TAMIL NADU

Self-financing colleges plan own admission system

CHENNAI Nov. 24. Self-financing engineering colleges, which have 80 per cent of the total engineering seats in the State, are working out a credible admission procedure for next year and a fee structure viable for institutions as well as students.

Enquiries with a cross-section of colleges show that they may charge a fee ranging from Rs.35,000 to 50,000 a year, depending on the institution's popularity. However, some institutions, which are establishing a name for themselves only now on the State's engineering education map, are likely to come up with their own "centralised admission system", akin to the single window procedure, which was followed in the past six years.

But thousands of aspirants and their parents are worried that following a recent Supreme Court order, which declares the "scheme under the Unnikrishnan case unconstitutional", the single window system will no longer be available to give equal weightage to merit and reservation norms. They are hoping that the colleges would themselves come forward to help meritorious and poor students pursue engineering courses in Tamil Nadu.

Of the 240 colleges in the State, only a dozen or so are State-funded or aided. The rest are unaided, including 60 `minority-run' institutions. The total intake is about 70,000.

The Tamil Nadu Self-Financing Engineering College Managements Association president, Jeppiar, says, "Even the court has held that a reasonable surplus to meet the cost of expansion and augmentation of facilities does not amount to profiteering and that the institutions can have their own procedure of admission and selection... but it must be fair and transparent and the selection be based on merit."

"Top-notch colleges" would advertise details of fee and other payments, seats availability and eligibility criteria. "Our colleges will give concession to meritorious students, and provide for reservation to SC/ST and weaker sections. Based on this, the students can apply and seek admission."

R. Jeevarathana, a legal adviser for many "sought after colleges", says institutions such as the RMK Engineering near Chennai will set apart a chunk of seats for meritorious students and collect lower fees.

However, he and the Velammal group chairman, M.V. Muthuramalingam, say that if the colleges are to provide quality education and add-ons such as foreign language or computer courses, "we need Rs.50,000 each (the fee now collected under payment seat) from a majority of students".

A.Kanakaraju of Jaya Engineering says the situation could be difficult for the "not-so-popular colleges", which have benefited from the SWS, as they had so far got at least half the seats filled and stayed afloat in the market.

They are likely to approach the Anna University or follow their own centralised admission so that "a reasonable number of seats are filled".

Articulating the concern of students, a formal Additional Solicitor-General of India, G.Masilamani, says that if the single window system is scrapped, "we will have only rich students pursuing quality education in a few five-star institutions, while poor students cannot hope to get into a good college.