While private investments, loans and grants to students have been the traditional means of funding education in India, some institutes have also managed to make the best out of alumni funding. Globally, the alumni funds are primarily utilised for the development of academic infrastructure, scholarships and research. “In India, this trend is yet to pick up. These funds can be utilised for subsidising fees of existing students, improving infrastructure, funding student and teacher exchange and research by the academic institutions,” says Rohin Kapoor, senior manager education practice at Deloitte.
Private institutes take a step
Some private institutes have already set up dedicated cells for monitoring alumni funds. The Indian School of Business (ISB) Hyderabad has raised nearly Rs. 3.5 crore from its alumni. It has established an alumni endowment fund for scholarships and research support to faculty members. Alumni have been contributing for development of infrastructure, offering scholarships to students and nurturing entrepreneurship activities.
In 2013, BITS Pilani launched BITSConnect 2.0, a virtual faculty-student-alumni interaction platform through immersive telepresence, video conferencing and live streaming technologies with the help of alumni funding. “BITS Alumni Association (BITSAA) International contributed 50% of the share of the project priced at approximately Rs. 32 crore. Through such initiatives alumni contribute not just by donating funds but significantly with their time and expertise,” says Hareish Gur, VP (Outreach), BITSAA International.
Thinking beyond ­central funding
As an endeavour towards becoming self-sufficient, some public funded institutes too have been raising funds from their alumni and not just depending on government money.
During 2013-14, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay received Rs. 19 crore from alumni and other well-wishers. “The efforts of the alumni leaders round the year help them to identify potential donors, engage with them and provide a match between our needs and their wishes,” says Professor Ravi Sinha, dean (alumni and corporate relations), IIT Bombay.
IIT Madras has managed to raise Rs. 24 crore in 2014, up from Rs. 12 crore per annum raised consecutively in 2011, 2012 and 2013, and Rs. 3 crore per annum in prior years. They intend to touch Rs. 500 crore by 2020. Alumni funds at IIT Madras are deployed towards various causes- infrastructure, scholarships and awards, travel grants, campus sustainability, student amenities and facilities, event sponsorships, chair professorships, research labs and projects, socially-relevant initiatives among ­others.
Similarly, at IIM Ahmedabad, the batch of 1987 contributed to CIIE conference hall, the batch of 1989 contributed to IIMA sports complex, the batch of 1971 contributed towards staff welfare.
Prof Arvind Sahay of 1989 batch contributed Rs. 2.3 crore towards the building of the sports complex and now spearheads our alumni funding activities.Most of these publicly funded institutes have high cut-off rates for admissions. Clearly, some of these institutes have nurtured students who make it to the admission list and made them successful enough to be able to share the institute’s burden.