Are gov't & gov't aided colleges fleecing Tamil Nadu students?

Officials from the directorate of collegiate education said that they have taken action against colleges for which they have received complaints
What is happening?
What is happening? (Pic: EdexLive Desk)

When S Adhithyan enrolled in a BSc Mathematics programme at a government-aided college in 2019, he was told to pay a fee of Rs 61,000 for the three-year course by the management. His father is a daily wager and his mother took a loan from a self-help group to support his studies.

That is why, the family was slightly relieved when the physical classes were disrupted due to COVID-19 and the government announced that colleges should only collect 75% of the fees.

However, they were shocked when the college allegedly insisted he pay the full amount despite these directives. The management even silenced his questions by threatening to harm his academics.

Frustrated over this, Adhithyan consulted some of his seniors and discovered that the government-fixed fees for his course were less than Rs 5,000.

Upon graduating, Adhithyan filed a case against the institution seeking the college to return the excess fees.

Adhithyan is one among many students who are robbed in daylight by some of the government-aided and government arts and science colleges in the state.

What is happening at these colleges?

In government-aided colleges, the government pays the salaries for teachers, non-teaching staff, and clerical staff, in addition to providing the land and initial infrastructure.

The government also released a fee structure for government and aided colleges in 1997. However, taking advantage of the lack of transparency in the fees fixed by the government, many government-aided colleges and a few government colleges charge exorbitant fees, said students.

“All government-aided colleges have two batches–morning batch students who were admitted in government quota and self-financing students in the evening batch. Even though the government-fixed fees are around Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 for the morning batch, aided colleges, especially those with ‘star status,’ overcharge the students by five to six times the actual amount without any repercussions,” said K Kathiravan, president of the Tamil Nadu Universities and Colleges SC/ST Teachers’ Association.

While the association welcomes the Tamil Puthalvan and Pudhumai Pen schemes under which the government gives Rs 1,000 to government school students pursuing higher education, they appeal to the government to monitor the fees collection as the students from underprivileged backgrounds are unable to study in these sought-after colleges despite having good marks, added Kathiravan.

Several teachers’ associations have been urging the Directorate of Collegiate Education to release the government-fixed fee structure on its website and to publish a white paper on the colleges that are overcharging students. They also want the government to stop funding colleges that defy the government order and suspend the principals of these institutions.

“There are 163 government-aided arts and science colleges in the state. Only 10% of the colleges adhere to the fee structure fixed by the government. For the past decade, we have been urging the government to establish a fee regulatory committee similar to the ones for engineering and medical colleges,” said J Gandhiraj, president of the Association of University Teachers.

Officials from the directorate of collegiate education said that they have taken action against colleges for which they have received complaints. When asked about appointing a fee regulatory committee, a top official said that the directorate would look into the demand and take necessary steps.

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