The Birla Institute of Technology & Science (BITS), Pilani is an all-India institute for higher education. It is a dream come true of its founder, late GD Birla, an eminent industrialist, a participant in India’s freedom struggle and a close associate of the Father of the Nation, late Mahatma Gandhi. What started in the early 1900s as a small school, blossomed into a set of colleges for higher education, ranging from the humanities to engineering until 1964 when all these colleges amalgamated to form a unique Indian university of international standing. This university was named the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, known to many as BITS, Pilani. It is located in the Vidya Vihar campus adjacent to Pilani in Rajasthan.
Integrated first degree programmes
These degrees are offered at the first tier have nomenclature like BE (Hons.), BPharm (Hons.), Master of Management Studies, MSc (Hons), MSc (Tech), and MA (Hons). These are level wise equivalent degrees. These degrees are based on a modular structure and their academic requirements are spelt out in respect of the number of courses rather than the number of years. All these programmes are structured in such a way that a student will be able to finish a programme in eight semesters. The flexibility allows a student to do her/his programme at a faster pace and finish it earlier than eight semesters or at a slower pace to finish it later than eight semesters.
Higher degree programmes
ME/MPharm/MPhil: The requirements of these programmes are described in terms of the total number of units, which a student is required to complete rather than the duration. However, a normal student may be able to complete such a programme in four semesters, wherein the last semester may be spent for either of the two available alternatives, namely, dissertation and practice school. Certain motivated and hardworking students who are in the dissertation stream may finish the programme in three semesters by starting the dissertation component right in their first semester. The programmes are intended to give a penetrating professional experience and an opportunity to acquire further competence either in one’s own discipline or in many other traditional areas of engineering, pharmacy as well as interdisciplinary areas, like, electronics and control, embedded systems, microelectronics, software systems, biotechnology, manufacturing systems, design engineering, materials science and technology, transportation engineering, public health, etc.
The institute has been running a management programme namely Master of Management Studies (MMS) with a strong foundation in science and engineering. Based on feedback from the industry, a new MBA programme has been formulated with input requirement as first degree of BITS or its equivalent. While principal input will be students already possessing an engineering degree, those who have other qualifications like BSc, BA, BCom may also apply provided they have aptitude towards having training in science, mathematics and technology as well. The requirements of the programme will necessitate such students to spend additional time, which may vary from one to four semesters depending upon their qualifications. For students not having an engineering degree, the course requirement will be worked out, looking at the earlier training on a case-by-case basis at the time of admission.
All Integrated first degree and higher degree programmes of the institute provide for a Practice School option. A student who exercises such an option receives, on successful completion of the programme, a degree which carries the tag “With Practice School”.
The Practice School (PS) method of education adopted at BITS creates the circumstance whereby the university is linked with the world of work. In short, it is a part of the total programme and takes the classroom for a period of seven-anda- half months to a professional location where the students and the faculty get involved in real-life problems.
The programme requires that the students undergo the rigour of the professional world in form as well as in substance. It differs from the ‘Practical Training’ as well as ‘Sandwich Schemes’ in as much as the entire student education at a PS station is supervised by the BITS faculty resident at the station. Credits obtained by the student at the station form a part of his total credit towards his degree.
During any academic year arrangements have to be made for PS programme for a steady number of 1400 students, accompanied by nearly 95 faculty members. Specifically, it means accommodating 656 students and 52 faculty members at about 90 different organisations for PS-I operative every summer, also arranging at a time for about 375 students accompanied by about 50 faculty members to attend PS-II implemented round the year.
While all the host organisations pay the students out-of-pocket allowance, some organisations provide the students and the faculty with housing and other facilities also.