New Delhi/ Kolkata: Some members of Parliament (MPs) have challenged the recent fee hikes at Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), saying they should have at least waited for a report from the R.C. Bhargava-led committee that was asked to look into the fee structure among related issues.
Seems a valid point, except for one sticky issue.
It turns out that Bhargava, chairman of Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, is actually a member of the same board of governors of the IIM in Kolkata that decided to hike its fees in February from Rs4 lakh to Rs7 lakh for the coveted two-year postgraduate programme. And, as Bhargava sees it, “we would not have done it if it was not justified”.
Indeed, the IIM’s board met again this month to consider another fee hike, but this time said it is deferring the second-year fee hike announced earlier—while retaining the first- year fee increase to Rs3 lakh from Rs2 lakh—until Bhargava formally submits his report. Bhargava said he did not attend this meeting.
The Bhargava committee also includes Ajit Bala-krishnan, chief executive of rediff.com, who heads the board of governors at the same IIM.
In a written report presented to Parliament on Thursday, members questioned the recent fee hikes.
“The committee fails to understand why some IIMs went ahead with raising their fees without waiting for the Bhargava committee report,” said a report from the parliamentary standing committee on HRD.
Of the six IIMs, the IIM in Ahmedabad announced the biggest fee rise for the 2008-10 batch of students. It raised fees from an annual Rs2 lakh to Rs5.5 lakh in first year, and Rs6 lakh for the second year. IIM, Bangalore increased fees from an annual Rs2.5 lakh to Rs4 lakh for the first year, and Rs5 lakh for the second year.
The parliamentary panel, which wondered about the fee increase, has 31 members, including Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat and Congress party’s general secretary Rahul Gandhi. Karat said she was unaware of Bhargava’s board role. “All we are saying is that if a committee is going to give its report, why raise fees before its report?” she told Mint.
“The committee found that the terms of reference of the Bhargava committee includes inter alia to review the existing fee structure in IIMs, use of their corpus funds and the number of scholarships/freeships, etc.
“This committee appointed in October 2007 was supposed to submit its report within six months. It means that this committee must be about to give its report,” the parliamentary panel noted.
The IIMs have so far justified their fee hikes by saying the move was forced by a rise in student costs and the burden of higher faculty pay due to the Sixth Pay Commission, which is yet to come into effect.
Not everyone agrees. “I am not saying that the fee hike is unjustified. I am saying it is irresponsible,” Joy Mitra, dean of Faculty of Management Studies at Delhi university, told Mint in a recent interview.