Recently, The Governor of Uttar Pradesh promulgated `Uttar Pradesh Self-Financed schools (fee fixation) Ordinance 2018. The government had to bring the ordinance as the state Legislature was not in session. Under the Ordinance, a fee regulatory committee will be formed in every division with special powers to resolve cases relating to fee hike. As per the ordinance private schools, including minority-run, which charge at least Rs 20,000 as the annual fee and hold classes from standard I to the secondary-level, will fall under its ambit. The objective of the Ordinance is to improve academic quality and provide relief to the parents of additional financial burden.
It applies to all self-financed Independent schools of Pre-primary ( Nursery & Kindergartens), Primary ( Classes 1st To 5th Class), Upper Primary (6th to 8th class), High School ( 9th & 10th class ) and intermediate ( 11th & 12th Class ). The said schools required granting of recognition/affiliation by boards and in which total possible fee is in excess of the prescribed fee. Provided that where such school operates on a standalone basis as a pre-primary school imparting education below the primary stage, it shall not come under the preview of this ordinance.
The boards are defined under clause (d) of section 2 of the ordinance.
A) Uttar Pradesh Basic Shiksha Parishad
B) Board of High School and Intermediate Education, Uttar Pradesh
C) Central Board of Secondary Education ( CBSE)
D) Indian Council of Secondary Education ( ICSE)
E) International Baccalaureate (IB)
F) International General Certificate of Secondary Education ( IGCGE)
G) It shall be applicable to Minority Institutions recognised by any of the board mentioned above and any Other Board notified by the Government from time to time.
The applicability of the ordinance is on the fee in which total payable possible fee of any student is more than Rs. 20,000/- (Rupees Twenty Thousand) per annum. The fee to be charged is classified in clause 3a of section 3 wherein, the school may fix any combination of one or all of the following fee components;
A) Prospectus & Registration Fee payable only at the time of registration by the student.
B) Admission fee payable only at the first time of new admission to the school.
C) Examination fee shall be payable for examination
D) Composite annual fee, a single head annual recurring fee payable each year, Further upon commencement of this ordinance, the schools can’t charge the fee under different heads and shall ensure from the current academic year specified commencement and end by the respective boards (I.e. 2018-19) to club all such heads into a single head recurring fee.
E) In addition to the possible fee components above, The option fee may be charged as classified in clause 3b of section 3 wherein, the schools may charge the fee for optional activities and facilities provided by the school including :
iii. Mess or dining
v. Any other similar activity.
F) The procedure for collecting fees in a school shall be open, transparent and accountable.
G) No capitation fee is to be charged.
H) Receipt shall be issued for every fee or charge levied on the student.
I) No student shall be compelled to purchase books, shoes, socks, and uniform etc. from a particular shop.
J) School dress shall not be changed within five consecutive academic years. In case of change, a proper justification and a prior approval of Divisional fee Regulatory committee required.
The security/ caution money can be received by the school with the following caps;
i. The amount under this head shall be a one-time fee at the time of the first admission.
ii. The amount shall not be more than fifty percent of the composite annual fee as defined in clause 3a of section 3.
iii. The said security shall be returned to the students on clearing all applicable dues at the time of leaving the school by the student with interest for the duration of the deposit with the school at a prevalent rate of SBI saving account.
iv. The due amount is to be refunded within 30 days from issuing the date of Transfer Certificate.
v. The due amount shall be paid through e payment into the student bank account.
The educational entity means any society registered under the Societies Registration Act , 1860, A public Trust or trusts created under the Indian Trust Act 1882 or companies registered under section 8 of the Companies Act 2013 ( earlier section 25 of the companies act 1956 ) or any other entity permitted by any of the Boards which operates , manages and maintains recognised schools in the state.
i) Every recognised school shall determine its fee structure under subsection (1) and (2) of section 4 which prescribes fixation of fee for different classes /grades /school levels commensurate to interalia
ii) Head of the school of every recognised school shall, before the commencement of each academic year, file with the appropriate authority and a full statement of the fees to be levied by such school during the ensuing academic year.
iii) Such school shall upload the statement of fee on its website sixty days prior to commencement of each academic year and also publish on Notice Board.
