Gujarat Universitys attempt to legalise development fee from the self-financed institutes and grant-in-aid colleges has created a controversy with some of the universitys executive and academic council members pointing at loopholes. But there are other universities that have been charging such fee for long. The development fee is collected from students by the colleges and in turn deposited with the universities with which they are affiliated. The controversy over the fee arose in GU when the new cess was introduced about eight years ago. Though most private colleges fell in line,one of them,Sheth C L College of Commerce,challenged it in High Court. The HC,in August,ruled in favour of the petitioner as GU statutes had no provision for charging development fee from students as also colleges,and restrained the university from collecting it. This landed the varsity in a dilemma. It had collected over Rs 40 crore under this head in the past few years. Many colleges had verbally demanded their money back. Returning it to colleges became a problem as it had used part of the money for development purpose. Colleges too faced problem as how to return the money to students. The colleges had not contributed it from their own funds.
As development fee was a big source of funds to meet the expenses for various activities for which GU did not receive grants from the state government,GU’s academic and executive councils on Monday last passed a resolution amending clause 120-B of the Gujarat University Act of 1949,with a view to legalising collection of development cess from SFIs and neutralising the high court verdict.
According to in-charge vice chancellor Dr. Mukul Shah,they would get the resolution ratified by the university syndicate and finally by the state government to amend the statute.
It will enable GU to collect development fee”,said Dr. Shah.
But an influencial member of the university syndicate Digvijaysinh Gohil has raised several issues about it,particularly with respect to transparency of the fund. He demanded that the money collected so should be properly recorded and colleges affiliated with it should be informed as to where and for what purpose this amount was spent.
Veer Narmad South Gujarat University(VNSGU) vice chancellor Dakshesh R. Thakar,when contacted,said that his university had been charging development fee from SFIs and grant-in-aid colleges at a rate of Rs. 200 per student annually ever since the university came into existence in 1968. According to him,VNSGU statutes provided for it. He said the sum collected in this way was mentioned in the university budget and utilised for construction of buildings and developing facilities that was used by all.
Gujarat Technological University(GTU) established in 2007 was also collecting development fund from SFIs affiliated to it. GTU vice chancellor Akshai Aggarwal said that they charged Rs. 300 per student per annum as development fee for setting up advanced laboratories and other academic activities. However,he said his university was contemplating to hike the amount because the varsity intended to set up centres of excellence and add more activities for training and academic upliftment of students.
However,Bhavnagar University established in 1978 did not charge development fee. Its VC D R Khorat said there was no such provision in his university’s statute.