How Offshore Campuses Can Help IITs Rank Higher

In their efforts to formalize plans for setting up offshore campuses abroad, the IITs have sought to establish a roadmap for the future and work out the feasibility options. “IIT Madras is in talks with multiple countries including Tanzania and some other African countries to establish offshore campuses. Some of the models and proposals discussed include country-specific courses, which may be of local interest,” said a spokesman for IIT Madras.

He continues and explains: “Mining related courses are in demand in the African countries. In Nepal, courses on energy systems are in demand while courses in data sciences are in demand everywhere. The institute arrives at various models based on feasibility and employment opportunities in the host countries. IIT Madras and other IITs, along with the Ministry of Education, Government of India, are looking at which courses can be offered, although a final decision is still some time away.”

A draft report is being prepared by a 16-member committee headed by the IIT Council Standing Committee Chairman, Dr. K Radhakrishnan, who will provide the blueprint for the expansion plans and the establishment of satellite campuses. The Directors of seven IITs – Mumbai, Delhi, Kharagpur, Madras, Kanpur, Guwahati and Dhanbad – and the Vice Chancellors of Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Banaras Hindu University, University of Hyderabad, and the Director of the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, are among the members of the committee.

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In December 2020, a letter from IIT Delhi was issued to the Ministry of Education requesting a permit to open a campus in Saudi Arabia. “The idea was to start a 4-year BS program in computer science, artificial intelligence and bioinformatics for which admissions could be based on an SAT-like eligibility criteria,” said IIT Delhi, former director and Pillay Chair Professor in EE , V Ramgopal Rao. He explains that BTech as a degree has a direct relationship with JEE Advanced, so it would have been too heavy for the international students as an admission criterion. “It was about giving the BS program its own identity,” he adds.

“The aim of the initiative was to enable foreign students to spend a year of their education in the IIT Delhi campus, which would help the institute gain foreign income and achieve greater cultural and social diversity. In addition, international student cohorts on campus would increase student numbers, increasing both revenue and rankings. While the ministry said the letter had been sent to the Justice Department to look into the possibility of further implementation, a committee has now been formed to look into the various modalities,” Rao added.

Last year, the Center had issued guidelines to allow leading institutions to open foreign campuses after obtaining the nod and no-objection certificates from the Ministry of Education of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of the Interior. This was in line with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, it was said.

Under the current scenario, a senior spokesperson for IIT Delhi says on the condition of anonymity: “A combination of both undergraduate and postgraduate programs is being considered, although IIT Delhi would focus more on offering undergraduate Engineering programs in four streams. Although the ministry has given the green signal to the IITs to make their foreign forays, setting up a campus in a new ecosystem is challenging due to the different regulatory environment – ​​not too many universities succeed with their satellite campuses abroad. also depends on the diplomatic ties between the countries that continue to change over time.”

The spokesperson further said that the IITs will offer a strong research component and PhD programs to attract foreign teachers to these campuses. “The IITs would seek their options individually and not work together to realize their global ambitions,” he adds.

BJ Rao, Vice Chancellor of the University of Hyderabad, who is part of the 16-member committee, informs: “The countries where the campuses would be set up indicated their requirements, after which the partner institutes were identified through mutual advice. These institutes – which are usually the IITs in the first round of implementation – would work out the financial details of the model and the recipient country will bear the expenses.”

The campuses, he claims, will be set up in a few months to a year at most, with the faculty pool coming largely from the IITs. “India is a country with an abundance of talent, therefore such offshore opportunities will be reflective of its knowledge base. The universities are eligible for the second selection round,” he says.

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