iv) In the present year such schools shall upload the statement of fee on its website within 30 days of the coming into force of this ordinance.
v) While publishing the statement of fees, the school shall also specify whether the fee payment is to be made in monthly or quarterly or half yearly modes. Provided that no school shall solely provide that the fee paid on annual basis.
vi) No school shall, except with the prior approval of the appropriate authority, charge during the academic year, any fees in excess of the fee intimated to the appropriate authority.
vii) At the time of admission irrespective of the grade/class in which a student is entering, the school shall provide to the guardian, the complete fee structure for all grade/class up to grade/class XII applicable to new students for that particular year.
viii) The fee structure for new students shall become the base for calculating subsequent annual permitted fee increase on compounding basis for each grade/class to determine the fee applicable to the students for future grade/class.
ix) In the case of implementation of the pay commission reports, levy of any new cess, the fee can be changed with proper justification with prior approval of DFRC up to the level of that cess/ pay commission implementation.
x) Disclosures to be made by the schools related to general information, admission policy, details of fee and fund structure for the previous year, current year and ensuing year, facilities , student –teacher ratio, qualifications of teachers, calendar of major events , teacher training & staff development etc. The said information shall remain in public domain for the entire academic year.
As per Sub section (1) of section 4, a recognised school may revise its fee annually for the existing students by itself for each grade /class/level of school equivalent to average percentage per capita increase of monthly salary of teaching staff of previous year provided fee increase shall not exceed latest available yearly percentage increase in consumer price index + 5% of the fee realised from the student.
For the current /first academic year i.e 2018-19, the computation of permitted fee increase shall be as follows.
As per Sub section (2) of section 4, a recognised school shall be free to determine its fee for the new students for any class /grade /level seeking fresh admissions in a particular academic year subject to guidelines , if any notified by the Government. Increase in fee for subsequent years for these students shall be in accordance with sub section (1).
A regulatory committee headed by a divisional commissioner with a five nominated members by him i.e A Chartered Accountant, An engineer from PWD not below the rank of SE as Ex Officio, A senior officer of state finance and accounts service as ex officio, A parent of parent teacher association, An eminent principal /manager/ administrator of the self-financed school and the divisional Joint Director of Education as Member Secretary Ex-officio.
The divisional fee regulatory committee shall have the following power to
i. Take decision on proposals received from the managing committee regarding the proposed fee increase beyond the permitted fee increase under sub section (1) of section 4.
ii. Hear complaint of a student or guardian or parent association whose complaint remains unheard by the Head of the School within fifteen days under this ordinance related to the subjects as given in the ordinance.
iii. For the purpose of making any inquiry under this ordinance , The DFRC shall have powers of the civil court and appellate court under the Code of Civil procedure 1908 while trying a suit in respect of the following matters namely ;
a) The summoning and enforcing the attendance of any witness and examining him on oath.
b) The discovery and production of any document.
c) Receiving the evidence on affidavits.
d)The issue of commission for the examination of the witness.
iv. The quorum of the meeting shall be fifty per cent of the members of its total strength of members and the chairman. No order shall be passed by the DFRC unless there is a quorum.
v. After being satisfied may dispose the complaint as follows.
a) In the case of contravention of the provisions of the ordinance for first time may impose financial punishment up to Rs One Lac with refund of excess fee levied from the student from the notified fee.
b) In the case of contravention of the provisions of the ordinance for a second time may impose financial punishment of Rs Five Lacs with a refund of excess fee levied from the student from the notified fee.
c) In the case of contravention of the provisions of the ordinance for third time may recommend withdrawal of recognition/affiliation to the concerned board in addition to the withdrawal of permission of development fund for a certain period as may be decided by it.
d) The aggrieved party of the decision may prefer appeal within 30 days to the appellate authority i.e. State Self Finance Independent School Appellate Authority referred to in section 9 of the ordinance.
(About the Author– Author was Member of ICAI- Capacity Building Committee 2010-11 and ICAI- Committee For Direct Taxes 2011-12 and can be reached at email firstname.lastname@example.org or on phone Phone: 0 1 2 1-2 6 6 1 9 4 6. Cell: 9 8 3 7 5 1 5 4 3 2 having office at 1 1 5, Chappel Street, Meerut Cantt, UP, INDIA)