Costly rollback

By: | Published: March 10, 2016 1:12 AM

The Delhi government’s decision to reverse college fee hike works against students’ interest

THE Delhi government’s decision to roll back fee hikes in the 106 privately-run colleges affiliated with the state-run Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University (GGSIPU) will ultimately hamper the interests of students. Although the hike, by an average of 24%, was opposed due to its scale—and also because of retrospective application of the hike in multiple-year courses—higher education in India is still overly subsidised and the situation needs to be corrected to improve teaching and infrastructure standards. A 2014 HSBC survey puts India as one of the least expensive destinations amongst 15 nations, with an average annual cost of education at $581, excluding living expenses. It has been felt for quite some time that fees at higher educational institutions should be made commensurate with the costs of running them.

The irony is the new fee structure for GGSIPU colleges was based on the recommendations of the State Fee Regulatory Committee for 2014-17, which had to be applicable for the entire duration of 4- and 5-year courses. Instead of rolling back, the state government would have done well by providing direct subsidies to the needy students. Not hiking fees even for those who can afford it in the name of helping the needy will force these colleges to continue with the same facilities. Unless educational institutions are allowed to charge cost-based fees, the standards will remain the way they are, and the last thing this kind of populism does is help students.

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