Stating that while the expenditure a college has to meet goes up every year, revenue remains the same, several principals, at a roundtable consultation conducted by Observer Research Foundation (ORF), a thinktank, on Friday said fee hike was necessary.
The fee hike proposed by Mumbai University, which is at present on hold, would have enabled its affiliated colleges to increase their fees by 25 per cent, subject to certain conditions. The proposal, however, was met with stiff opposition from teachers’ and students’ organisations, as well as politicians. Subsequently, the state government directed the university not to implement it.
The principals of various colleges present at the consultation pressed the issue of a fee hike for the sustainability of the quality and resourcefulness of the educational institutions. “A fee hike is necessary in today’s times. The expenditure that the college has to meet increases every year, but the revenue remains the same. Under the 6th pay commission, several teachers are paid over Rs 50, 000 per month. The fees that the institutions gain after necessary deductions is hardly enough to pay them two months’ salary,” said Manju Nichani, principal of K C College.
According to ORF, tuition fee for undergraduate courses in Maharashtra has been Rs 800 for over 30 years. ORF officials said the annual fee for junior college (Classes 11 and 12) is around Rs 600 a year, of which Rs 240 goes to the government as tuition fee. For senior college, said educationists, the annual fee is Rs 4,125 for arts, Rs 5,325 for science and Rs 4,000 for commerce. Out of this, Rs 800 goes to the government as tuition fee, and Rs 600 as examination fee. Thus, in both the cases, the colleges are left with a small percentage of 14-15 per cent of the revenue for infrastructure and quality enhancement, said educationists.
According to principals, in case a college wants to introduce new courses, they are listed as unaided or self-financed courses. “Providing quality teachers becomes difficult without a fee hike,” Nichani added. The consultation also discussed the affordability of the proposed fee hike and the issues that might be faced by a financially-challenged student. “One possible way is to keep the fees higher for those who are financially well equipped and subsidise the fees for those who can’t afford it. Students from economically weaker sections should be given fee waiver, scholarships and aid so that the fee hike will not affect them,” said Sunil Mantri, principal of Narsee Monjee College.
ORF chairman Sudheendra Kulkarni said the power for education must be transferred from bureaucrats and politicians to people and institutions, so that institutions can make a comprehensive and learned decision about the economics of the education system. “The need of the hour is to take a look at the bigger picture and problems of the education system,” he added.