IITs propose threefold rise in fee, new aptitude test
They also suggested an aptitude test from next year, on the lines of SAT in America, to screen students before they take a single Joint Entrance Examination for admission to the IITs and the National Institutes of Technology (NITs).
It's up to human resource development minister Smriti Irani to take the final decision on either issue in her capacity as chairperson of the IIT Council, the apex decision-making body for these premier technology institutes.
The recommendations came from the IIT Council's standing committee, which met here under IIT Roorkee chairperson Ashok Misra and approved the fee increase.
The proposed hike is part of a larger plan, by the government and the tech schools themselves, to change the institutes' funding pattern and enable them to achieve financial autonomy.
Ministry sources said Irani might not take the decision immediately as five states and Union territories are to vote in Assembly elections in the next two months.
A standing committee member said that about 25 per cent students - including the 15 per cent Scheduled Caste, 7.5 per cent Scheduled Tribe and three per cent physically challenged students - would continue to be exempt from paying the tuition fee.
Interest-free education loans, available under the recently started Vidya Laxmi scheme, would take care of the concerns of the remaining 75 per cent, the member said.
"No deserving student would be denied an IIT education because of his economic condition," he added.
But an IIT director feared that the threefold hike would discourage impoverished students from even applying for seats in the premier institutes.
According to a report, 15 per cent of the 10,000 students admitted to the IITs every year come from families with a parental income below Rs 1 lakh.
"The poor are uncomfortable seeking loans. Nor is the banking system supportive of them - the banks want a lot of documents and a third-party guarantee," the director said, requesting anonymity.
Some of the directors may request the fee hike to be implemented in two or three phases.
The fee hike was discussed at the last IIT Council meeting, on October 6 last year. The council set up an expert committee to examine how it could be done. The panel was made up of the directors of the IITs in Mumbai, Chennai, Kanpur and Hyderabad and a senior official from Irani's ministry.
The expert committee suggested a new funding mechanism under which the government would outsource the responsibility of expanding infrastructure at the premier tech schools to a proposed Higher Education Financing Agency.
This year's Union budget said the agency would be set up as a not-for-profit organisation with a corpus of Rs 1,000 crore. It will leverage funds from the market and supplement them with private donations and corporate social responsibility contributions.
The money will go into infrastructure improvement at top central educational institutions like the IITs and the central universities. The institutions will receive low-interest funds from the agency that they will need to repay in five years, with the government paying the interest.
Each IIT will repay the agency with its own money that will be raised, as a first step, through the tuition fee hike.
The proposed aptitude test is to be conducted online twice a year from 2017. The top four lakh students are to be allowed to take a Joint Entrance Examination - a single entrance test similar to the current JEE Advanced - for filling seats in the IITs and the NITs. The JEE Main will be abolished.
The aptitude test will include questions on logical reasoning, graphic analysis, verbal reasoning and the like. Such tests aim at assessing a candidate's capacity for reasoning and out-of-the-box thinking. The JEE will have objective-type questions in physics, chemistry and mathematics and will be conducted by the IITs.
-The Telegraph Calcutta
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