Education not business for profit, fees should be affordable: SC

Education is not a profit-making business and tuition fees will always be affordable, the Supreme Court has said while upholding the Andhra Pradesh High Court’s order quashing the state government’s decision to hike tuition fees in medical schools at Rs 24 lakh per annum.

A bench of Justices Shah and Sudhanshu Dhulia imposed a cost of Rs 5 lakh on the petitioner, Narayana Medical College and Andhra Pradesh to be deposited in the court registry within six weeks.

“Increasing the fee to Rs 24 lakh per annum i.e. seven times more than the earlier fixed fee was not at all justifiable. Education is not a profit making business. Tuition fee will always be affordable,” said the bank.

The apex court’s observation came while dismissing a plea filed by the university against an Andhra Pradesh High Court order quashing the government’s decision to hike tuition fees for MBBS students.

The high court had held that in view of the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh Admission and Fee Regulatory Committee (for professional courses offered in unaided private professional institutions) 2006, the fee cannot be enhanced/fixed without the recommendations/committee report. .

The apex court said that various factors such as the location of the professional institution, the nature of the professional course, the cost of the available infrastructure have to be considered by the Admission and Fees Regulatory Committee while determining or revising the fees of Enrolment.

He said that the university management cannot be allowed to retain the recovered/collected amount as per the illegal government order.

“In view of the above and for the reasons set out above, both the appeals stand dismissed and the same deserve to be dismissed and are accordingly dismissed, however, with costs which are quantified at Rs. 5 lakhs which are to be paid equally by the appellant and the appellant State of Andhra Pradesh shall be deposited in the Registry of this Court within six weeks,” the bench said.

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