“This is nothing but loot,” cried students and their parents in chorus when confronted with the issue of astronomical fee structure in private engineering colleges in Nagpur as well as across the State of Maharashtra. Even if less number of students are enrolled the fees are being raised every year, exorbitantly. According to rules framed by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the fees recovered by these engineering colleges are to be spent proportionately. 70 percent on salaries of teaching as well as non-teaching staff but only 40 percent is spent by the ‘unscrupulous’ managements and thus being pocketing the remaining amount ‘shamelessly.’ In fact, this practice could be termed as a ‘master scam’ by the ‘white-collared’ education barons. That the scam is denting Government coffers in crores is another nasty angle to the loot. Remember, the government pays the fees of reserved category of students. If a high-level probe is initiated, many a white-collared ‘elements’ would be exposed in this ‘dirty money’ business.
Nagpur: The graph of commercialization of higher education climbing rapidly due to wrongful policies of the Government. Apart from the proverbial exceptions, majority of engineering colleges across the State since the past few years have been indulging in ‘dirty business’ of raising fee structure arbitrarily and monstrously as well.
By misleading the Government on facility front, majority of engineering colleges are increasing fees by 8 percent every year or sometimes in the middle of the year catching the students off guard. And the AICTE has been found a mute spectator and watching this “tamasha’ helplessly.
The State Government’s Technical Education Department is no different. Because of this fact the engineering colleges are not found wanting in hiking the fees outrageously even if the colleges are short of required facilities and adhering the rules and regulations. In fact the game of increasing the fees is being played in an organized manner.
This game is ostensibly turning the pockets of majority of managements fattier and thus putting them in win-win situation. If a serious probe is initiated into this ‘dirty game’ then expose of a multi-crore scam is a certainty.
Education Fee Committee is being blinded:
The ‘Education Fee Committee’ has been authorized to determine the fee structure in engineering colleges of the State. This committee has been set up in accordance with the directives of High Court. The private engineering colleges every year send proposals to AICTE. The proposals are sent online as well as offline.
The proposals contain an account of college expenses, amount of salaries paid to teaching and non-teaching staff etc. In accordance with the rate of increasing rising prices, the Fee Committee approves 8 percent hike in fees of engineering colleges every year. However, the Committee never puts the accounts and other aspects of these collects under its scrutiny on the pretext of short of staff.
Less number of students but still no loss in business:
The number of students being enrolled in engineering colleges is declining every year but the colleges are mushrooming by leaps and bounds. At present, 1.50 lakh seats are available in 315 engineering colleges. However, it is noted that the number of students is reaching even the figure of one lakh since the past 3-4 years.
But the shutters are not being downed of many colleges. Because, now-a-days, running of colleges is not at all a loss making proposition in true sense. According to rules, a 20 percent hike in salaries of teaching and non-teaching staff every year is mandatory. But is not done by majority of colleges, deliberately. It is done, no doubt, but on papers only. On the other hand, the ‘Eduaction Fee Committee’ accepts that salaries have been hiked.
The ‘hike in salaries’ also mean that expenses of colleges have increased. In this tricky situation, the colleges earn rights to increase the fees. In many colleges the salaries of teachers are drawn according the rules but for showoff purpose only. The teachers never get the salaries that are shown on papers. For the sake of saving their jobs the teachers as well as non-teaching staff rarely raise their voice. And the amounts of less paid salaries then directly go to the pockets of managements.
Stay on recovery of development charges:
The AICTE has stayed or curbed the recovery of development charges from the students in engineering colleges. However, even today, the colleges go recovering the development charges with impunity. Another angle of ‘loot’ is that many colleges enroll reserved class students from the very first year of admission without any fees.
This looks a very good gesture. But this is not the ‘social service’ at all. In fact it is a shrewd move on the part of cunning managements. The move is aimed at pocketing of funds received from Government and at the same time tricking the parents and blinding them to the reality. Actually, the reserved category students are paid scholarships by the Government. And this share of scholarships goes in the accounts of management. The colleges have already hiked the fees. The more the hike in the fees the more the contribution by the Government of same proportion. Lucrative deal, indeed.
In sum, majority of managements of engineering colleges have been found mopping up the moolah in crore the ‘rotten’ way and at the same time majority of the students have been left horrified by the baffling as well as rattling fee structure, some even terming it as extortion in exchange of a brighter future.
The bottom line is: The lessons we learn in schools/colleges are supposed to stay with us forever but what if the message links knowledge with the money you have in the bank; what if the lessons reek of discrimination instead of equal opportunity; what if the lessons learnt are all the wrong ones.