GENERAL CATEGORY STUDENTS of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are set to be under a debt burden from their first day in class. According to a new proposal, general category IIT graduates may soon have to pay back the money that the government incurs on their education as soon as they find a job after passing out.
The 15 premier engineering institutes and the human resource development ministry gave their “in principle” nod to the proposal, which has been touted as a workable alternative to hiking tuition fees of the IITs.
The reimbursed amount will go to the IIT from where a student graduates.
The step is believed to be in line with the government’s efforts to give more administrative and financial autonomy to the IITs.
The landmark decision, taken at Wednesday’s meeting of the IIT Council, the highest decision- making body of these institutes, will not apply to students from SC, ST and OBC (non-creamy layer) categories. Nor will it apply to those going in for higher studies at the IITs.
HRD minister Kapil Sibal said the idea of giving back to the institute was agreed upon during a discussion on the Kakodkar Committee recommendation which had proposed that the IITs increase their annual tuition fee four times from INR 50,000 each year to anything between INR 2 lakh to INR 2.5 lakh per annum.
“We have shot down that proposition as we do not want to burden the students’ families. Students will continue to pay INR 50,000 as their annual fee, but they will be expected to pay the difference between the tuition fee and the actual expenditure incurred by the institute once they start working,” he said. Sources said the payback proposal is “reasonable”. IIT graduates are in great demand and command high salaries.
Roughly half the students of an IIT are from the general category because 49.5 per cent of the seats are reserved. A rough estimate pegs the total expenditure on an IIT BTech graduate over four years at INR 6 lakh to INR 8 lakh. The student will not be liable to pay the difference between the tuition fee and the actual expenditure in case he studies further like pursue MTech, PhD and so on.
But the moment a student gets a job, irrespective of whether it is in the government or the private sector, the loan meter will start ticking. It was decided at the meeting that students will only need to return the amount in installments.
“A student who eventually becomes a researcher or joins an IIT as a faculty member will also be exempted as we want to encourage research and students to become teachers. In case the student remains unemployed, we won’t expect him to pay,” Sibal added. It is, anyway, rare for an IIT graduate to remain unemployed.
Even though the ministry and the IITs have agreed upon this proposal “in principle”, it can only be implemented if Sibal can get the finance ministry on board. Obviously then, as of now, there is no deadline for implementation of this decision.
Another hurdle would be to ensure that students do not shirk their responsibility of paying back. Sibal said the shift to “demat” degrees and certificates will take care of this problem.
Last year, the minister had announced the start of a process for the establishment of a national database of academic qualifications (degrees or certificates from school to graduate and postgraduate levels, including professional degrees), which will be created and maintained in a digital format by an identified, registered depository. For this purpose, the HRD ministry had constituted a task force under the supervision of IIT-Kanpur director Sanjay Dhande.
“The degree eventually goes to the employer. Once the demat system is in place, an IIT graduate’s degree will reflect the obligation to pay the institute back and the money will come via the employer,” said Sibal, adding that the details will be worked out in consultation with the IITs.
The IIT Council also agreed to replace the joint entrance examination (JEE) for admission to the IITs and other engineering tests with one omnibus entrance examination by 2013 as proposed by the high - powered committee headed by science and technology secretary T. Ramasami.
“A student’s Class XII board results will be taken into account at the time of admission. After the board exams, the candidate will appear for a SAT like test. On the basis of the two, an all - India merit list will be prepared. The exact weightage to be given to the board results and the entrance examination has not been decided yet,” the minister said.
Currently, there are 150 engineering entrance exams to choose from. The rationale behind the common entrance exam for engineering, often quoted by Sibal as “his dream”, is to reduce psychological and financial stress on students and give more importance to Class 12 results than private coaching.
The Ramasami committee has proposed six ways in which the admission of a candidate can be determined on the basis of board results and the entrance test score. Based on the feedback to the six methods at the council meeting, the final report will be prepared and submitted in a month’s time.
The IIT Council has decided to a set up a task force to look into the reasons for increasing suicides by IIT students and a separate task force for implementation of the recommendations of the Kakodkar committee for enhancing the autonomy of the IIT system to expand the research output at IITs. They aim to produce 10,000 PhD graduates annually from around 1,000 at present.
Article Source: MaiL Today