Financially strained IITs have sought replacement of fee concessions given to students from socially and economically backward sections with reimbursements and interest-free loans.
The recommendations were made to the IIT Council after a recent meeting of the institutes’ directors.
“The existing system of giving exemptions without any reimbursement of the cost incurred on such students is adversely affecting the financial viability of the institutions and affecting their corpus funds,” said a source privy to the meeting.
“Wherever the government wants to give free education to SC/ST/PwD students, the cost can be reimbursed to IIT using the direct benefit transfer (DBT) system, either by the ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment or by the MHRD,” the source said.
A final decision on the matter would be taken at a meeting of the IIT council, the highest decision-making body of the country’s premier technology institutes.
Earlier this year, the government had increased the IIT fees from Rs 90,000 to Rs 2 lakh per annum.
While announcing the hike, the human resource development (HRD) ministry had exempted students whose annual family income was below Rs 1 lakh from paying the fee. Students from families with an annual income between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 5 lakh were given a two-thirds remission.
Sources said following this, there was a sharp rise in under-graduate students seeking exemption from paying tuition fee, and the revenue, rather than going up, started dropping.
The directors have also suggested giving interest-free loans to economically backward sections instead of the current full or partial waiver policy.
“The existing policy for five-year interest subvention can also be replaced by four-year interest subvention till the student is studying in the institution,” the source said.
There are 10, 500 under-graduate students in 23 IITs. According to sources, 301 of the 860 BTech students at IIT Delhi were not paying any fees as they either belonged to SC/ST category or had been given a waiver on economic grounds. Another 100 students have sought full waiver.
Similar waivers were sought at almost all the other institutes following which the IITs decided to verify the income status of these students.
The IITs receive government funding but it barely covers maintenance costs, sources said. The institutes depend on fees from students to upgrade labs, hostels and other facilities.