Subject: Fee Structure at I.I.Sc-Report of the Student Council, IISc, 
proposed changes in fee structure


This document is the official stance of the Student Council, IISc, on
the recommendations given in the report of the committee, set up by
the Director, to look into the fee structure. This document is a
consensus opinion based on feedback collected from a series of
meetings held in departments all over the campus, and finally
passed by a General Body Meeting. The Students' Council went through
the report of the fee committee and found that the recommendations were
highly illogical. 
We explain why the proposed increases in fees---tuition, hostel,
and the ad hoc 5\% increase in mess bills---
are completely unacceptable in the present circumstances. The General
Body also passed a resolution to press for {\bf total removal of tuition
fees} for all students who have completed their course work. 
In this introduction we make a few remarks on the official report: 

Not only did the official committee not include any students; it did not
take the trouble to find out student views on the issue, and did not even
consider the basic question of whether students, given the current
scholarship amounts and typical living expenses, can afford even the
current fees charged by the institute---leave alone the new rates proposed
by the committee. One basic question which the General Body did
not understand was why the students were not included in
the Committee in spite of the peace protest march.
The other sentiment that was expressed was
that if the fees were raised, we would either get third grade students
or no students at all. The students
strongly feel that the committee members haven't considered the
the future of the Institute at all.
Moreover, the students contribute a lot to the institute and feel
that they should be regarded as employees, rather than be charged
tuition fees.

The report cites three reasons  for increasing fees for students. We 
discuss these one by one.

 Increase in the cost of infrastructural facilities
provided to the students

 The students are not the only beneficiaries of the infrastructure of the
institute. On the other hand they are the most poorly paid of the academic
community. It seems unfair to charge these costs to students. It should be
noted that the CSIR students are eligible for an HRA of
Rs. 450/= per month. Therefore those students are paying
hostel fees of more than Rs 5000 per annum, {\em in addition to the
hostel fees at present}. Government law enables
all organisations to claim a depreciation of 33.33 \% every year
on the infrastructure's 
actual value. If that is the case, most of the infrastructure will be at a
value less than Rs. 100/=. Also it must be noted that the infrastructure
provided to the students is coming from the projects and the money
recovered from the funding agencies is more than enough to maintain them.
Even the Director agreed in front of the steering committee that the money
got from the MHRD is just enough for salaries and partially for
electricity and the library. 

Increase in Scholarships:
 This bizarre claim astonished most of the
students who saw the report. 
The research scholarships were last increased in 1994. Before that they
had been static for many years, while living costs had been going up and
the fees were abruptly increased by a massive amount (a more than fourfold
increase) in 1992. Therefore the 1994 increase in scholarship was long
overdue and merely alleviated the students' problems. That increase was of
the order of Rs 700 per month. Since then there has been no increase,
while mess bills have increased by Rs 250-300 per month and other living
costs by a similar amount. Thus the effect of that increase has by now
been nullified, and students are no better off now than they were in March
1994 before the increase.

 The mandate given by the MHRD that institutions like the IIT's
and IISc should progressively find additional avenues to augment their

The report does not claim that the MHRD insists on IISc
increasing its fees. The director and others in the administration have
admitted, several times, that the amount of resources that can be
collected through fees is an insignificant part of the institute's budget
(1.25\%). The proposed fees (and the existing fees, for
that matter) are, however, a far from insignificant part of a student's
budget: they presently average to around Rs 300 per month, and this will
be more than doubled by the recommendations of the committee. It will
encourage cash-strapped students to leave and discourage new applicants
from joining; the IITs are already experiencing the latter effect. The
institute should realize that this will do great harm in the long run,
particularly as the drop-out rates and the fall in number of applications
are already causing worry.

 The students felt that the committee
members were not interested or concerned about the future of the
Institute. The reason cited in the report clearly cites that MHRD
wants IISc to find additional resources. But the committee is
exploiting the same old resources, the students.
Besides this, it will be a failure on the
part of the Institute Administration if it is not able to project
the uniqueness of IISc to the MHRD and the other ways by which it can raise
resources. It should be clearly noted the IISc is the only place in
the country, 
where there are more than 700 Research students, thus depicting its
unique character. Professor Y.K. Alagh, in a 
interview to Business World (March 1997), has clearly stated that the
total allocation for Science and Technology has increased by Rs 300
crores. The ``rupee for rupee'' scheme, which was applicable to CSIR
labs until now, has been made permanent and
extended to IITs as well. Our Finance Minister in his budget speech
has said that even an MBA from Harvard is no patch on a scientist. A few
more budgets like the present one , and people might actually begin
to prefer white coats to pin-striped suits. 

The above references have been taken to indicate that the Government
has really pumped more resources into Science and Technology. On the
contrary the Institute claims that MHRD is pressurizing it.
It would be more effective to generate resources by actively seeking
more projects, with any necessary modifications of existing rules in
this regard.

