IIT-like offshore campus plan picks up speed

At least two Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are planning campuses abroad — one each in the United Arab Emirates and Tanzania — under a framework drawn up by a Ministry of Education panel for publicly funded higher education institutions.

Similar plans by other institutes are at various stages of discussion, according to people familiar with the matter.

A 16-member panel led by IIT Council Standing Committee Chairman K Radhakrishnan recently submitted its report to the ministry. Last month, the ministry circulated a “concept note” on offshore campuses to all IIT directors as a guide to necessary actions. ET accessed the document under the Right to Information Act, 2005.

The panel has strongly advocated IIT-like, full-fledged offshore campuses with a 1:10 faculty-to-student ratio, a semester format with an India component, and multiple admissions channels – from Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) and Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT ) to – pronounced an offshore version of JEE – to serve the international and local student population in addition to the Indian diaspora.

The panel broadly identified four areas of interest – Computer Science and Engineering or IT; data science, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), robotics, electrics, electronics; and Mining, Metallurgy, Oil and Energy.

Funding and Brand

It has also recommended exempting teacher hiring from state service norms of lifetime employment contracts to allow hiring of top scientists for long-term contracts at competitive salaries.

The ministry’s concept note emphasized that overseas campuses must not be a financial burden on the Indian mentor institute and therefore a “significant investment” should come from the interested host country or the Indian government, alongside “decent tuition fees” and philanthropy funds.

It suggested that the supervising higher education institution should expect 10-15% of its total offshore campus spending as royalties.

The notice also stressed that while the offshore campus should be an independent entity, preserving the “Indian brand” is a top priority.

More than 20 leading institutes have been tentatively identified to open offshore campuses based on feedback from host countries and Indian institutes, the previously cited people said.

The Ministry of Education had set up a committee of seven IIT directors in December 2021, alongside the director of the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru and vice chancellors from the University of Delhi, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Banaras Hindu University and the University of Hyderabad. among other things, the development of a “structural draft for the opening of the campus abroad by universities”.

Institutional facility

According to the proposed plan, an institute can either set up an offshore campus in an interested country itself or do so with a group of higher education institutes in cooperation with a renowned host university abroad. Indian missions abroad and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will facilitate the process.

In addition to undergraduate and research programs, a new five-year interdisciplinary dual study program – such as a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering with a postgraduate degree in financial engineering – has been proposed.

The panel has also proposed bachelor’s and master’s degrees in science, basic or applied science, and humanities. Two- and three-year postgraduate programs in basic sciences, economics and humanities were also considered. The committee proposed changing the nomenclature of BTech and MTech engineering degrees to bachelor’s and master’s degrees in science, in line with global norms.

Admission & Faculty

The Radhakrishnan Committee has proposed multiple admission routes – from JEE to Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE), Joint Admission Test for MSc programs, SAT, Graduate Record Examinations and a possible off-campus version of JEE Main and Advanced in later years . Admission to PhD and post-doctoral courses will be a mix of written tests and interviews, as is the case at Indian higher education institutes, it said.

A minimum intake of 30-40 students per year for each undergraduate course and 15-20 for graduate courses has been suggested to ensure cost-effectiveness. According to the committee, the scholarship for doctoral students should be borne by the host country.

The panel has proposed an IIT-like semester system with a student contact component. For a four-year BS program, a student must spend six semesters, or 75% of the study period, on the offshore campus and the remaining two in India at Mentor Higher Education Institute, the concept note states.

While initially a 50:50 format will be acceptable, it is envisaged that the entire course will ultimately be completed on the offshore campus with an outreach programme, internship or semester exchange at the parent institute in India. A similar model shall be applied for MS students and PhD students.

A minimum of 20 faculty members per department was recommended to ensure academic impact. The eligibility criteria for faculty recruitment and the selection process are the same as IITs, NITs and other higher education institutions, including ongoing advertisements and a flexible cadre system of the IITs.

However, the panel has suggested that the employment framework needs to move away from the ‘public service’ format used in Indian institutes, and teacher recruitment should be shifted to long-term contracts with decent benefits and competitive salaries. It has also proposed faculty exchanges between the mentor and the offshore campus.

English is the proposed language of instruction, along with the use of AI/ML technology for instant translation of lectures into local languages ​​if required.

The panel has suggested that assessment be similar to that in mentoring institutes, but with sufficient freedom and flexibility in teaching and grading. The degree is conferred by the offshore campus.

A fully populated model campus was proposed, covering a minimum area of ​​150,000 square meters to support at least 1,500 students. Each offshore campus is to be governed by a senior board of governors who appoint the director, vice chancellor and president through a selection committee.

The Director and the Board of Governors have discretionary powers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.