The Ministry of Human Resource Development on Sunday said that the increased fee of Rs 2 lakh per year for MTech courses at the Indian Institutes of Technology will not be applicable for current students, PTI reported. The ministry said that the increase, applicable only to those taking fresh admissions, was intended to “discourage non-serious students”.

The institutes currently charge between Rs 20,000 to Rs 40,000 for MTech courses.

This fee increase for new students will be “gradual over a period of three years or more, as decided by the respective Board of Governors of IITs”, the statement said. “All concessions and scholarships for SC/ST/OBC [Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe/Other Backward Classes] and others will continue without change,” it said.

The ministry said “non-serious students” often end up leaving the course after a few months when they get jobs or want to prepare for competitive exams.

The IIT council, headed by HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal, had approved the plan on Friday to raise the fee structure of the Masters’ programme to the same level as the BTech course. The move followed a recommendation from a three-member panel on reformation of the postgraduate course at the IITs.

In its statement, the ministry also noted that the fee for the MTech courses in IITs had not been revised in a long time, but the cost per student had risen significantly. It also said that no student will be deprived from educational opportunities due to weak financial condition, adding that “needy students” will be provided monetary aid.

IIT Delhi Director V Ramgopal Rao on Sunday backed the decision to increase the fee for the course and described it as a “surgical strike” on those students who lose interest in pursuing the course, Hindustan Times reported. “Today, we have uninterested students studying in outdated programmes which are completely disconnected from the market demands,” he said. “We have gotten ourselves into the situation and obviously a surgical strike was needed.”

Rao said that taxpayers’ money could not be given to provide free education to the “uninterested students”. He added that the increase was justified as the institutes required money to pay off loans and provide quality education.

The MTech course in IITs had recorded a 50% dropout rate in the past few years as students treated the course as a “parking place” till they got jobs or got through a competitive exam, the director said. Speaking about loans taken by IIT-Delhi, he said that the institute had to repay Rs 580 crore in the next 10 years, adding that the way to recover the money would be through the fee revision.

Authorities at IIT Madras and IIT Hyderabad echoed similar views. IIT Hyderabad Director BS Murty said the reforms were required as not many MTech students get campus placements. He also said that a number of MTech seats remain vacant as students opt for jobs in the public sector, among other places.

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