Higher taxes will provide the funding needed to build classrooms and hire teachers but many public colleges, especially UGC colleges, admit they remain ill-prepared to handle the increased capacity expected in June.
This week, finance minister P. Chidambaram announced an increase on the education cess paid by tax-paying Indian citizens and companies from 2% to 3%. The additional money will go toward secondary education and to fund new reservations for other backward classes to enter higher education. Within three years, such lower classes must comprise 27% of the student body at institutions that receive government funding, without displacing anybody in the general population.
The elite IITs and IIMs have drawn-up plans for a gradual increase in seats and begun construction on new hostels. But others, such as those run by the UGC, have yet to decide when and how seats will be raised. UGC runs 18 universities in the country.
The commission’s domain includes institutions such as Jawaharalal Nehru University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Banaras Hindu University and Delhi University. Delhi University says it has received no directions from the UGC so far on seat increase. “We are running against time,” says Minoti Chatterjee, principal of Kamla Nehru College, an all-women college of Delhi University.
UGC chairman Sukhdev Thorat told Mint he plans to meet with the 18 universities to discuss budgets and seat increases. “We will decide how they will go ahead with the implementation,” said Thorat.
He said all the universities had submitted detailed reports of their infrastructure requirements for the new seats to the UGC. Institutes of higher learning have to begin adding new seats in the academic year which starts in June, to accomodate the new reservations law passed last year.
The Veerappa Moily committee, formed to settle strong student protests against the reservations, said reservations should not mean a decline in the number of seats for general students. The committee said this implies a 54% rise in student admissions at an estimated expenditure of Rs 16,563 crore over five years.
Colleges are thinking of setting-up satellite campuses, even as they worry about a shortage of teachers.
“This academic year will not be problem. But next year onwards will be tough,” says Prakash Apte, director of IIM, Bangalore. His school, which admits 240 students currently, will add 35-40 new seats from June. One IIM seat poses an annual recurring expenditure of Rs4 lakh, not counting capital costs of land and buildings.
IIM, Bangalore plans a 20% increase in student admissions in the next academic year. IIT-Chennai will also be negotiaing with the state government for land at the same time. Both institutes say that the bigger scramble will be for teachers. But IIM, Indore disagrees. The school, which is graduating its eighth batch of students this year, says recruiting teachers is a time-consuming job but it can be done.
The institute, which currently has a batch of 97 students, will begin construction this month on120 new hostel rooms for students, to be added over the next three years.