The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) council, the top decision-making body for the premier technological institutes in the country, will take up a number of issues related to them in a meeting chaired by human resource development (HRD) minister Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday. Some of the key issues that will be taken up are:
Induction programme for freshers
Thousands of students who crack the prestigious Joint Entrance Examination after burning the midnight oil for months may soon get a chance to unwind before plunging back into academics.
The council will take up a proposal to introduce a three-week induction programme that will allow students to adapt to their new environment, take courses pertaining to languages and creative arts (for those who require it), and bond with classmates as well as faculty members. Normal classes will commence only after the induction course has ended.
National Aptitude Test (NAT)
The council will discuss introducing NAT to filter students for a single entrance test for admission to IITs, NITs and other engineering institutions. The council had shelved this proposal earlier when Smriti Irani was the HRD minister, as it was felt that it will have an adverse impact on the rural students. If NAT is approved it will replace JEE which is a national common entrance examination conducted to provide admissions to several engineering courses.
Under NAT, the focus will be to standardise the test so that it can’t be cracked by coaching institutes or “teaching shops” and learning by rote — which bring down the standard because such practices fail to teach analytical and logical skills needed for scientific research.
The proposed system will test the logical and analytical abilities of students rather than knowledge on subjects.
Prime Minister’s Fellowship
To promote research in engineering institutes, the government is likely to introduce a “Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship” for students passing out of IITs. This will be discussed in the meeting, too. As per the proposal, the fellowship will be awarded to 1,000 students from the next academic year. Also, BTech students in the IITs will register for PhD immediately on completion of the undergraduate course. “It has been suggested that BTech fourth-year course students shall be eligible for fellowships,” a source said. “The students would write the outline of the research project they wish to undertake and these would be evaluated by committees formed by IIT Board.”
Increasing intake in IITs through off-campus students
IITs may soon admit up to one lakh students by 2020. As per the proposal, 30,000 additional non-resident students will be allowed to study in these institutes in the next three years. Currently, students have to stay in IIT hostels. “For undergraduate, post-graduate and doctoral courses, IITs admit up-to 72,000 students. These students have to stay inside the hostels mandatorily,” a senior official said. “However, it is being considered that students, who will not stay in hostels, should be admitted to these institutes.”
The plan is to increase the number by 10,000 per year so that the number of IITians touches, 1 lakh by 2020.
Improving global ranking of IITs through project ‘Vishwajeet’
To improve the global rankings of IITs, the council will consider another proposal called Project Vishwajeet. Under this, seven IITs—Delhi, Bombay, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Madras, Roorkee and Guwahati—will be assisted in breaking into the top 100 universities in the global university ranking by 2018 and top 50 by 2020.
Filling up vacancies in IITs
A number of strategies will be discussed to fill up vacancies in the premier institutes. Right from campus recruitment of PhD students from IITs to recruitment of foreign faculty, everything will be taken up to improve the student-teacher ratio in the institutes. Approximately 35% posts are vacant in the institutes, affecting the quality of education.
Admission of International students in the IITs
To increase the number of international students in IITs, the council will take up the proposal to allow students from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Singapore, the UAE and Ethiopia to directly appear for the JEE (advanced) test, skipping the JEE (main) that Indian students have to take.