The majority of High School graduates opt for college to enhance their technical knowledge in the field they are interested in. It has become a mandatory step in one’s life now that at this point it has become a norm, characterizing a typical Indian way of building a career. Technical education is indeed a necessity to get a decent job and pay and most importantly to promote intelligence. For some youth, college is a dream. Should this dream be conveniently shattered due to a middle poor man’s economic inability? Or should a teenager or his family on the whole be made to pay a hefty amount that they can barely afford in order to gain access to the most aspired college education? We are going to see how the Indian government helps curbing the commercialisation of something as basic as education and ensure the fairness.
State intervention in fixing college fees:
T.M.A. Pai Foundation and Others Vs State of Karnataka & Others[i] pointed out the necessity of state intervention in college education. The court recognised the urgency of state action in regualltion of fee fixation as there was an alarming rate of exploitation by universities. After the judgment, the states constituted the necessary bodies to overlook the fees structures of every university. Now the states clearly have the power to fix a maximum fee amount that can be charged by colleges. For this purpose, every state has a Fee Fixation Committee under the UGC which also looks after the fee fixed by the Deemed Universities. Hence, no college in any state can fix it’s fees arbitrarily. A fee fixation committee consists of five members.
- A retired Chief Justice of High Court,
- A Chartered Accountant nominated by the retired Chief Justice,
- A representative of the concerned apex board (MCI, AICTE, BCI etc),
- The secretary of the state government in charge of the apex board,
- An independent person of good repute nominated by the committee.
Every university should submit it’s fees structure proposal before the committee. Such proposal will be scrutinised by the committee on the basis of whether it is a legitimate charge for the education and service provided by the university. Once it is ensured that there is no profiteering, the committee approves the fees structure. There should strictly be no charging above the approved fees.[ii]
When excess fees is charged:
The biggest threat for any college that is accused of charging excess fee is the withdrawal of it’s recognition by the concerned apex board of the profession.[iii] The University Grants Commission(UGC) is the central governing body of all higher education institutions in India. It overlooks the activities of all central universities, deemed universities, state universities and private universities on behalf of the government. Central governing councils of various departments such as the Bar Council of India, Medical Council of India, Council of Architecture etc, which govern respective fields also govern the education and promotion of it among students. Hence, they work with the UGC for regulation of professional education. Recognition of any college under a university that is recognised under the appropriate board is what gives a college the accredition to impart education in a concerned field. A college should compulsorily be in affiliation with a UGC recognised university which gives it the standard to deliver education. The said councils work with the UGC and gives it the necessary advices.
When a complaint has been made to UGC in the form of a letter or through online means, the commission has the duty to probe into the case. In case of not receiving any intimation about a case status, the complainant can file for an RTI report on that seeking the information about the complaint.
The All India Committee for Technical Education (AICTE) has the responsibility to curb the commercialisation of technical education in India. The accessibility to education should be made easier and the government body has taken various steps to alleviate the burden of fees too. This board has directed colleges to mandatorily post their fees structure in their website.[iv] Such colleges cannot charge more than what has been given in their website. This is to ensure transparency and violation of this rule may lead the college to pay a penalty amount which will be twice the amount of fees collected from the affected student. They will also be liable to refund the fee amount collected from the student.
When the institution that is charging fees is a recognised body under any of these bodies (UGC, AICTE etc), a complaint can be made to them directly. There is always a preferable alternative which is a state remedy. Every state has it’s higher education ministry and wherein people can make a seek redressal to this grievance by approaching them and making the necessary complaint.
Recently, the The Admission Overseeing Committee and the Fee Regulatory Committee with the Karnataka Examinations Authority has reached out to the public regarding this[v]. The committee encouraged the parents and students to approach them and submit a letter with the complaint to them after which the Committee will look into the problem. They take the problems to the court making it a state issue as the colleges that charge more fee breach the state set fee structure.[vi]
There is a Fee Regulatory Committee in Gujarat that set fees for colleges of Technical Education. Students or parents or anyone can approach the committee and blow the whistle when there is extra fees being charged by any college in Gujarat that comes under the Committee’s abidance.
Similarly Tamil Nadu Government has also warned the state colleges that severe action be taken on the occassion of receiving a compliant of charging excess fees. Excess fees they say, is when the colleges charge amount more than what has been fixed by the state under a council appointed for the purpose from time to time.
When a complaint is received regarding a malpractice the college is in a danger of losing it’s recognition by the concerned boards which will basically bring it down. So we know that the stakes are high for the colleges too.
In St. Stephen’s College v. University of Delhi[vii], it was contended that under Article 30(1) of the Indian Constitution, minorities have the right to establish educational institutions and administer it of their choice. The court held that it the powers conferred under that provision does not empower the minorities to violate any state prescribed regulation. Hence, the establishments of minorities can have their special powers but they should be consistent with the state laws.
Even after so many diligent measure taken by the UGC and the state governments, exorbitant amounts of fees are still being collected by so many colleges. One can easily witness this outside every counseling centre in India during the admission seasons. The steps taken for transparency of fees structures is rendered useless when colleges put a government approved fees structure in their website and very easily manipulate parents to pay extra amounts in the name of other charges.
Edited by Pragash Boopal
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
[i] AIR2003SC355, JT2002(9)SC1, (2002)8SCC481.
[ii] COMMENTARY ON CONSTITUTION OF COMMITTEES FOR ADMISSION AND FIXATION OF FEES, https://www.ccimindia.org/downloads/21%20to%2024%20Commentary%20on%20admission%20&%20fee%20Committees.pdf
[iii] PUBLIC NOTICE, Advt. No.AICTE/Legal/04(0 1)12007, https://www.aicte-india.org/downloads/Public%20Notice-refund%20of%20fees.PDF
[iv] All India Council for Technical Education (Grant of Approvals for the Technical Institutions) (1st Amendment) Regulations, 2017.
[v] If colleges charge more, just complain, Bangalore Mirror,
[vi] Karnataka: Extra Fees upto 2 lakh being charged by private medical colleges, https://education.medicaldialogues.in/karnataka-extra-fees-upto-2-lakh-being-charged-by-private-medical-colleges/
[vii] AIR1992SC1630, 1991(2)SCALE1217, (1992)1SCC558.