The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) fee hike, announced recently, has evoked mixed reactions from aspirants and their parents.

While most of them feel the extra Rs. 40,000 they will have to pay to study in an IIT is reasonable, they also hope the hike does not lead to private institutions demanding an increase in their fees, too.

“The average salary of an IITian is at least Rs. 8 lakh. This is much more than what students of private institutions and deemed universities are offered. So the student would be able to repay the loan in a couple of years,” said Rohan Pillai, a class XII student and an IIT aspirant.

Students like Rohan will take the new Joint Entrance Exam (JEE), a common entrance for all IITs and National Institutes of Technology (NITs), next year. “The fees charged by certain State universities is much less, so financially-conscious students might choose them over remote IITs,” said A.K. Prabhu, a physics teacher in a city school.

Parents seem to be worried. “It was just a few months ago that private engineering colleges increased their annual fees by Rs. 8,000 and deemed universities have been increasing their fees too. There is no complaining about the fees of the IITs. I have already spent around Rs. 1.8 lakh on coaching for my son and if he gets into an IIT, no bank will deny us a loan. But other universities might ask for an increase too,” a parent said.

Another parent justified the increase by pointing out that the fees for the residential programme included hostel fees too. “All the facilities at the IITs are subsidised. So it’s alright for most of us,” the parent said.

An IIT panel on Monday recommended raising the tuition fees of undergraduate courses from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 90,000 per annum. At the B. Tech level, the IITs admit nearly 10,000 students every year through a national-level entrance exam that tests around seven lakh students every year. Nearly, 9,000 students took the JEE from Tamil Nadu last year, of which over 300 cleared it.

Kala Vijayakumar, director, SSN Group of Institutions, said money has never been an issue with most students concerned about their career. “We have students who did not get into the discipline of their choice in a known IIT or got into a remote IIT. Students or parents will not bother about a few extra thousands if they are getting into an IIT.”

Justifying the hike, M. Ananda Krishnan, former vice chancellor, Anna University, and a member of the council of IITs, said, “The salaries of IIT faculty members and staff have gone up by nearly 70 per cent since the sixth pay commission was introduced recently. Moreover, prices of everything including electricity, laboratory material, supplies, and software have gone up. There needs to be a way by which we can mitigate some costs at least.”

IIT- Madras director Bhaskar Ramamurthi said the fee hike will not apply to students from STs and OBC backgrounds. “The fee for post graduate studies and research in IITs is very nominal. Also, only 50 per cent of the undergraduate students, about 1,700 of them, pay fees and their parental incomes are over Rs. 4.5 lakh per annum.”

The hike, Professor Ramamurthi said, was important to help balance the subsidy ratio, and not just aid the expenditure of the IITs. Besides, various fee waivers given to SC/ST students, IIT- Madras also utilises its alumni-endowment fund to provide assistance to them.

Last year, the Kakodkar Committee constituted by the council of IITs had suggested the four-fold increase in tuition fees to help IITs attain financial independence. The IIT council had given, in principle, approval for the recommendation to be implemented from 2013. “This time, the standing committee however, did not get into that. With loan facilities available, students might not find it very difficult to bear the fees,” Professor Ananda Krishnan said.

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