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Fee doubling draws students' ire

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COSTLY TIMES AHEAD: A third of the seats in the self-financing colleges are expected to be affected.
COSTLY TIMES AHEAD: A third of the seats in the self-financing colleges are expected to be affected.

SHYAM RANGANATHAN

The fee increase for management quota seats may have been recommended by a panel, but students do not find merit in it.

The fees for management quota seats in self-financing colleges has been nearly doubled for the current year. But the Balasubramaniam Fee Committee Report that suggested this fee hike has come under fire from many quarters.

According to the new regulations, the fees for government quota seats will remain unchanged while the fees for management quota seats will be hiked from Rs. 32,500 per year to Rs. 62,500.

This will affect 35 per cent of the seats in the state according to the ratio worked out by the government.

Political parties have severely criticised the move for bringing an additional burden on students.

Since self-financing colleges constitute more than 80 per cent of the engineering education system in the state, this move will clearly affect a significant number of students.

On the other hand,the Consortium of Self-Financing Professional, Arts and Science Colleges chairman Jeppiaar argued at a hurriedly called press meeting that the fee hike was not sufficient.

The point being raised is that self-financing colleges need more funds to manage their infrastructure and impart quality education.

But with the current fee structure itself, some students say that the actual fees they pay far exceeds the prescribed amount. With books, transport, lab fees etc. the fees at a reputed city college comes to around Rs. 80,000 per year, a student says. With the current hike, parents will have to pay more than Rs. 1 lakh per year.

However, some students say this is not the full story as some colleges charge much more for seats under the management quota and collect the extra money in cash.

Capitation fees may have been banned but some kind of 'donation' is doing the rounds, students say.

The current fee hike will add further to the bill parents will have to foot as some students may have to shell out quite a few lakhs for their BE degrees.

Ma Foi Management Consultants Chairman Pandia Rajan noted in a recent seminar that payments in cash in the hope of a quick seat was becoming very common among parents trying to get their children an engineering degree.

This has resulted in engineering education becoming good business for some colleges, he says.

The current hike works out to Rs. 1.2 lakh over a 4 year course which might be affordable to many middle-class and upper middle-class families with access to loans. With cash payments reportedly in the range of a few lakhs in some cases, thishike might not even really matter.

But some sections of society will be directly ruled out of contention for management quota seats with the fee hike. With about 15 per cent of the 1.1 lakh seats left unfilled last year, and a greater number of seats (about 1.3 lakh) on offer this year, the hike might actually rebound on the engineering colleges.

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