We often come across such news in our daily life, don’t we? Education builds the ‘tomorrow’. The foundation of education, by and large, is multiplicated by fees and emolument charged by the institutions. A signified and stated fee characterizes the reason and center of an instructive foundation. We have on plate several factors to determine the applied fees levied by a school, such as location, infrastructure, institution standard, expenditure on administration and maintenance, reasonable amount of salary incrementality of the professors, expenditure incursion on students etc. There are basically four types under which fees are charged, i.e. (a) Tuition (b) Development (c) Examination and (d) Other related aspects.
The Apex Court of India have minutely scrutinized the situation of fees charged by schools and colleges in the celebrated case of T.M.A Pai Foundation and Ors. V. State of Karnataka[i]. As of now, there isn’t any formulated enactment to regulate or control fees in private institutions. The Court had stringently asked each state government to constitute a Committee to settle the roof on the fee chargeable by a school and professional college, settle the fees once like clockwork or at such longer period, as it might think proper until such time that the National Fee Committee fixes such standards. The Court expressed “maximum autonomy has to be with the management with regard to administration, including the right of appointment, disciplinary powers, admission of students and the fees to be charged, but the administration, of all things considered, cannot charge such a fee, to the point that isn’t required for the satisfaction of question.”
Parenting bodies forwarding the ways to education
Education, being one of the cores of any country’s podium, requires certain set of standards to effectively effectuate the entire procedure. All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and University Grants Commission (UGC) are two parenting bodies guiding educational institutions with the requisite standards. AICTE, in its first fee committee meeting, laid down the standard & recommended maximum tuition and development fee per annum for full-time programmes by the national fee committee. Inclusive of the list is the criteria for setting a maximum limit for charging the fee and certain relaxation to certain classes of society with respect to the payment of fees (i.e. Fees Concession to socially and economically weaker section) after a consensual consultation with the Central Government. Procedure for approval of fees charged must be according to the prescribed guidelines and must be verified by AICTE or Ministry of Human Resource Development. Major violation of expected guidelines attracts penalties.
Illuminating remedies to rise against excessive fees
The question rises, here, is what can be done if the school overcharges or exceeds the stated limit in charging the fees? Extortion of exorbitant fees by the institutions must be curbed down. A National Policy must be welcomed with open arms to limit commercialisation of education and profiteering by the institutions.
States, on their personal capacity as well as following the paths of the Supreme Court’s judgment, must promulgate educational policies to ensure certainty in the fee structure. For instance, in consonance of the Constitution of India[ii], the Maharashtra Educational Institutions (regulations of fee) Act, 2011 was enacted. The enactment provides for regulation of collection of the fees by educational institutions in Maharashtra and the matters connected therewith. Section 3 of the Act calls for strict prohibition of collection of excess fees. Further, a Parent-Teacher Association[iii] and Executive Committee shall be formed. The involvement of the parents in the decision-making process can stage a perfect chance to present their views regarding the hike in fees. Proper representation ensures quality output. Furthermore, the government must look over the fees’ regulation in the government-aided school in guidance to its own laid down rules. Other States to go by the divine path are the Tamil Nadu Schools (Regulation of Collection of Fees) Act, 2009 and Rajasthan Schools (Regulation of Collection of Fees) Act, 2013.
The Central Government can constitute a review committee to hear matters of appeals and to oversee the management of records and accounts by educational institutions in cases of duplexity. There needs to be adherence to par level while instituting fee structure for all schools at the same footing. Any arbitrary decision to hike in fees must be questioned. Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution gives on platter a basic ideal for occupation with no absolutism. The state under Article 19(6) can make “any law forcing, in light of a legitimate concern for the overall population, sensible confinements on the activity of the privilege gave.” There must be a fine connectivity between the levied fees and beneficent nature of conferring instructions.
From a personal capacity, an individual need to be extensively aware of the rules and guidelines set forth by UGC in order to avoid injustice in availing the most important requisite in life and can approach for any complaint against the school. The judiciary of our country has a open door rule in appealing against excessive extortion of school fees or commercialising education for the kids, who would be making the future of tomorrow.
Today, there exists an inevitable cold war between government aided and private unaided schools to battle out the reason of increased costs. It is sufficiently reasonable to permit a sensible expense climb with the growth of demands. But an exorbitant and unexplained increase calls for a serious explanation in motion.
A student almost turns into a consumer when he commits himself to an educational institution and contracts to the administration for an endless supply of fees and composing examinations. He mushrooms under the shades of that roof. Extracting excessive fees from the consumer severely goes against the principles of Consumer Protection.
“The views of the authors are personal“
[i] T.M.A Pai Foundation and Ors. V. State of Karnataka, (2002) 8 SCC 481.
[ii] Art 348(3), The Constitution of India, 1950.
[iii] Section 4, Maharashtra Educational Institutions (Regulations of Fee) Act, 2011.