The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) on Friday decided to increase the fee of M.Tech courses by up to 10 times to 2 lakh per year. The hike will be introduced in a staggered manner over a three-year period, starting from 2020 academic session.

In a first, the IIT Council, the apex body that met on Friday, also decided to introduce an evaluation system for faculty members to weed out non-performers. New faculty will be reviewed after five-and-a-half years, and poor performers may be asked to leave, the council and the ministry of human resource development said.

“Currently, IITs charge between 20,000 and 50,000 as annual M.Tech tuition fee. The cost of IIT education per year is around 7 lakh. 2 lakh will also be hugely subsidised,” said an IIT official, requesting anonymity.

Besides, the apex decision making body of the 23 IITs plans to stop the monthly stipend of 12,400 paid to all M.Tech students who secured admission through the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) exam. In 2019, around 9,280 out of the 12,000 first-year M.Tech students were admitted on the basis of their GATE results, said a second official, also requesting anonymity.

The IIT Council’s decision follows recommendations by an internal committee. “The council approved, in principle, recommendations of the three-member committee constituted for suggesting reforms in the M.Tech system. The committee has recommended uniform fee structure for the M.Tech programme in all IITs, and for charging the same fee for M.Tech, as in B.Tech programmes.” the HRD ministry said.

The committee made five key recommendations. One, to increase the M.Tech fees to 200,000 per year and give reprieve to needy students; two, the 12,400 monthly stipend should be discontinued; three, 50% of the fee hike could be disbursed among competent M.Tech students who would want to take up the role of teaching assistants; four, the top one percentile students could be offered a five-year fellowship if they pursue Ph.D from a top Indian institution; and five, a mechanism to encourage IITs to go for sponsored students from the industry to pursue M.Tech courses.

Another IIT official said, requesting anonymity, that increasing the fee will have two more benefits—more funds will help the IITs improve the education and research standards, while dissuading students who come via GATE from discontinuing the M.Tech course.

Several public sector undertakings hire M.Tech students before they even complete the first year of their course based on their GATE score. This leads to vacant seats at IITs.

“IIT-M.Tech seats should not become a place of time pass and risk mitigation for students. Only serious students should get subsidised IIT education. That’s why a fee hike is important,” he added.

IIT Ropar director S.K Das said the IIT Council believes a faculty evaluation system will help improve the quality of the IITs. “For five years or so, you are on a contract, after which your performance as an assistant professor will be reviewed. Good performers will be made permanent and IITs will have the option of letting go of non-performers. The accountability in early days of one’s academic career will enhance the teaching-research environment.”

IITs will also hire contract professors from abroad, he added.

The HRD ministry said that the review system will be done by an internal committee after three years and by an external committee after the fifth year.

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