The disagreement between the State government and private college managements over the extra fee issue was out in the open at a press conference here on Thursday.

Soon after Higher Education Minister R.V. Deshpande announced that both parties had arrived at a consensus on the issue of collecting additional fee, M.K. Panduranga Setty, secretary of the Karnataka Unaided Private Engineering Colleges’ Association butted in, saying “negotiations are on”, leaving government representatives red-faced.

“As for the issue of the ‘other fee’, we are still in negotiations with you (the government). There is no final decision,” Mr. Setty said.

This, even as Mr. Deshpande claimed to have taken private college managements on board about letting the government decide on the additional fee once all the details of the fee collected was hosted on the Department of Technical Education website.

“We had many meetings with the managements; one on July 1, then on July 20 the Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU) wrote to all the colleges not to collect extra fee. We have warned very clearly that no extra fee can be collected… according to the consensual agreement they are not supposed to. But it is also a fact that some colleges are not adhering to this,” the Minister said.

When reporters pointed out that no action was taken against any college last year though at least 1,000 complaints were received by the one-man regulatory committee, Mr. Deshpande said: “We will take action; the government will not hesitate to disaffiliate colleges. The government’s arms are long. We will use legal provisions.”

He also said the government was planning to implement the Karnataka Professional Educational Institutions (Regulation of Admission and Determination of Fee) Act, 2006 next year, after which “things will become more transparent.”

Defensive

Mr. Setty, however, said it would be impossible for colleges to sustain on the tuition fee collected from students.

“If we are forced to collect only that amount, we will have to withdraw all the additional facilities to the students for which we charge for.”

Referring to the government’s flip-flop on the categorisation of colleges to allow a certain amount of extra fee to be collected, he said: “The association was okay with the categorisation, but the colleges did not want to be graded.”

More In: Karnataka | National