Fresh fee hike on IIT task force table

New Delhi, Jan. 31: A task force on the IITs will meet on Saturday to discuss another fee hike to raise per-capita operational costs from students, weeks after the premier tech schools decided to raise undergraduate tuition fees by 80 per cent.

The panel comprising IIT Bombay chairman Anil Kakodkar, IIT Madras chairman M.M. Sharma, IIT Bombay director Devang Khakhar, IIT Guwahati director Gautam Barua and IIT Madras faculty Ashok Jhunjhunwala will also consider an alternative education loan scheme without involving banks. The aim is to ensure soft loans for needy students.

Earlier this month, the IIT Council, the apex body of the technology institutes, had accepted a recommendation to increase the yearly tuition fee for BTech students to Rs 90,000 from Rs 50,000 from the 2013 academic session. The 80 per cent hike still left 60 per cent of the operational cost uncovered.

A panel headed by Kakodkar had earlier put the operational cost for each student at Rs 2.25 lakh a year. It had suggested that the per-capita operational cost should be collected from each eligible student as part of efforts to augment revenue.

The task force, set up by the human resource development ministry to suggest ways to implement the report of a previous committee headed by Kakodkar on growth and greater autonomy, will meet at IIT Bombay.

A source said the plan was to revisit the revised fee structure and suggest a framework on how to raise the per-capita operational cost from eligible students.

The fee hike, if approved by the IIT council, will affect about 50 per cent of students. Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe students and those from the economically weaker sections who don't have to pay tuition fees now will continue to get the benefit.

"The ultimate objective is that the per-capita operational cost will be charged from eligible students. But it may be done over a period of time. The task force will suggest how to achieve it," a member of the panel said.

Sources said the task force would consider ways the IITs can raise revenue from activities like consultancy services, sponsored projects and contribution from former students.

But any proposal for a hike has to be approved by the IIT council, the member said.

On Saturday, the task force will consider an innovative loan scheme to support students who face difficulties in arranging funds. The panel is looking at a scheme under which each IIT will maintain separate funds to extend soft loans to students who have to repay the loan only after joining a job. PhD students may not have to pay back if they join the faculty or a national institution for research.

The interest rate will be much lower than the prime lending rate of commercial banks, which will not be involved in this scheme.

The task force will also discuss the existing process of appointing directors and chairpersons and suggest measures for greater involvement of the institutes in choosing candidates for top posts.

At present, the Union government has a greater role since it has the final say on such appointments.

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