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In Maharashtra: Professional course fees reduced by 20%

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Hindustan Times | Mar 25, 2017  | Musab Qazi |

Established in 2004, the FRA or Shulka Niyamat Samiti (earlier known as Shikshan Shulka Samiti), is responsible for regulating the fees for all the unaided private professional colleges in the state.

The state’s Fee Regulating Authority (FRA) has slashed the fee charged by colleges for professional courses, including medical, engineering, management, pharmacy, law and architecture, by an average of 20%. The move, which is a first, came after the regulator found that many colleges were showing a rise in their expenditure to extract more money from students. The authority has also decided to stop colleges from making any change in the fee structure in the second year of the courses. Established in 2004, the FRA or Shulka Niyamat Samiti (earlier known as Shikshan Shulka Samiti), is responsible for regulating the fees for all the unaided private professional colleges in the state. Every year, colleges submit proposals for change in their fee structure. It considers a number of indicators such as nature of the course, number of students, teaching and non-teaching staff, infrastructure and other facilities at the college before fixing the fee. “The colleges are generally allowed a 10% fee hike every year,” said Ravi Dahad, a member of FRA.  He added that for the first time, the authority has fixed the fee for this academic year. “The students are yet to know the exact fee for the course at the time of admission, because FRA will decide on the fee structure well after admissions. But we have now fixed the fees for the ongoing session as well as the upcoming year,” he said.

Dahad added that the students at most professional colleges in the state will now pay a fee that is substantially lesser when compared to 2015-16. “In normal courses, the colleges would have increased the fees by 20% but we have reduced it by 20% instead,” he said. While some colleges face as much as 50% fee reduction, others have been allowed to hike the fees.  While colleges said that they have not received any explanation from the regulator for the fee reduction, sources said that they colleges have been unfairly charging more from the students for non-existent expenditure. “We found many colleges illegally charging students for using the library, laboratories and for identity cards. Some have inflated their electricity bills, while others the number of staff members. In some cases, colleges showed fake admission reports of reserved category students to receive benefits from the government’s social justice departments,” said the source.   The decision has come as a relief to students and parents, who have been fighting against the high cost of education in professional colleges. “We had requested the FRA to reduce the fees in medical colleges as they were misusing the money. I am very happy about their decision,” said Sudha Shenoy, a parent.  However, colleges have criticised the move. “The authority hasn’t explained why it reduced the fees. The number of students have drastically reduced this year but the expenditure has not changed, as we can’t sack our existing staff. We have properly audited our accounts,” said Zaheer Kazi, president, Anjuman-i-Islam, which runs several professional institutes in the city and suburbs. –  Courtesy

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