A four-year bachelor of technology degree at a government-run Indian Institute of Technology campus costs Rs10 lakh ($13,000). At the private Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS Pilani), students can expect to shell out Rs12-13 lakhs (approximately $15,500-16,800) for a similar course. But one Indian college is offering a four-year B.Tech degree for a 100 times less.
At Jadavpur University, a four-year B.Tech course costs under Rs10,000 ($129). In fact, most of the school’s programs—not just B.Tech—cost this much or less. “It’s cheap. Very cheap,” the university’s official website’s FAQ section says.
The state-aided but autonomous university manages to keep fees low because it receives funding from multiple sources—the state government, the university grants commission, and the World Bank’s Technical Education Quality Improvement Project (TEQIP).
In contrast, at state-funded IITs, where students earn top-tier salaries after graduating, the institutes chose to increase fees over asking the government to shell out more money. Their hunch has been that relying more on the government could limit the growth of the IITs, or potential comprise their autonomy. Anyway, compared to the US or the UK, IIT fees are not steep at all even after several hikes. There are also total fee waivers for the differently abled, as well as those who come from less privileged caste or economic backgrounds.
Fortunately, the low cost doesn’t mean a low quality education. Jadavpur is ranked ninth in India for engineering, according to the government’s National Institutional Ranking Framework. The school was also the highest-ranked Indian university in a Stanford University database of scientists ranked by research publications last year, with 29 scientists featured.
Of course, the reliance on state funds can lead to volatility. JU was left in the lurch when the center held back funding last year, especially as there are few avenues for it to make up the money. Not just tuition, but even accommodation at the 67-year-old institute is dirt cheap. “The hostel fees is even cheaper than the amount some dharamshalas will cost you for one month stay,” Pankaj Chowdhury, a current B.Tech student at JU, wrote in a Quora discussion forum last year. It’s Rs25 ($0.30) with electricity and wifi. Moreover, fees for the mess, or canteen, and library are also nominal.