Maharashtra private colleges opt for no fee hike, FRA seeks balance sheets
1,024 out of the registered 2,371 private unaided professional institutes in Maharashtra selected the no-upward-revision option earlier this year
After at least 280 private unaided professional colleges in Maharashtra submitted a proposal not to hike fees for the second consecutive year, the state Fee Regulating Authority (FRA) has asked them to submit their balance sheets along with fresh fee proposals for a final determination before September 30.
An FRA official suggested that the colleges were trying to avoid submitting their balance sheets for scrutiny of expenses by opting for the no-revision-of-fees option, which doesn’t require submission of documents justifying a fee-hike. The official said the regulations don’t permit colleges to evade submission of documents such as balance sheets for two years in running even if they want to retain the old fee.
“Section 14(1) (b) of the Maharashtra Unaided Private Professional Educational Institutions (Regulation of Admissions and Fees) Act, 2015, mentions that such provision cannot be allowed and we have therefore asked colleges to submit fresh application in order to avoid a penalty,” the FRA official said.
He added that since these colleges were not applying for revision of fees, the clause which enforces old fee structure from previous academic year in colleges that fail to submit documents justifying a fee hike, didn’t apply to them.
“With no upward revision, this provision cannot be applied to institutes. Therefore, we have clarified our stand in the recent meeting that institutes will have to submit their proposal and FRA will decide whether they can continue with the same fee structure or not,” said the official.
As per FRA data, 1,024 out of the registered 2,371 private unaided professional institutes in the state selected the no-upward-revision option earlier this year, choosing to continue with the fees approved by FRA in the previous year.
Earlier this year, state minister for higher and technical education Uday Samant asked colleges not to charge miscellaneous fees such as for hostel/mess, laboratory, gymkhana, newsletter from students since these facilities were not being extended to students as college campuses were not in use for several months due to the Covid pandemic.
“The fact that they incurred less expenditure last year will reflect in their balance sheets that they have to submit along with their proposal. This will lead to reduction in the fees for the upcoming academic year which many colleges are trying to avoid. Colleges want to continue with the same fees they charged in 2019-20 to avoid a reduction. This will not be entertained,” the official said.
This decision, however, has not gone down well with colleges. The director of a private medical college in Pune told HT that even though classes were not conducted in-person, online classes were conducted and the staff was paid in full.
“No staff was sacked nor was their salary deducted because not only were our staff conducting classes but were also running the college hospital for several hours at a stretch, fighting Covid-19. We also need to take into consideration the considerable expenditure institutes will incur in sanitising classes and hostels. The only way to meet expenditure is by charging appropriate fees,” said the director.