Facing a talent crunch that is familiar to many companies, the elite Indian Institute of Technology (Bombay) is offering all new faculty members a signing bonus of Rs 3 lakh.
Significantly, the bonuses are being raised by donations from the IIT alumni, generally a high-achieving bunch, who in recent years, have become more active, organised and sophisticated in giving back to their alma mater.
“This is a first for any of the IITs,” says Deepak B Phatak, professor at IIT’s Kanwal Rekhi School of Information Technology.
As a retention measure, IIT Bombay has significantly increased seed research grants to Rs 10 lakh to new faculty members this year. Until last year, such grants were only about Rs 3 lakh.
“We hope that this will influence what we call decision-making on the margins,” says Phatak, who is the convenor of IIT’s golden jubilee celebrations. The two initiatives are part of the anniversary celebrations.
The move shows how even the most prestigious institutes of higher education in India are no longer being able to overcome their relatively poor compensation packages and attract young talent. A growing dearth of students obtaining doctorates has also added to the pressure.
Remuneration for the faculty at IITs range between Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 a month, peaking at Rs 6 lakh annually. But the run-of-the-mill software professional, with under five years of experience, earns more than that, to about Rs 6.2 lakh, according to market researcher IDC India.
“Unless something is done to woo good teachers, the institute could face a serious faculty crunch as many members are due to retire in the near future,” said Ajay Ranade, chairman of the IIT Bombay Alumni Association and a 1982 graduate.
To get new faculty, IIT-Bombay’s Class of 1982, which celebrates its silver jubilee this year, pledged to raise about Rs 6 crore for the institute. Ranade notes that all alumni are welcome to donate for the cause.
While, IIT-Bombay has faculty strength of 420 with about 100 vacant positions, it is not alone: as an estimated figure of the seven IITs states a cumulative shortage of at least 900 faculty members.
Still, the IITs, which are India’s top-ranked technical educational institutes, have fared better than other engineering institutes across the country.
According to a report on revitalising technical education in the country, an additional 10,000 doctorates will be needed by 2008 to meet faculty requirements at Indian engineering institutions.
The Ministry of Human Resource and Development committee, headed by UR Rao, a prominent scientist and the former chair of the India Space Research Organization, authored the 2003 report.