M A I N   N E W S

IIMs to revert to old fee structure
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 29
The Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry and the six IIMs today arrived at a compromise formula over the fee structure in B-schools. Consequently, the Ministry withdrew the February order issued by the previous government asking the IIMs to reduce their fees.

As per the agreed formulation, the IIMs will revert to their old fee structure while providing need-based financial assistance to students who are unable to afford the fees.

The directors of the six IIMs conveyed their decision to HRD Minister Arjun Singh at a meeting here. It was endorsed by the Ministry. Today’s agreement put an end to the ongoing controversy, sparked off by former HRD Minister Murli Manohar Joshi’s unilateral move to slash the tuition fees charged by the IIMs.The B-schools saw this move as a threat to their autonomy.

Announcing the decision at his maiden Press conference today, Mr Arjun Singh maintained that though the fee structure would remain the same, poor students would not be deprived of quality education through the provision of scholarships.

The Minister stated that all those students whose family income is Rs 2 lakh and below will be eligible for financial assistance, which could amount to a full fee waiver. Apart from the tuition fee, the expenditure on hostels and mess charges can also be waived, the Ministry stated, adding that the institutes will also assist students in getting bank loans.

Mr Singh explained that the three IIMs at Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Bangalore will make provisions for these scholarships. The HRD will provide the necessary funds to the other three institutes at Lucknow,Indore and Kozhikode so as not to burden them.

Today’s consensus solution has struck a balance between the two extreme positions adopted, so far, by the IIMs and the HRD Ministry. By leaving it to the IIMs to decide on the fee structure, the new government has allowed them to retain their autonomy. At the same time, the IIMs have kept the government’s compulsions in view by making provisions for scholarships for needy students.

Although Mr Arjun Singh did not elaborate on his predecessor’s decision, the official Press release issued on the occasion did take a swipe at the previous government, suggesting that it had overturned or ignored an earlier Cabinet decision. “The decision of the Ministry was not consistent with the procedures or provisions of the government,” the release added.

It was pointed out that a 1994 Cabinet decision had granted autonomy to the IIMs which were vested with the authority to decide their fee structure. This decision, it was stated, continued to be in force and has not been revised. As such, this matter does not fall within the government’s jurisdiction. The release said their records also revealed that neither the Finance Ministry nor the HRD Ministry’s internal finance division were consulted before taking this decision.

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