Some of India’s premier universities and technical institutes that can earn a new world-class institution tag will be free to fix their own fee, triggering fears of a fee hike.
Government education institutes can apply for the tag if they fulfil certain criteria such as a healthy faculty-student ratio and a top 25 position under the National Institution Ranking Framework (NIRF).
Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, the University of Hyderabad, and a number of Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have the required NIRF ranking.
The proposed criteria vary for private or deemed universities. But, even the 10 private universities selected as world-class institutions will have the freedom to determine student fee. These private universities will not get any government financial backing, though.
For their part, the private institutions should have a corpus of Rs 200 crore, a guaranteed pipeline for another Rs 500 crore, and a credible plan that additional resources are available on demand — not less than Rs 1,000 crore.
A government official tried to allay fears that the fee freedom could let institutes burden students with arbitrary hikes.
“A separate mechanism will have to be introduced so that the selected institutes would be able increase their fee structure independently. But it is not necessary that they increase the fee if they can get adequate funds through other mechanism,” the official said.
The government announced to set up 20 such institutions in the 2016-17 budget, reserving half of these for private institutes.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has placed a set of proposed regulations and guidelines for these institutions, which are up for public scrutiny and feedback till October 28.
Government institutions, the guidelines say, will have “the freedom to determine the domestic student fees” in compliance with rules of their professional regulatory councils, but no student can be sent away for failing to pay. Such students should be provided education loans or scholarships.
The institutions will be free to admit foreign students, but only 30% of the seats. They could be allowed to fix fee of foreign students without restrictions.
Other than rankings and good faculty strength to get the tag, both private and public institutes must have modern laboratories and a large campus with adequate space for expansion.