NEW DELHI: Coaching for admission to the IITs and other engineering colleges has acquired the status of a big industry in India. According to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the size of the industry is Rs 10,000 crore. ASSOCHAM’s conclusion is based on the assumption that six lakh students attend these classes every year and the average cost for each student is Rs 1.7 lakh, a spokesman for the industry body told TOI. The staggering sum of Rs 10,000 crore being netted every year by private academies who coach students for admission tests can fund 30 to 40 new IITs, ASSOCHAM said. Calling for deregulation of higher education, ASSOCHAM president Sajjan Jindal said the beneficiaries of the current system were those running big educational institutions and coaching centres. "The amount of money which goes to these institutions is enough to open 30 to 40 IITs with lots of seats that can ensure admission to average candidates," he said. Those familiar with the coaching industry pointed out that both figures number of students going to coaching classes and the average cost per student seem exaggerated. The average cost per student cited by ASSOCHAM is too high, they said, pointing out that the cost in smaller cities which have many successful coaching institutes is much lower. They also said the number of students attending coaching classes could be much less than six lakh. TOI had recently done a survey of the coaching classes at Kota, the hub of the III-JEE coaching industry, and arrived at a ballpark figure of Rs 550 crore for the size of the industry there. At least 50% of the students who appear in the entrance tests for admissions to IITs and other engineering colleges enrol with coaching centres to beat the cutthroat competition, ASSOCHAM said. The industry body also said that 80,000-90,000 students go abroad for higher studies, leading to a high foreign exchange outflow. "If quality institutions are provided, a large number of students will stay back and contribute to the nation," ASSOCHAM said. It said that more institutions of excellence should come up and suggested that private players and big industrial groups should be encouraged in higher education. According to ASSOCHAM, India has over 12 million students in higher education but fewer than 350,000 faculty members.