Living expenses and the question of Affordability

Before proceeding with other arguments, we will try to enlighten the
Institute authorities about what present-day living expenses are like.

The biggest monthly expense is the mess bill, which now
averages Rs 1000 or more for vegetarians and Rs 1200 for
non-vegetarians. Other than that, the fees presently
charged by the institute average to around Rs 300 per
month. The following expenses are incurred by almost every

Coffee or tea (typically 2 or more per day): Rs 150-200 per

Snacks other than the mess food (a must especially
for late night workers): Rs 5 per day, or Rs 150 per month.

Necessities such as toilet items: Rs 100 per month
(at current rates of toothpaste, soap, etc., a reasonable

Laundry: We put it conservatively at Rs 100 per
month. It is at least Rs 50 per month if a student washes all of
his or her own clothes, that being the approximate price of
a large pack of washing powder; substantially more if the
student uses a commercial laundry.

Transport: Rs 100 per month (and probably much more, 
given the rates of public transport)

Photocopies: Rs 100 per month (difficult to quantify,
but probably typical, especially for course students)

Meals outside (a necessity considering the standards
of mess food and the fact that the mess is occasionally
closed for holidays): Rs 100-150 a month at least, assuming 2-4
meals outside the mess at inexpensive restaurants.

Entertainment: Though some faculty like to believe
that this is dispensable, no student can be expected to
spend every waking hour at work. Assuming two movies per
month, this works to Rs 50. Other forms of entertainment
(plays, concerts, \ldots) are even more expensive.

Travel home: For two way travel twice a year, at
current ticket rates and with other necessary expenses,
it costs around Rs 1600 per year.

  Thus in all, the average works to Rs. 12500 per year clearly
saying that the extra costs are to the tune of Rs 1000 per month
or more per
student. This does not take care of the majority of our students who
send money to their parents because they come from poor families.}

We haven't mentioned the biggest necessity of students,
books and stationery, because it is difficult to arrive at a monthly
figure for these; but the figures given above already total
to something close to or more than the scholarship amount.
Of course, some students will spend more on some of the
above items and less on others, but in an average sense
these figures may be taken to be typical. 

So even students with inexpensive habits currently live
close to the limits of their incomes---and we speak
from personal experience. The above leaves very little room
for occasional expenditures like books (which are very expensive
now, especially textbooks), clothes, etc. A 
student would have to live like a
hermit to save a significant amount of the scholarship.

All the students of the institute are graduates---indeed, apart from the
Integrated Ph.D. students and the remaining Integrated ME students,
all are either postgraduates or have undergraduate degrees in professional
courses. They could easily be earning outside, as many of their 
contemporaries would be doing. The institute should consider whether
a prospective student will be willing in such circumstances to pay large
amounts for a degree like an ME/MSc(engg)/Ph.D which adds little to his or
her market value. The difference between a U.G. and a P.G. is just
Rs. 1000. Ph.D. students are worse affected. Their market value
may actually come down because of their degree. Moreover, by the time they
finish their degrees the juniors would have climbed at the top in
industries because of their experience.
Very few Ph.D. students
get good jobs after getting their degree (Institute statistics show
that only 4 out of 64 Ph.D students registered for placement this year
have got jobs). Any 
increase in fees will discourage the few applicants the institute 
continues to get.

To make matters worse, the institute does not give contingency grants to
students. Even students who receive contingency grants from other sources
like CSIR cannot spend them on personal books, but only on books
and equipment intended for the laboratory. Any books therefore must be
bought with the scholarship money. This is in contrast to several other
research institutes which give contingency grants which may be used for
buying books (see below). At current book prices, the student will have
to stretch his or her budget to the limit to buy them.

And if that is not enough, the scholarship is stopped after five years,
though nearly all students in Ph.D programme take well over five years
to complete their thesis; so any small savings they may have been able to
make will be quickly wiped out. Also the students in MSc(engg) take more
than 2 years to complete their degree, with no scholarships after 2 years.
How are they expected to survive after that? 

 The above picture is painted using the present fee structure.
The report proposes to impose additional fees of roughly Rs 450 per month
on top of all this. The administration 
should not be puzzled that this 
has caused so much consternation among students.

{The IITs}

The institute argues that the IITs have raised their tuition fees and IISc
is under pressure to follow suit. They fail to consider the impact that
increased fees have had on the number of students (especially research
students) entering IIT. Consider IIT Kanpur, for instance: once a very
prestigious institute, where some of our own eminent faculty have spent
time. The research student strength in the physics department has dropped
from 45 a few years ago to 15 now. In the chemistry department the fall is
from 90 to 35.  Nearly all of these are from towns near Kanpur; the
admissions have ceased to have a national character.  Not one of the
graduating M.Sc.  students chooses to stay on for a Ph.D.  Last year many
departments could not offer admission to a single student.  The research
scene, in the words of students there, is ``dismal''.  And the major fee
increase is yet to come!  Their current fees are comparable to what has
been proposed by the committee here. 

