The Effects of Fee Hike on Students

India is renowned in the world for its diversity in terms of geography, culture, language and many such distinctions. One another category that can be added to this list is the massive number of colleges present in the country. But there still are many different types of higher educational institutions catering to the needs of art students, music students, doctors and engineers to name a few.

College is an educational period where one can assimilate and gain an unfathomable amount of knowledge. But in the recent times, the sacrosanctity of such institutions has been disturbed violently with the major culprit being the huge hike in the fees. Even the most coveted-institutions in the country, the IITs and NITs, have not been spared from this disease. The current HRD ministry’s impositions in this area have been met with a sharp response from the JEE aspirants.

Lots of coaching institutions denounced the exorbitant 122% fee hike of the IITs and the 78% fee hike in the NITs recently. There are about 130 private and public colleges apart from the 70 colleges recognized as institutes of national importance, as of 2012-2013 that excludes affiliated colleges. We can collectively agree that private institutions are financially able to set their fees, free from government intervention excluding emergency control measures. Consequently, the affluent and the upper middle-class families have little or no trouble affording the fee hike. Besides, these huge fees come with their benefits like luxurious accommodation and better infrastructure. Some of these institutes also have a provision for helping out the less-fortunate students financially by providing scholarships.

Then, the issue boils down to the effect of hike in fees on public institutions. The classes of students in the public institutions can be briefly divided into the reserved category and the general category. The former category has about 48% reservation in the IIT’s, and these numbers can vary in other institutions. This category of students has an advantage in terms of finances and can avail or automatically will be assigned a concerned scholarship to cover the costs. The system, in this case, has made it virtually impossible for a hike in the fee to disturb this category, or rather, was designed to do so. The latter; however, will have to face the brunt of this increase. The lower middle-class families who lie on the borderline will be the drastically affected ones. They might have to put in extra hours of work to start building up more money to cover the fees, or even take large sums of money as loans from banks. The upper middle-class families will definitely be strained, but they have the capacity to smoothen out the wrinkles. Needless to say, the fortunate ones will be unaffected. Besides, they have a plethora of opportunities to study abroad in institutes with equally-demanding fees and the final decision rests with them.

While on the grounds of a medical student, the situation hasn’t been much dampened either. The instance of the government of Karnataka bowing down to the private sector’s demands to increase the number of government seats with an added 10% of extra fees shows us the relative volatility of the government institutions as well. It increases the uncertainty in the factors that contribute to the hike, but the underlying effects remain the same along with the categories mentioned above. The consolation here was the increase in the number of seats on one side, but as one medical aspirant put it, students will have a tough time ‘mobilizing funds’. 

The IIMs have been no exceptions either. 7 of the management institutes have had a fee hike of 25%. This side of the problem expresses the anguish of the students in producing extra money to cover their basic higher educational costs. But there is another side to this story too. Surprisingly, businesspeople and alumni, especially some of those who graduated from the hallowed fields of IIT and IIM, have something different to say. They believe the fee hike is a good omen and a great chance to revamp the education system. One strong believer of the “Make in India” mission, Mr.Sandeep Sharma, IIT Delhi and IIM Bangalore Alumnus and founder of Yepme.com, stresses that these fee hikes are a necessary part of making these institutions financially self-sustainable and less dependent on the government. He believes that these institutions should use these additional funds to improve their existing architecture and R&D facilities, and attract talent for faculty expansion. Another voice in this group, Mr.Saugata Gupta, IIT Kharagpur and IIM Bangalore Alumnus and CEO of Marico, feels that “the most imperative thing for these institutions is to raise the bar and retain their cutting-edge technology in churning out talented techies and managers.”

While no side has a clear winner yet, the debate still rages on the impact of such decisions on the lives of students. It must be kept in mind that the arguments supporting the hike, favor the increase in the quality of education, but all this effort will be for naught if students ultimately cannot afford this education. There should be a provision for relaxing the terms of such hikes in the case of meritorious students of our country who cannot afford fees. But it can definitely be said that an increase in the fees in any college around the country will leave a sour taste in every student’s mouth, whatever be the consequences.

It’s not only the colleges who have witnessed a fee hike. Even private schools have experienced the same phenomenon. Read about it here.

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