(Photo courtesy : Ben Husmann)

Two MBA candidates were in for a rude shock when the Institute of Management Technology (IMT), Hyderabad refused to refund them the admission fee of Rs 50,000 (each), they had paid for a seat for the PGDM program for the academic year 2013-15. The institute’s concerned official cited AICTE norms which specified that an institute need not refund admission fee if its seats are not full-up, in the case of IMT Hyderabad, 240 seats. The official, apparently, added, that if at all there is a refund, it will happen only post June 15 (which is the first cut-off date for admission) and that too on a first come first serve basis.

View the refund policy of IMT Hyderabad here.

PaGaLGuY investigated on the AICTE norms that IMT Hyderabad was talking about and actually found a document that stated something as bizarre as the above. In fact, we found two documents – one, a 2007 policy (see here) which states that students will not be refunded the amount if the seats remain vacant while another policy in 2009 (view here) states that only Rs 1,000 will be deducted if a student withdraws admission. However, the more recent document does not say anything about ‘seats remaining unfilled.’

We checked with many AICTE officials on which of the policies is right and found AICTE officials confused. A senior Regional Director of AICTE at first said that the institute has to refund all the money (saving Rs 1,000) if the candidate withdraws admission. However, on showing him the 2007 document, the AICTE official changed his stand. “Yes, if the seats remain unfilled, an institute does have the right to retain the entire admission fee.”

We spoke to SS Mantha, AICTE chairman who was very certain that irrespective of whether the seats are filled or not, the institute has to refund the admission fee to a candidate withdrawing his admission from the institute. We sent copies of both, 2007 and the 2009 policy documents to Mr Mantha’s office but there has not been a revert (for more than a week) so we are assuming that the chairman is sticking to his original stand.

This means that even AICTE is not sure on what the real rule is. IMT Hyderabad is however, certain that it is totally complying with the nodal body. An admissions official from the institute said: “Our college secures a seat for the candidate and asks only Rs 50,000 for the same compared to the course fee of Rs 10.3 lakhs. If the seat goes vacant, we stand to lose that money. Hence, we do not refund the entire amount.”

Not many b-schools, however, follow IMT Hyderabad’s refund policy. SP Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR), Mumbai, for instance, is one institute which refunds the entire amount after deducting Rs 1,000. However, according to Parimal Merchant, director, Center for Family Managed Businesses, this facility is also misused by students. He said: “Students tend to withdraw admission a day before the cut-off day and this puts the college in an awkward situation. It becomes difficult for them to contact wait-listed candidates to fill the seats at the short notice and the seats stays vacant.”

It would be safe to assume that this situation would arise only in schools that have an issue filling up their seats – these could either be new institutes/branches or the one less hankered after. The top b-schools, which, sport long waiting lists never have an issue on this front.

For the two candidates who got in touch with PaGaLGuY, a clarification on the right policy is all that was needed. Unfortunately, with AICTE not too clear on what the real policy is, the once-IMT Hyderabad aspirants are exactly where they were when they started their hunt for a refund. We found candidates venting their anger on Facebook which can be viewed here.

Bizarre, we think, that AICTE is not sure of its norms, especially when they are in conflict of each other. We hope before some more candidates are caught in this annual bind of refund or no refund, AICTE comes strongly on one policy and one voice.

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