Two days after he assured the public that new rules would not cause hardship to students seeking admission to professional colleges, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Thursday refused to take a stand on the issue, much to the chagrin of the student community.
Addressing a press conference at his official residence 'Krishna', Siddaramaiah said he would convene a meeting on the issue on Friday.
Under the Karnataka Professional Educational Institutions (Regulation of Admission and Determination of Fee) Act, 2006, to be implemented next year, there will be no government quota seats with lower fees in unaided colleges.
"I will convene a meeting with the ministers concerned. The Act was promulgated during the joint rule of B S Yeddyurappa and H D Kumaraswamy, but they did not implement it. Now that we are considering its implementation, there seems to be unnecessary confusion regarding the matter,” Siddaramaiah said.
This comes just a day after Medical Education Minister Sharan Prakash R Patil addressed the press and sought to allay public fear on the implementation of the 2006 Act.
When asked about the unrest and disappointment among the student community, Siddaramaiah said: "I cannot say whether the decision is right or wrong."
The CM added that as per the 2006 Act, a Fee Fixation Committee headed by former High Court Justice Ajit J Gunjal has already been constituted and that a decision will be made only after the meeting. These views were echoed by Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy, who said that no decision with regard to the implementation of the Act was taken yet.
“The thought of withdrawing the implementation of the 2006 Act has not even crossed our minds. Till now, around 16,000 reservation students sought admissions. With the Act coming in, this number will double to almost 32,000,” said a top official from the higher education secretariat.
Visvesvaraya Technological University Vice-Chancellor H Maheshappa admitted that meritorious students may not be able to afford the fee fixed by some of the top engineering colleges. However, he rebutted the notion that there would be a reduction of seats for students. “Fees in the top 10 per cent of colleges will be hiked. I think the fee will be restricted to `50,000 in the remaining colleges. There will be no reduction of seats. Students will have all the seats in 11 government and 11 aided engineering colleges for themselves,” he said.
Word of Caution
Meanwhile, the Karnataka Unaided Professional Engineering Colleges’ Association has cautioned the state government that it would not sign the consensual agreement in the event of a decision to withdraw the Act.
“Is the government ready to pay us the exact cost per student that we incur? Signing the consensual agreement again is not in our interest. We need to run these colleges after all,” said M K Panduranga Setty, secretary, KUPECA.