Published: 30th September 2019
'MTech from an IIT was my dream. I'm not dreaming anymore': Students react to IIT MTech fee hike
The IIT Council has decided to hike the MTech fees in the institutes by 900 per cent. There are also plans to stop the stipend
Neha* had it all planned. A III year BTech student, she'd graduate from college in 2020. If all goes well, she'd crack GATE and join an IIT and do her MTech, which would be a stepping stone towards a PhD. But then, recently she'd come across a piece of news that said that MTech fees in IITs will be hiked by 900 per cent.
Unsurprisingly, this 20-year-old was quite furious. "Getting into an IIT was my dream. But now, I'm reconsidering it. I may not opt for an IIT MTech programme," she says. "This is not a solution to any issue. Hiking the fees would now force a lot of students like me to give up our dreams. Most of us non-IITians take education loans to pursue our bachelor's degree. This will force us to do the same for our Master's degrees too," she adds.
Currently, the MTech fee in an IIT is somewhere between Rs 20,000 and Rs 50,000 per semester. But currently, talks are going on to hike it to Rs 200,000 per year. All the GATE qualified MTech students also get a stipend of Rs 12,400 which may also be stopped from the next academic year. To this, Neha says, "People with financial issues join MTech in these institutes so that they can manage their studies without being dependent on their families. Also, these stipends are not freebies. These students are also made to work hard for it."
Neha also gives us a breakdown of the amount of money that an average GATE aspirant like her spends. "My fee is around Rs 10 Lakh for the entire course. On top of this, I spend around a lakh for my GATE coaching. But now, it looks like if I get into an IIT, I'll have to make my family spend another 5 lakh on my education. This is a big deal for a middle-class student like me," she says. "I know that my parents would not say no, in case I make it to the IIT, but I do not want to burden them anymore," she says.
Students who are in IIT are also of the same view. "Had they hiked the fee a few years back, I wouldn't have thought of writing GATE," says Gaurav*, an MTech student in IIT Kharagpur. "I come from a lower-middle-class family in Hyderabad and had no one to guide me about higher education. But somehow, I found my way to the IIT. I was able to survive here just because of the fee structure and the stipend," he says.
"Undoubtedly it is going to affect the poor students, especially the ones in rural areas. Most of them do not even have the proper guidance, they wouldn't even want to come to the IIT," he says. Gaurav tells us that his semester fee comes up to Rs 35,000, while he receives a monthly stipend of Rs 12,400, which hasn't been revised in five years. "The stipend was useful for students, especially the ones who come to pursue MTech after working for a couple of years. But now, most of them will be hesitant to pursue their MTech. This will adversely affect the research and in turn, the future of the country," he says.
Supporting the government's fee hike, the IIT Delhi Director Dr Ramgopal Rao had penned a social media post. In it, he argued that "All IITs allow a direct admission into PhD (with a high stipend and almost zero tuition fee) without MTech as a requirement, including the PMRF." To this, Gaurav says, "It is true that MTech is not a prerequisite for PhD. However, many times, while applying for teaching positions, appointments are based on the point system. Here, candidates who have done their MTechs have a better chance."
The students have also started a change.org petition addressed to the HRD Minister and the IIT Council, asking them to roll back the fee hike. The petition has more than 50,000 signatures.
*Names changed on request