Apart from deciding on student intake, IIT council—headed by HRD minister Prakash Javadekar— is also seeking a six-fold fee hike for the PG courses offered at the premier engineering institutes. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
Apart from deciding on student intake, IIT council—headed by HRD minister Prakash Javadekar— is also seeking a six-fold fee hike for the PG courses offered at the premier engineering institutes. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

HRD ministry softens stand on raising student intake at IITs

HRD ministry indicates it wouldn't push IITs to increase student intake to reach the one-lakh mark by 2019 as it believes quality is key at the premier engineering institute

New Delhi: The Union government has softened its stand and indicated it would not push the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) to increase their overall student capacity to 100,000 over the next two years.

Last year, the IIT council headed by the human resource development (HRD) minister had decided to increase the overall capacity of IITs from around 72,000 to 100,000 by 2019.

“The ministry told us it does not want to force us to reach the 1 lakh number in next two years. The ministry believes quality is key in IITs, and IITs should take their own pace to reach any number," said an IIT council member over phone after a meeting at IIT-Bombay on Friday.

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The person declined to be named, saying a formal announcement will soon be made by the HRD ministry.

Meanwhile, the IITs have agreed to increase the number of seats for women candidates by 20% at the B.Tech level over a period of five years. They will add 4% seats per year for women at the undergraduate level, the IIT council decided on Friday. Some of the IITs are expected to adopt the formula from this year.

The IIT council, headed by the HRD minister, comprises directors and chairmen of the 23 IITs and senior officials of the higher education department.

The person mentioned above said the clarification gives IITs the confidence that the government will not push them to enhance capacity when infrastructure—both physical and intellectual—is inadequate.

All IITs have agreed to increase their intake of female students, IIT-Bombay said separately.

The low female students ratio at IITs has been discussed for years. Currently, all IITs together have a little less than 9% female students at the undergraduate level.

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IITs admit around 10,000 students each year at the B. Tech level through a two-tier joint entrance examination system.

Though the plan to reach 100,000 student strength including undergraduate, post graduate and research by 2019 and the increase in female student intake are mutually exclusive, the IIT authorities said they are “complimentary to each other".

Meanwhile, the IIT council has deferred a proposal for a sixfold hike in course fee for post-graduate students. In their proposal, the IITs said though they spend about Rs10,400 per student per month or over Rs1.24 lakh per annum, they charge only Rs20,000 per annum from each student, as per the agenda document of the IIT council meeting.

IITs want student fee to be raised to reduce their financial burden at a time when the government is pushing for more revenue generation at the elite institutions.

With the number of post-graduate students increasing, the engineering schools feel it’s time to increase the fees to maintain quality and provide good facilities.

The HRD ministry has deferred another proposal from the IITs wherein they were demanding that the government should compensate them for the free or discounted education they provide to students from the socially and economically backward sections of society.

In April 2016, while allowing IITs to increase undergraduate fee to Rs2 lakh per annum, the government had convinced them to waive, in full, the annual fees for students from the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and differently-abled categories.

Besides, students from families with an annual income of less than Rs1 lakh are getting free under-graduate education and those belonging to families with annual income of less than Rs5 lakh are getting a waiver of 66% of the total fee.

“We will review the demands of IITs," HRD minister Prakash Javadekar said. For this year, though, there will be no change in the fee structure.

Javadekar, however, asked IITs to come up with a three-year action plan, seven-year strategic plan and a 15-year vision plan of their growth.

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