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College fee set to spiral if NKC rules

If the National Knowledge Commission (NKC) has its way, your college fee will soon become triple, reports Snehal Rebello.

india Updated: Jan 15, 2007 01:58 IST

If the National Knowledge Commission (NKC) has its way, your college fee will soon become triple.

The proposal will be put up in the 11th Five Year Plan to be presented before the Budget, said Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission.

“At present, the fee covers just five per cent of the total cost of education. We suggest that they cover 15-20 per cent of the cost. But with the increase in fee, we need more scholarships and student loans,” he said, adding, “With all this, education will be still be heavily subsidised.”

The commission’s recommendations have been forwarded to the Planning Commission, which is examining and assessing them.

Ahluwalia, chief guest at the 145th Annual Convocation of the University of Mumbai, said “reliance on fee” was needed. “Funding problems in the higher education system cannot be solved with private funds alone,” he said.

Academic Snehalata Deshmukh could not agree more. She said the fee for undergraduate courses were “less”, and “much less” for medical education in government colleges.

“Those who want to pursue higher education should be willing to pay for it,” she said. Just 10 per cent of Indian students get university education (5-6 per cent from rich families) in contrast to 20-25 per cent in developing countries.

“Not just quantity, quality is suffering too. And India needs to move quickly to remove deficiencies in the higher education system,” Ahluwalia said.

He said the primary and secondary education should be subsidised, but the subsidy in higher education would have to come down.

“About 75 per cent students spend heavily on recreation. So, a sensible fee structure with scholarships and loans is workable. University education will ensure good jobs and loans can then be repaid,” he said.

Accepting that fee hike was a sensitive issue, Ahluwalia appealed to graduates to take a “balanced” approach on it.

He said, “The fee today in real terms is lower than when I went to college.”

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First Published: Jan 15, 2007 01:58 IST