The battle between private educational institutions and the state seems to be reaching its end, as the most recent Supreme Court (SC) judgement might force private schools to give up the hope of increasing fees for students unilaterally. This decision compels schools to return to the fee rates set in January 2017, and its detailed arguments might force private schools to succumb to government pressure and follow the rules set by this decision.

Apart from striking down any increases since January 2017, the court also decided to adhere to the set cap of increasing fees by a maximum of five percent, but now with the added caveat that this increase must first be approved by a regulatory board – which will probably decide on a case-by-case basis.

What is notable here is that the Supreme Court has decided to uphold the changes made by the former Chief Justice, by reverting fees to the same levels as those in January 2017, the bench has thrown its weight behind the previous decision and established that no change in heart is expected.

Owners of private institutions will not be too pleased with the Supreme Court decision, and their logic is not completely unsound; private businesses generally do have the right to charge whatever price they see fit for their product. However, the Supreme Court has decided the case on the basis of a technicality which does indeed bound private educational institutions to the state; providing trade permits does entail that the state can control the way this trade is being carried out.

Whether the licensing principle is subject to limiting profits is an altogether different debate, however. At the end of the day, schools have reacted to previous judgements of the SC by strong-arming students and parents as a means of retribution. This time however, the state must be on guard before anything of the sort takes place once more. This conflict between the state and the education industry must not affect the students’ educational instruction.

Sadly though, given that the SC has taken away the profits of school owners without any means to replace them, it is highly unlikely that the quality of education being offered will not be affected. The two likely possibilities are that certain teachers might be considered surplus to requirements and certain amenities and services provided will no longer be available, the first of which will directly result in reducing the quality of education. The private education system in the country, regardless of all of its faults, has provided a level of education unmatched by its public counterparts. One can only hope that this judgement has not taken too much away from that.