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Opinion - Letters


IIMs and autonomy

Throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, the IIMs charged very reasonable tuition fees, and their dependence on Central and State Government funding was significantly greater.

It is true that the IIMs were encouraged by Government in the early 1990s to become self-sufficient. But instead of attracting more endowments from industry (which is the greatest beneficiary) and generating significantly greater resources through consultancy, research, and training programmes, the IIMs resorted to the easy option of enhancing the students' fees exponentially and accumulating huge, unspent reserves of Rs 85 crore in the process.

When I was a student of IIM-B in the early 1980s, the annual fees were just around Rs 3,000. The 50-fold increase in fees (to Rs 1,50,000 per year) over the last 20 years cannot be justified on any ground. Over the same period, the Consumer Price Index, for example, has increased by a factor of only 3.3 to 5. By this logic, for the same level of government assistance as in the early 1980s, the annual tuition fees of IIMs should be only around Rs 15,000.

In a country where almost 75 per cent of the population is below the World Bank-defined poverty line of per capita annual income of $365 ($1 per day) and where only 7 per cent of the population can afford a telephone, it is absurd to argue that no student has dropped out because the fees were not affordable or that easy availability of bank loans is a solution.

In theory, five-star hotels are equally accessible to all. But just as most people are deterred from staying in them notwithstanding the option to pay by credit card, most students from the poorer and lower middle classes are similarly deterred from even taking the IIM entrance examination because of the exorbitant fees, notwithstanding the availability of loans.

K. Ashok Vardhan Shetty

Salem

Letters to the editor and contributions can be sent by e-mail to: bleditor@thehindu.co.in

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