Why An IIT Graduate Is Happy With The Fees Hike In The Institution

Why An IIT Graduate Is Happy With The Fees Hike In The InstitutionIIT Kharagpur/Wikipedia
Snapshot
    • The fee hike should not be turned into a sentimental issue in ignorance of facts and reason.
    • The fee hike will make IITs more financially autonomous, eliminate a needless subsidy, free up resources for more urgent needs and promote individual liberty.

The decision to hike fees at the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) has brought the ‘have-everything-free’ activists out of dormancy. All kinds of false alarms from death knell of public education” to “assault on India’s futurehave been raised, as activists invent threats existent and non-existent to derail the move.

It’s important that facts and reason are not sacrificed at the altars of emotion. Here’s why the move, contrary to the perception being fanned, is actually a brilliant one and can bring about profoundly positive changes:

Secure Independence And Autonomy

The excessive control of government over India’s educational institutes is a common lament. The lament is not without merit – governmental control ensures that institutes are driven by partisan political factors rather than by an abiding commitment to academic excellence. But at the root of this control lies the government’s control over the institutes’ purse strings.

Our universities have failed to be fiscally prudent and many live beyond their means, thereby becoming dependent on the government for funding the deficit. But no one gives money without conditions. It is therefore not a surprise that, bankrolled by the government, institutes fall in line with government diktats.

But the fee hike at IITs will change this trend. Now, IITs will be generating a lot more of their revenue by themselves and thus, their dependence on the government for finances will be significantly reduced. This will inevitably lead to them becoming more independent and autonomous.

Improve IITs’ Ability To Compete

The raise in fees couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. The Indian education system is about to witness unprecedented transformation. Growing investment by the private sector and the proposed entry of global stalwarts means that IITs can no longer take their dominance for granted.

IITs must now step up and invest on a large scale in order to beat the competition. The fee hike will provide them the extra resources needed to thrive in the higher education sector, where competition is increasing by the day and presumptions of the past can no longer be assumed to hold true.

More IIT Graduates Will Likely Take Up Engineering Professionally

Today, many enter IITs and engineering before deciding upon their career and profession. As a result, most IIT graduates don’t go on to use their engineering knowledge, despite the government having heavily invested in it.

Since education in IIT is heavily subsidised, students getting in don’t have much at stake as they shelve out little money. Hence, many have no qualms about wasting the scarce and prestigious seats which should ideally have been filled by only candidates who intend to be engineers.

But with the revised IIT fees better reflecting the cost incurred by the institute, candidates who don’t want to take up engineering as a profession will face greater odds against wasting seats. Now, it will make less sense to enter engineering only to become a painter or a politician, since one is paying a more significant amount as fees.

This will ensure that engineering seats are filled only by those who really want to be engineers. In addition, since those who have non-engineering interests will be less inclined to choose IITs as a default option, they can go into fields in which they are truly interested. This will also benefit humanities, law and other fields which are deprived of many bright minds who end up taking engineering as a default option, even though they are ill-fitted for it.

More Resources For Primary Education

India is a nation with scarce resources. We have to choose where to spend these resources based on intelligent prioritization. Money that is spent to subsidise the education of the to-be-elites in IITs could have gone instead into making rural primary education better, since many IIT graduates will be earning enough to pay back loans, even if they need to take loans in order to attend university. So when we reduce the IIT subsidy, we are in effect increasing the room for allocation on more urgent demands.

Leaves Funds For Research And Startups

The government, after having raised fees, can give a great boost to research, startups and other innovative activities for national development. If a loan waiver is given to those who take up these activities, students will have strong incentives to enter the field of research or establish startups. India could thus unleash creativity, innovation and enterprise among its youth.

More Freedom For Graduates To Follow Their Personal Ambition

As IIT fees are currently paid by taxpayers, it is only natural that society expects IIT graduates to devote themselves to national development causes such as research. This lends a colour of illegitimacy to any personal aim or ambition harboured by IIT graduates.

For example, while working in a well-paying multinational is a perfectly legitimate goal harboured by most people, the public scorns IIT graduates who indulge in it as this is seen as illegitimate use of education subsidised by the public. So with the IIT fees subsidy becoming negligible, this burden of expectation will reduce.

Why Should The Poor Subsidise The Rich?

The subsidy that funds the education of IIT graduates is obtained through government taxes. Indian taxes are largely obtained through indirect taxation (or taxes on consumption), whose burden is borne most by the poor. So why should the taxes obtained from the poor be used to subsidise the rich (IITians would be earning a six-figure salary when they have to repay their loan)? Why should those who have the resources to pay not pay?

To conclude, for the multiple reasons discussed above, the decision of the Human Resources Development (HRD) ministry to raise fees at IITs is a progressive and bold step which needs to be appreciated by one and all.

It’s an important step towards transforming our higher education by making IITs more financially autonomous, eliminating a needless subsidy, freeing resources for more urgent needs and promoting individual liberty. This decision thus lives up to the promise of change that Modi won 2014 with.

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