The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are set to get an extra allocation of around Rs 30 crore each next year as per the revised Block Grant Scheme approved by the Union Cabinet on Thursday.
For the first time, the revised scheme — applicable to the seven old IITs, IIT(BHU) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore — links the grant with the number of students in an institute and could thus motivate IITs to attract more students.
The Kakodkar Committee has recommended “scaling the IIT system to 16,000 faculty and 160,000 total student strength” by 2020. The committee also recommended that IITs should become financially independent.
This year, the IITs raised the fee for undergraduate students from Rs 50,000 to Rs 90,000 per annum. But without an increase in grants, they were not making a ‘serious’ effort to increase the number of students, as more students means more classrooms, hostels, and other additional expenses.
On the other hand, some fear that linking the grant with student strength could put IITs with less students at a disadvantage.
“The formula is too simplistic and does not take into account the fixed cost which is independent of student strength. Also, there has to be a transition period. Besides, I feel the cost per student that has been put at R2.50 lakh is on the lower side,” said former IIT Kanpur director Sanjay Dhande.
But, ministry officials and other experts contradict this.
“The idea of giving the grant on the basis of the number of students is good and is followed across the world,” said IIT Bombay director, Devang Khakhar.
The non-plan grant covers the salary of employees, pension and maintenance charges. The 15% increase for next year takes into account the rising prices, increase in student and faculty strength and pay-scale revisions.
“The revised scheme will support the IITs in their phased expansion, besides stimulating greater revenues,” said a ministry official.
“In principle, all IITs should train more number of students, particularly at post-graduate level. The new scheme can give us a direction,” said the IIT Kanpur director, Indranil Manna.
“The block grant will allow each IIT to use the grant in a manner that is unique to itself. Although, there would not be a substantial difference in the amount of the grant (next year), what is important is that it would be used more efficiently,” said IIT Roorkee director Pradipta Banerji.