Work on the third edition of the All India Council for Technical Education and Confederation of Indian Industry survey of industry-linked technical institutes has started. AICTE chairman
Dr SS Mantha
about the new changes
You have said that the biggest challenge before AICTE is to bring about transparency in the system. What steps have you taken to overcome the problem?
The biggest step towards transparency, which we have worked on, is to make all the processes online. Today we don’t have any paper-based link with institutes which come under our advisory or regulatory ambit. All institutes have a login ID and password which they use to file for their annual approvals, grants, extensions etc.
Equity and access to information is a great enabler in any sphere or environment. That is something which we have given to institutes through digitisation of records and procedures. There might be issues at times with the speed of connections or perhaps even difficulty, for a newcomer when he/she logs on to our portal, to find the information that one may be looking for, but that does not mean that information is not available. We just have to learn how to look for it. I am confident that the systems that we have put in place will be a source of inspiration for others, too, in the future.
You have also said that improvement in quality of institutes is important. What steps has AICTE taken for the same and what more needs to be done?
Quality improvement is a slow process. Change does not happen overnight and there is no singular step which leads to dramatic change. Just as a sculptor keeps hammering at his chisel, painstakingly and slowly, to give that perfect shape to the stone, similarly, we have to keep working with our chisels to improve the quality of our institutes.
It requires effort at every level – curriculum, pedagogy, infrastructure, instructional tools, laboratories… the list can be long and boring. Suffice it to say, quality has several aspects, if looked at from an institute’s perspective. Over the years, the steps that we have taken towards that end have largely focused on incentivising institutes to improve their curriculum, their linkages with industry and on creating entrepreneurial opportunities for the students. A lot needs to be done on the implementation side. We have several schemes to motivate all stakeholders to improve quality but unless there is a concerted push to make these paper tiger institutes turn into tigers, we will not be able to move much. The survey which we started working on with CII in 2012 is a significant step towards quality improvement in institutes.
What do you feel has been achieved through the surveys so far?
Just like in the field of taxation there is a direct tax and an indirect tax, similarly certain things have a direct benefit while others have an indirect impact. I would put the benefits from the survey in the second category. The institutes have begun to understand what linkages with industry actually mean. They now see that industry interaction is much more than placements and campus interviews. Because of the survey they have started understanding the importance of keeping records, of documenting their activities and thinking proactively about how they can engage with industry. The spirit of healthy competition and excitement to win awards which this survey has created has been its biggest achievement. The institutes, I believe have understood the importance of branding.
Our challenge is to get all the eligible institutes to participate in the survey without making it mandatory for them to do so. They should themselves see merit in undertaking this exercise without somebody having to shove it down their throats. The massive expansion of the scope of the survey this year will have its own kind of challenges too.
You are in the process of launching another survey. What’s new this time? What is the outcome you are hoping for?
The third edition of the AICTE-CII Survey of Industry-Linked Technical Institutes has already been launched. The online portal is now open for institutes to submit their applications. The new thing this time is that we have opened it for every kind of institute. There are separate categories of evaluation but no bar on which type of institute can participate. So, whether a university department, a private institute, a polytechnic or even an IIT or an NIT, they all can participate in the survey in their respective categories.
The eligiblity and evaluation criteria is the same for all, except of course, there are some differences in the way we look at diploma-granting and degree-granting institutes. We are hoping for a massive jump in the number of institutes which participate in the survey, including IITs, NITs, IISERs and university departments.
How can institutes align themselves with the needs of the industry? What role should the faculty play in working out the alignment? Which institute/faculty do you feel has been the most enthusiastic in promoting industry-academia ­linkages?
Institutes can align themselves with the needs of the industry simply by changing their attitude. They have to quicken their pace of response to requests that come from industry and start looking at interaction with industry as much as their own responsibility as they consider it of the other side. It is the faculty that has to drive this change.
How can such linkages add to India’s growth story and that of its states?
Such linkages can add to India’s growth story by vastly improving the quality of human resource, by reducing the time it takes for a pass out to become employable and by directly leading to increase in productivity.
Vision for the future?
Would like to see industries setting up good institutes and/or mentoring several of them so that the best practices improve quality in our institutions. Internships for students and faculty is another area where industries will have to proactively engage. Research, patents filed and IPR should be a direct outcome of industry needs rather than develop as a disconnect that now seems to be happening.
Learnings from the survey
The survey AICTE started working on with CII in 2012 is a significant step towards quality improvement in institutes
The institutes now see that industry interaction is much more than placements and campus interviews
Why we have profiled selected institutes
Readers going through this ­special supplement on ­industry-academia interactions will be reading the profiles of a few selected engineering and management institutes. The engineering institutes were awarded last year for doing excellent work in building ties with the industry. They were profiled in the AICTE-CII Survey of Industry-Linked Institutes 2013.What the ­survey focused on was how the ­institutes scored on certain parameters. These were:
Faculty: The number of ­faculty members who provided ­training/lectures to industry.
Those on boards of industry/advisory, academic councils etc
Placements: Number of ­companies with stream/­specialisation-specific job ­profile coming to campus and ­students offered jobs etc
Curriculum: Number of companies providing ­training/internships, number of ­industry visits for students, percentage of visiting faculty from industry and number of guest lectures/seminars
Research and ­consultation: Number of contractual research projects assigned to the institute, number of ­technology transfers, number of consultancy/advisory ­services provided to industry
Infrastructure: Number of centres/units/cells ­financially supported by industry, percentage of financial ­contribution by industry in the unit
Governance: Number of industry members on board of governors/advisory ­councils, percentage of industry ­members attending board of governors etadvisory councils