Faculty crunch: Mentoring comes at a cost for IIMs
Shortfall: Old IIMs mentoring new ones can be effective only if the problem of faculty crunch in the existing IIMs is addressededucation Updated: Jan 17, 2015 08:45 IST
The government’s plan to set up more Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) under the mentorship of the old ones is likely to aggravate the faculty crunch in the existing IIMs.
As a mentor institute, the faculty members from older IIMs are supposed to travel to the new IIMs, conduct classes there and fly back to their home institutes. Given the fact that these new IIMs start operating with no faculty members of their own, on an average the mentors need to share a minimum of 18 faculty members, depending on the number of courses in the first year. “Though we need to handhold the new IIMs for a brief tenure, the centre should address the faculty crunch that we are already facing, before they get more IIMs on board,” says Professor Rishikesha T Krishnan, director, IIM Indore. Each new IIM would be requiring about 12 faculty members to start with and about 20 in a year, he adds.
The mentor institutes are supposed to share faculty members with the new IIMs till the new ones are self-sufficient. Unfortunately, the prescribed ratio of 1:10 is not fulfilled by most of the older IIMs. For instance, IIM Indore, which had to mentor IIM Raipur and later IIM Udaipur, has 74 faculty members and 1,450 students on campus. Similarly, IIM Calcutta houses 90 faculty members and nearly 1,150 students; IIM Lucknow has about 1,200 students and 82 faculty members. IIMs Ahmedabad and Bangalore with 1,000 odd students and 107 and 101 full-time faculty members, respectively, and IIM Kozhikode, with 64 full- time faculty members and about 700 students, are doing slightly better.
This shortfall leaves no scope of interaction between the faculty and students beyond classrooms in both the mentor and mentee institutes. “The faculty members are not available when they are needed in mentoring institutes. In mentee institutes, too, students cannot reach out to the faculty members to seek guidance on projects and extracurricular competitions. Faculty should be able to guide students beyond the classrooms. Most IIMs launched in the second round are still dependent on mentors. In a way, the concept of a fully residential programme is been violated,” says an IIM source. With the HRD ministry’s proposition of setting up six more IIMs in Odisha, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, fighting faculty crunch could worsen, given the problems faced by existing IIMs in recruiting and retaining faculty. The IIMs in Rohtak, Ranchi, Raipur, Trichy, Kashipur and Udaipur set up during 2010-11 started without bare minimum facilities of a campus and faculty members and had to be dependent on older IIMs for support. After five years of existence, these IIMs have been able to recruit 30 faculty members each, on an average. IIM Kashipur and IIM Ranchi have less than 20 full-time faculty members. Retaining faculty members in Rohtak is a problem because of lack of proper schools and colleges available here, “therefore leaving no scope of settlement of faculty members with their families,” says Professor P Rameshan, director, IIM Rohtak. Faculty recruitment is an on-going process, but basic land and a director should be there before they start a new IIM. Recruiting a few faculty right at the beginning would be a boon, he adds.
“To attract good faculty, an institute should have the capability to offer good consultancy work for them, which we couldn’t, because of the locational disadvantage. Even paying the faculty members was a challenge. The board did not approve extra pay for conducting classes for the executive programmes. We got 50% of our faculty members from our mentor (IIM Calcutta) and the rest from other institutes,” says Professor MJ Xavier, former director, IIM Ranchi. Faculty members from mentor IIMs get Rs. 10,000 per hour for conducting classes at the IIMs, he added.
To add to this, travelling to any of these new IIMs is an ordeal. This does not only affect mobilisation of industry interaction for students, but is also a time-consuming task for faculty members who need to take classes in two different IIMs simultaneously. “The faculty members are overworked and left with no time for research and upgrading of their own knowledge. They still need to continue as the institute has agreed to mentor a new IIM,” says the IIM source. A considerable amount of the mentor institute’s allocated budget is also spent on travel and boarding of the visiting faculty members.“If they cannot sustain the existing IIMs, why do they have to get newer ones? On financial grounds, the ministry had promised an additional amount of more than Rs. 100 crore to a few newer IIMs, but with these new institutes opening it has to be seen if the money will come in,” says a highly-placed IIM source.
As per recent developments, IIM Bangalore is set to mentor the IIM to come up in Andhra Pradesh, IIM Calcutta will handhold IIM Odisha, IIM Indore will mentor IIM in Bihar, IIM Lucknow will look after the IIM in Himachal Pradesh, IIM Ahmedabad will take care of IIM in Maharashtra and IIM Kozhikode will be mentoring the IIM in Punjab. “We usually offer support from the admissions process to curriculum design to helping new IIMs set up systems in the first few years apart from, of course, having our faculty teach there too. It is expected of us as an older IIM and we are glad to do this,” says Professor Devanath Tirupati, dean-academic, IIM Bangalore. On similar lines, Prof Saibal Chattopadhyay, director, IIM Calcutta says, “Even our own resource might be a constraint but it is a national call and we will try to mentor them to the best of our ability.”
And, as per talks, the new IIMs coming up in these states are far from city limits with proposed cities including Sambalpur in Odisha, Bodh Gaya in Bihar, Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, Nagpur in Maharashtra, Amritsar in Punjab and Sirmaur in Himachal Pradesh. The issue of connectivity remains an issue. The locations however, are yet to be finalised.
Even our own resource might be a constraint but it is a national call and we will try to mentor the new iims to the best of our ability --- Professor Saibal Chattopadhyay, director, iim calcutta