Visa process for foreign faculty in IITs made easier to attract overseas talent
Foreign academicians who want to teach at the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) will no longer require prior clearance for acquiring visas, a condition that has been a major irritant in hiring overseas talent.
The existing regulatory regime calls for prior approvals from both the ministry of external affairs (MEA) and the ministry of home affairs (MHA), resulting in delays of six to 18 months. According to sources, this usually results in the foreign academician turning down the job offer.
“We have agreed that they need not procure prior political clearance, with the exception of a few cases,” said a source.
Another major obstacle – an annual income threshold of approximately `16 lakh – is also likely to be relaxed, with the ministry mulling over bringing it down to `9.10 lakh for issuing work visas.
It was decided at an August meeting of the IIT council, chaired by human resource development (HRD) minister Prakash Javadekar, that the authorities should identify potential candidates graduating from reputed international universities to work in Indian institutions.
“The government wants to liberalise the existing regulatory regime for appointment of foreign faculty members. A few decisions to this effect were taken at a meeting called by the HRD ministry with the MEA and the MHA on Monday,” the source said.
A decision was reportedly taken in principle to ease the existing framework for permitting foreign academicians to teach in India, a senior official said. “Once the proposal is approved by the cabinet, foreign faculty members will be incentivised to teach at IITs. They would be paid over the threshold limit,” he added.
The IIT council has decided to systematically increase the number of foreign faculty members at IITs in the near future. “It’s necessary to bring in necessary diversification of faculty, and cross-fertilisation of ideas,” the official said.