it specify the amount, and instead only asks students to pay by cash.

One student paid Rs. 38,880 (Rs. 35,000 as tuition fees, and the remaining amount as e-learning fee) and received a receipt from MITE, while for an addition fee of Rs. 20,750 as “college fees”, he received a receipt from Rajalaxmi Education Trust. Other students paid to Rs. 25,500 as “college fees”.

The students said the total “college fee” demanded is Rs. 28,500, but is subject to bargaining.

Acting principal of the college Rajashekhar said the extra fees “were a norm”. However, the validity of “norm” the principal is referring to is still being discussed between private colleges and the government.

The acting principal said, “All colleges under VTU collect extra fees, which is for laboratory and development of college infrastructure.” He denied that there was a deadline of May 15. “We have only asked students to pay before their examinations and vacations start. Everyone has to pay by August, but it is not necessary to pay now,” he said.

When this was brought to the attention of Vishweshwaraiah Technological University (VTU) Registrar K.E. Prakash, who sent out a letter to principals of all colleges restraining institutions from collecting tuition fees before the academic year began saying it placed an “extra burden” on students and parents. However, on the issue of the specific college, the Registrar said the college was not found taking college extra fees. This runs contrary to both the receipts with The Hindu as well as the Trust’s insistence that it was a “norm”.

Similarly, in Canara Engineering College, students were asked to pay Rs. 13,800 as college fees, which is apart from the tuition fees, or other fees that cover university charges, book, bank, library deposit, alumni association. Nagesh Prabhu, Principal, said the government had “not banned” taking additional fees for infrastructure. “How do you expect only tuition fees to pay for the entire college, when teachers’ salaries are being increased yearly?” he said.

Legal grey area

Mr. Prakash said many managements collected “college fees” to pay for infrastructure that is legally mandated by accreditation bodies and statutory bodies such as All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

“Infrastructure for sports, seminars, libraries, placement training are not included in tuition fees, and so managements charge extra on it,” he said.

However, he said the taking of these is still in a legal grey area. “The government has formed a committee to look into the demands of the colleges. There has been no decision yet,” he said.