India continues subsidising elite IT schools

Prices held low at schools that see 1.3m bid for 10,000 places - and prosperity - every year

India has decided to continue very generous subsidies of the nation's Institutes of Technology (IITs), elite IT training colleges intended to produce a stream of high-quality graduates who build the nation's information technology industries.

IITs are among the hardest tertiary education institutions to enter, anywhere in the world. About 1.3 million students sit exams to score a place in the 18 colleges, but only around 10,000 undergraduate positions are offered each year. Students currently pay INR90,000 (US$1350, £955) per year of tuition, a sum that's a stretch for many Indian families. It is, however, a a very, very good price for an education that is a virtual ticket to prosperity given the extremely competitive nature of the entrance exams and the fact that India's top-tier companies mine the IITs for talent.

India's government has recently debated raising the annual fee to INR300,000 or more, but has now decided that fees should rise no higher than INR200,000. That decision has come with a long list of caveats to waive or lower fees for students from very poor backgrounds.

India plans six new IITs, with four to open their doors this year. This year's intake has new rules to play by: would-be students are now granted seats in examinations on the basis of their 12th-year High School results, but those results no longer count towards assessment of places at IITs.

The decision to continue subsidising the institutes reflects India's ongoing ambitions to fuel growth and modernisation through its information technology industries, a policy at the heart of prime minister Narendra Modhi's economic development agenda. ®

 

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