In the last eight years, there has been a 293 per cent increase in the per-student expenditure incurred by the state in the ten engineering colleges run by it.
Last year, the government spent Rs 60,416 on each student. The cost per student in 2006 was Rs 15,364, according to the Directorate of Technical Education (DTE), which has factored in salaries for sanctioned posts, cost of equipment, number of branches and students in each college.
While students pay only Rs 18,090, the remaining cost is met by the state. Still, government officials fear that the Rs 60,416 figure could drive demands for even higher fee structures in private professional colleges.
The state government has been directed by the HC to fix fees in accordance with the controversial Karnataka Professional Educational Institutions (Regulation of Admission and Determination of Fee) Act, 2006. This means that a Fee Regulatory Committee would determine fees that will vary from one college to another irrespective of merit or reservation, based on factors such as location, nature of course, infrastructure, expenditure, required surplus for institutional growth and other factors.
The fee for 45 per cent government quota seats in private colleges last year was Rs 36,090 or 41,590.
But, students admitted through the the Consortium of Medical, Engineering and Dental Colleges of Karnataka (COMEDK) paid anywhere between Rs 1.10 lakh-Rs 1.37 lakh. Similarly, students admitted under the management quota paid Rs 75,000-Rs 4 lakh, making good the subsidy for government quota seats.
“I don’t agree to a hike in fees in top tier colleges which can cross-subsidise with fees collected under management quota. But this does not happen in 60 per cent of colleges where both management and government seats are not getting filled up,” said K R Venugopal, principal, University Visvesvaraya College of Engineering. More than 7,400 seats were surrendered to the government by various managements last year.
M K Panduranga Setty, secretary, Karnataka Unaided Private Engineering Colleges Association (KUPECA), outrightly rejected the projected cost-per-student. “Are you serious?” he asked. “Government colleges don’t have staff in full strength and some of them don’t have laboratories. The DTE figure is a lie.”
Contradicting Setty, former Davangere University Registrar D S Prakash said, “Teachers in private colleges are not paid well. At least in government colleges, we are paid in accordance with the 6th Pay Commission scale and allowances with arrears, which does not happen in all private colleges.”
Fee Regulatory Committee head Justice Ajit J Gunjal declined to comment on the issue. But if the panel has its way, then fees in some of the top colleges could go well beyond a lakh.
Former Visvesvaraya Technological University V-C K Balaveera Reddy urged the government to clarify its stand on fee fixation soon for the benefit of students. “What they should do is announce whether there would be uniform fee, or the existing structure. If colleges have Rs 2-3 lakh as fees, where will merit students go? There has to be negotiation for a percentage of free seats for merit and reservation students.”
Section 7(3) of the 2006 Act provides for cross-subsidisation of fees for reservation category students from the fees collected by NRI students.
Cost-per-Student in Govt Colleges
● Each engineering college with 4 courses with intake of 60 students.
● Total students - 960 (60 students x 4 courses x 4 semesters)
● Salary for sanctioned posts (62 teaching, 108 non-teaching) - Rs 5.5 crore
● Equipment for 4 courses (Rs 3 crore considered durable for 10 years) - Rs 30 lakh per year
● Total cost - Rs 5.80 crore/ 960 students - Rs 60,416.