Things are not very different in the other IITs. Reports of
admission numbers in various departments 
falling to zero, in the wake of fee increases,
have come from all of them.

Amazingly, when this is pointed out to some members of
the fee committee, they dismiss it as being ``for other reasons''. 
Apparently the belief is that the IITs are somehow inferior institutes,
and IISc, being such a prestigious place, can never find itself short
of talented students wanting to get in. This is a myth, and a dangerous one.

The IITs can survive, because of their large undergraduate
population. (Even that cannot be taken for granted: the number of
applicants for the JEE this year has decreased by 10\%.)
They can try to evolve into training grounds for undergraduates, at the
expense of their research programmes; they will not be the institutions
they once were but their existence won't be threatened. IISc is nothing 
without its research programme. It cannot survive as a glorified 
capitation-fee college.

The director said in a recent meeting with the SC steering committee that
IISc wants to ``build bridges'' with the IITs, and not increasing fees
here will cause ill-feeling among the IITs since they have already taken
such a decision. But we feel that if the IITs have made a mistake, we are
not bound to make the same mistake. We can look for other ways to build
bridges, such as collaborative research, exchange programmes, and so on.

{Other research institutes}

It has been mentioned above that students here can earn much greater
amounts in the open job market. But even for those students who want to do
research and are willing to sacrifice the corporate big bucks, other
institutes (which are not less prestigious than IISc) offer far more
financial remuneration to students, and this will certainly affect the
quality of students entering this place. We fully realize that these
institutes are better funded than IISc and have more money per square
metre. However, that will not be a consideration for applicants; incoming
students should not be expected to choose IISc on sympathy grounds.
However devoted to pure research a student may be, given a choice of
comparable institutes he or she will almost certainly opt for the one with
better pay. And the differences are startling. 

 Tata Institute of Fundamental Research}, Mumbai and centres elsewhere
in the country: 
Students here get as scholarship Rs 3700 per month before registering
for a Ph.D. at the University of Bombay, and Rs 4000 per month afterwards
(typically after 2 years). Before registering, there are no fees to pay.
After registering, they have to pay an one time fee of Rs 2400 
to Bombay University. In addition, they get annual contingency grants
from the Institute of Rs 7500, which can be used to pay these fees,
as well as for buying books (which they can keep) and travel expenses.
Hostel fees are Rs 100 a month but before comparing that with the
rates here the fee committee is advised to inspect those hostels.

Physical Research Laboratory}, Ahmedabad: 
The figures here are similar to those in TIFR, Mumbai.

Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics}, Pune:
Students receive Rs 2500 (JRF) or Rs 2800 (SRF) as scholarship,
pay no tuition or hostel fees, receive an HRA of Rs 450 pm if they
choose not to stay in the hostel, and receive an annual contingency
grant of Rs 10000.

 Institute for Mathematical Sciences}, Madras: \\ 
Students here receive Rs 3000 per month (JRF), or Rs 3500 (SRF),
plus HRA of Rs 450 which is deducted if they are staying in the hostel.
There are no fees. There is no contingency grant but papers, photocopies,
notebooks, laser printouts etc are all supplied free of charge. The
institute also sometimes gives travel allowances by AC II.

 Raman Research Institute}, Bangalore: \\
Students receive Rs 2500 p.m. (JRF) and Rs 2800 p.m. (SRF), as in
IISc, but pay no tuition fees, are charged a very nominal hostel fee of 
around Rs 20 per month, and receive annual book grants of Rs 3000.

 Indian Institutes of Management}, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Calcutta:\\
Although not science institutes, these institutes are constantly
being sought to be compared with IISc in the matter of fee structure.
Here is a comparison which we would like the Institute to observe:
Although they charge enormous fees for their PGP diploma programme
(equivalent to an MBA), they charge no fees for their fellow programme
(research) students. These students receive stipends of Rs 2500-3500 per
month depending on entry qualifications, and an additional
Rs 500 per month if married, as well as Rs 5000 per annum as contingency 

In the biological sciences, apart from TIFR, Bombay, and the TIFR centre on 
this very campus with scholarship figures similar to the Bombay institute,
the institute faces competition from the National Institute of Immunology,
the All India Institute of Medical Sciences,  and CSIR laboratories like
CDRI, Lucknow, NCL, Pune and IMTEC, Chandigarh which pay the same
scholarships as IISc, but charge low or no 
fees and give substantial contingency grants.

