Friday, July 16, 2004

new official rescinds tuition cuts imposed on top indian business schools by previous government

By Shailaja Neelakantan
(This article appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education in July 2004).

India's new education minister has revoked a drastic tuition cut forced upon the country's six prestigious management institutes by the previous government.

The cuts had been widely protested, with opponents arguing that they would lead to a decline in academic quality due to a loss of revenue at the Indian Institutes of Management.

India elected a new government in June, and Arjun Singh, the new minister in charge of education, reassured academics that he had no intention of continuing the previous government's higher-education policies, which many critics considered intrusive and controversial. He also introduced a loan program for needy students at the institutes.

"If we had to cut fees, then our revenue would have been affected and in the process our dependence on government grants would have increased," said Bakul Dholakia, director of the IIM campus in Ahmedabad. That was clearly an indirect mechanism of establishing control over us."

The previous government had said that annual tuition and living costs at the institutes were "exorbitant," and ordered that annual tuition be reduced to $660, from $3,320. Institute administrators, students, alumni, and Indian businesses said the loss of that revenue would hurt the quality of instruction and facilities at the institutes.

The institutes are technically public institutions, but over the years they have developed into semiautonomous bodies administered by a board of governors.