Govt’s hire-expat professor scheme a hit with varsities

  • Brajesh Kumar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 15, 2016 17:18 IST
A file photo of Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. (PTI photo)

IIT Jodhpur scholar Poonam Sharma often craved to meet international experts in nanomaterial synthesis after studying their research papers.

So, when Prof Timothy Fisher from Purdue University in the US, whose work in the field is well known, arrived at her institute under the HRD ministry’s Global Initiative for Academic Network (GIAN) programme on a week-long lecture tour, the chemistry PhD student was ecstatic.

Sharma says her interaction with Fisher broadened her horizons on the subject and she is excited about possible collaborations with the professor and his university.

Prof Fisher is among 300 foreign academicians hired under the GIAN initiative, which allows higher-education institutes such as the IITs, IIMs and central universities to bring them to their campuses with the government picking up the cost ranging from $8,000 to $12,000 for courses that last a week or two.

Judging by the response of students and institutes to GIAN, the programme that was launched in November has taken off well.

As many as 224 institutes expressed interest in inviting foreign teachers for short- term courses and of these 160 have already got the human resource development ministry’s consent.

Among these institutes, 19 are IITs, 25 NITs, six management schools, 57 universities and 48 AICTE colleges. “Every institute wants to bring the best faculty available in the field to interact with its students, but the cost of hiring them was a big stumbling block,” said IIT Kharagpur director Prof Partha Chakrabarti. “So, as soon as GIAN was launched, institutes such as IIT Mumbai, Mizoram University and Bhopal’s School of Planning and Architecture sought foreign faculties and the list will grow further.”

Scholars from premier international schools including MIT, Cambridge University, University of Leeds and Imperial College have been hired to teach Indian students, officials said. “In the programme at IIT-J, we held thirteen one-hour lectures, delivered by myself and several other esteemed colleagues, as well as a laboratory tutorial, an examination session, and many informal discussions with participants,” Prof Fisher said.

An expert panel of the ministry has approved 297 courses spread over 13 disciplines, including mathematical and computer sciences, mechanical sciences and infrastructure, humanities and liberal arts, architecture, law and social sciences.

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