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Modi govt said autonomy won’t lead to fee hike but is now pushing varsities to raise fees

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HRD ministry has warned central universities that if they don’t sign the MoU that calls for gradual annual increase in fees, they could lose grants.

New Delhi: The Modi government is pushing central universities to hike their fees annually after attempting to allay fears — earlier this year — that greater autonomy granted to these institutions would not result in unrestrained tuition fees.

In March, Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Prakash Javadekar had gone on record to state that the greater autonomy being granted to these central universities, such as the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and Delhi University, was not a step towards “privatisation” or fee hikes.

Now, however, the ministry is insistent that the central universities sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on managing finances, which urges these institutions to ensure a gradual annual increase in fees for various courses and facilities.

Also read: Forget funds crunch, half of India’s universities don’t even utilise 50% of their grants

While the ministry sent out the MoU last year, it has now warned the universities, which are yet to sign it, that they could lose out on their annual grants if they fail to do so.

The MoU has already been signed by many central universities such as JNU, Banaras Hindu University and Aligarh Muslim University, ThePrint has learnt. Delhi University, however, is resisting the move, citing financial reasons.

Other central universities have that have signed the MoU include the Vishwa Bharti University, Hyderabad Central University (HCU), Central University of Haryana and Himachal Central University.

Sources said that these universities have already set in motion the process to hike fees. There is speculation that JNU and HCU are contemplating a fee hike of 20 per cent every two years.

The HRD had set a deadline of June 2018 for these universities. Sources said that it held a review meeting Thursday.

The MoU calling for a fee hike

The MoU is a tripartite agreement between the ministry, the University Grants Commission and the central university concerned. It sets guidelines for the universities on how they should run in terms of generating finances, taking assistance from the government and the goals that they have to achieve.

Section 2.2 of the document contains the clause calling for the fee hike.

“The Central University shall endeavour ensure gradual annual increase in the user charges/fees charged by it for its various courses and facilities,” it reads.

The MoU also directs the universities to submit a report of their achievements every six months, based on which grants will be released to them. The universities have been told to list their goals, vision and how they plan to raise funds.

Also read: Delhi University braces for chaos ahead of Supreme Court ruling on UGC quota order

“The performance evaluation against these MoU parameters shall be carried out every six months and monitored by the Central University,” it reads. Grants to universities will be released on the basis of the performance report submitted by the university, it adds. 

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