It is worth noting the National Centre for Biological Sciences
at TIFR's Bangalore centre is expanding in a very big way and,
considering the attractive scholarship and luxurious living
conditions that it provides, it would not be surprising if the
Institute's research program in biology is affected badly in the
very near future. A few years ago, the faculty members of the
TIFR and its associate research centres strongly argued for and
obtained a substantial increase in the quantum of the research
scholarship for its research scholars by writing individual
letters to their respective authorities candidly stating the
ground realities and how top class research cannot be possible
with meagre amounts as scholarship.

Recently, a proposal to increase the fees at AIIMS from Rs 400/=
per annum to Rs 4000/= per annum invited strong protests from
the student community which prompted the director of AIIMS to
withdraw the proposed increase.

 To compare this with IISc:} \\
A research scholar in a science department
of IISc receives Rs 2500/2800 per month, pays nearly Rs 3500 per
annum as fees (not counting the mess bills), receives no contingency
grant (for Institute scholarship holders) or is not allowed to spend the
contingency grant on personal books (for external agency scholarships),
and receives no other financial benefits. }

These gross differences are already having their effects in admissions.
The institute should look for ways to correct the matter; instead the fee
committee has suggested methods to make the gap far worse. If a student is
admitted into one of the other institutes named above, there is no reason
to consider joining this one. We have talked to a few students who chose to 
come to IISc despite being admitted at some of the other institutes 
mentioned above, because of their interest in particular areas of 
research which are better developed at IISc. The same students say they
would not join today if the proposed fees were in effect.

If a student fails to get in anywhere else except IISc he or she still
has a choice: take it or leave it; and many students will leave
it. The director was once quoted in a newspaper report as saying
that IISc is ``scraping the bottom of the barrel''; we will
cease to have even that luxury.

 Research students work for the Institute}

The essential point is that research students do a lot of real work for
the institute, in terms of building equipment, writing software, and of
course actually doing experiments. They are extremely underpaid for this
job. For the same amount of work (and not necessarily less rewarding 
intellectually) they could get several times the pay in the corporate 
sector. Despite this they are expected to pay tuition fees even 
after completing their coursework, which typically takes a year. It may be
argued that they continue to learn; but so does anyone in a typical
high-paying corporate job, indeed in any walk of life. It makes a lot of
sense to omit tuition fees altogether for research students, as other
institutes do. 

It is really a shame on the part of the institute administration that the
authorities have failed to project the Institute to the MHRD and the
penalty for that falls directly on the students. Why is it, in this
campus, that it is the students who are always taxed?

Other comments

The report makes some comments about increasing the earnings of
students through SAP. However, the SAP programme cannot be
a way to increase the earnings of {\em all}, or even a majority
of, the students. In the IITs,
they have B.Tech. courses spanning over 4 years. That means the PG students
have 34 courses offered per department per semester.
But this is not the case in IISc.
Moreover, time spent on SAP-related work is
time which could have otherwise been spent on research, and if
overused will prolong a student's stay on the campus.

Why has the committee not touched the fee structure for the GOI and Non
GOI organisations? No reasons are given for this.

The report suggests that 17\% of the
annual scholarships be recovered as tuition fees. It gives no
justification for this figure. The students strongly feel
that the committee has arrived at this percentage by first deciding
the amount of fees, and then working out what percentage of
the scholarship it is.

In summary, we are strongly opposed to the recommendations
of the fee committee's report, for the following reasons:

It fails to take into account the expenses incurred
by students and the question of whether they can afford
such an increase in fees.

THEY COMPLETE THEIR COURSE WORK. It is not fair or logical to charge tuition 
fees to research/course students who have completed their coursework.
Ideally they should be treated as employees and paid for
their work. We recommend at least that the tuition fees be
waived for these students. 

Many students in IISc come from a poor background. They
have rejected the lucrative offers of the industry and have joined
the institute because of their urge to do research. If the fees are
raised, the bright students will prefer to go to industry or other
institutes or even abroad rather than come here. The concept of
excellence, which prevails now, will be totally lost. 

The experiment of raising fees has already been tried
in the IITs, with disastrous consequences.

The research students in the institute already get
far worse remuneration in terms of contingency grants,
other allowances, and often even scholarships, compared to
students in other institutes who generally don't even pay
fees. This is already acting as a disincentive for students
to join IISc, and the situation should be improved, not
made worse.

We will come with several other recommendations to help
students increase their earnings as well as the ways and means to raise
the funding resources of the Institute if the administration approaches
the SC.

In conclusion, the students are clearly opposed to any fee
increase under the existing scholarship structure and urge the
Director to drop such an move.
In this we include possible increases in tuition fees, hostel
fees and surcharges on mess bills; though these may be distinct
issues from the Institute's point of view, to a student it is
all the same thing: money
gone from his or her meagre scholarship.

Students' Council