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Panel rulings cause panic among students, managements Date extended

By K. Ramachandran

CHENNAI, JUNE 9. Two rulings by different committees over the last one week have caused panic among students, parents and unaided professional college managements.

On Tuesday, the permanent committee for conducting a common entrance examination (CET) for private professional educational institutions, headed by S.S. Subramani, stated all admissions under the management quota must be done only through a CET and under a single-window system based on merit. Any admission done otherwise or `de hors merit' was illegal, he said.

Today, the permanent committee for deciding fee in private colleges fixed a uniform structure for engineering colleges, starting this year — Rs.32,500 for non-accredited courses and Rs.40,000 for courses accredited by the National Board of Accreditation, an autonomous body under the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

Following the Subramani committee's ruling, thousands of students and their parents are distraught. For, they have paid the fees for either "booking seats" or securing admission under the management quota in the past few weeks, as their seniors did the previous years. Leading colleges reportedly called the newly-admitted students and returned the money. A few others promised to do so in the next few days. Yet another set of institutions maintained that it would watch the situation and wait for a consensus to emerge in the association of unaided colleges. Many have stopped admissions under the management quota for the present.

Students and parents thronged colleges where they had got a seat or have been promised one and sought clarifications. A college chairman in the nearby Tiruvallur district said the institution had stopped admissions and it would take a decision on returning the money in a few days.

A student, who secured a seat in computer sciences in a city college, wondered why such crucial decisions were taken in June. A city college dean also said the decision on management quota seats should have been taken in February or March, so that students and parents could decide their course of action. Many college chairmen, who did not want to be named, noted that even Anna University and government colleges had "sponsored candidates and VIP quotas". But now unaided institutions did not have a single seat under their discretionary quota.

Reaction to the fee structure announced by the Justice Raman committee was subdued, though the heads of individual colleges heads said that despite the small increase, it would be difficult to run the institutions and provide value-added services to students to make them competent for new-age jobs in knowledge-based industries.

Ramadoss flays fee hike

However, the Pattali Makkal Katchi leader, S. Ramadoss, criticised the fee increase (compared to last year). He said not a single institution folded up for lack of resources, while small institutions grew with the existing fee structure. There was no need for the proposed hike. The Supreme Court stated that education was a charitable venture. Even last year, students from the poorer sections could not enter unaided colleges due to the high fee structure.

The government should immediately constitute a new committee with "persons interested in social justice and social welfare" to come out with a revised fee structure which would help the poor and the disadvantaged, and help to avoid social tension, he said.

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