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Are corporate-backed universities good for YOU?

Last updated on: December 20, 2010 13:50 IST

Are corporate-backed universities good for YOU?

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Business doyens with enviable reputations have been setting up educational institutes across the country. We explore how good they are.

Tatas, Reliance, Infosys, Oberois, Mahindra, Bharti, ONGC and IOC are comparable to the best in class in their specific business domains. And most of them are in the private sector.

But, think of Indian education institutions that are comparable to the best in their class, not even one comes immediately to mind. Prof. Richard Levin, President, Yale University almost said so, when he commented about IITs and IIMS as good teaching institutions. And both of them are in the public domain.

It is not as if higher education in India does not have private players. Seventy five percent of engineering colleges and 90% of B-Schools have private providences. The situation would be more or less similar in other professional domains.

Some of them do have impressive infrastructure, but in terms of quality of students, faculty, research and institutional prestige, most of them have a lot of catching up to do.

The impossible constraints that the archaic rules put on these players also act as a dampener. But world over, especially in the US, it is the private universities, especially those funded by big corporate/businessperson donors, that are the biggest and the best.

Be it Harvard, Yale, Princeton or MIT. In India too, such a scenario is emerging, wherein corporate houses with deep pockets are entering education. Be it Shiv Nadar of HCL, Sunil Mittal of Bharti or Azim Premji of Wipro, all of them want to or have set up education institutions.

Now a corporate-funded university comes with its own set of advantages. First, of course, is the financial muscle. NIIT University has an initially outlay of 200 crores, Nadar speaks about a 250-acre campus. The now stopped Vedanta campus came in with a whopping Rs. 4,000 crore endowment.

They have a reputation to defend. So the quality would be better. LNMIT, the brainchild of steel baron Lakshmi Mittal boasts of an engineering faculty line-up which is one of the best outside the IIT system. Jindal University has the prespective to set up a School of International Studies with renowned scholars at its helm. So what is in it for you as a student?

Read on to find out...


Image: Find out if these corporate-backed universities good for you

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Tata Institute of Social Sciences: Get work exp from Day 1

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B Mahesh Sarma

Starting out with social welfare as the focus, TISS started by the Tatas is a premier institute today!

It all began with social work. So working in the field is something that comes naturally to any TISSian. Its MA programme is one of the few in the country, where students spend two days in a week working in a firm or an organisation.

It's a strictly unpaid job and students rotate across companies. "We plunge into real life from Day One," a student shares. By the third semester, mutual affinity leads to a host of pre-placement offers.

Professor Sasmita Palo, Chairperson, Placements, informs us that 40 percent of students get placed thanks to this industry experience. Being located in Mumbai, as well as its pedigree, also prove advantageous.

Academics

Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) owes its origin to the vision of Dr. Clifford Manshardt, a leading social scientist, in the early '30s. And that has resulted in the institution enhancing and diversifying the issues and areas it is concerned with over the years.

With schools in habitat studies, management and labour, rural development, social work and health system, it encompasses most pressing issues of the day.

Entry is exceptionally tough and the course work is tougher still. The school goes to extraordinary lengths to even out differences.

All students take the core courses together and residential halls are common. 

Research

As of now, research is concentrated on the labour side of the HRM discipline owing to its social work roots with respect to the management school.

"We need to beef up knowledge production in the mainstream discipline," says a faculty member.

But then, their intellectual output in the labour studies domain is path breaking, especially on employment and employability.

Other schools too do a lot of commissioned studies and independent research. TISS has one of the best citation indices amongst standalone social science institutions in the country.

Life on campus

Operating at the cusp between social sciences and specific issues like Disaster Managment and science policy, respect for difference in opinion is a fact of life in the institute.

Culture too is a lived experience here. A certain research flavour permeates the campus. The need to know and to probe, are visible in many students and the faculty.

"We do tend to develop a research bone," concurs a student. "At times much to the chagrin of our employers, we are prone to the analysis-paralysis syndrome," she chuckles. Branding is a major issue with the students. The school is notoriously media shy, and the alumni interface needs a lot more work. The institute needs to work on both these areas in the coming years.

FAST FACTS
Established:
1936
Location: Mumbai
Dean: Professor Sharit Bhowmik
Programmes: MA/ PG Diplomas
Approval/ Accreditation: Deemed University
Selection: CAT/ In-house
Full-time faculty: 81
Top recruiters: Accenture, Marico, Dale Carnigie, Cap Gemini, Tata Sons
Student Activities: Manthan (student fest)
Website: www.tiss.edu


Image: Starting out with social welfare as the focus, TISS is a premier institute today!

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OP Jindal Global University with a global focus!

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Nitin Jindal

What began as an initiative in law education, the JGLS started by the Jindals aims to morph into a comprehensive university with cutting edge disciplines

It's a three-hour drive from South Delhi to OP Jindal Global University. But the sheer visual delight or opulence that greets one at the university makes the long drive worth it. Be it the crisscross iron framework surrounding the main building, the extraordinarily beautiful Buddha sculpture, or the plush sofas in the library here's a campus that takes comfort and ambience quite seriously.

Academics

The University comprises three schools-law, management and international affairs.

While the law school is up and running with two batches, the management school has just opened and the school of international affairs is still nascent.

But collectively, they would emerge as a public university with global standards, says Prof Raj Kumar, Vice Chancellor. Currently, very few universities in India have active international affairs schools.

Exploring profiles of the other faculty, one is pleasantly surprised to find an alumnus of world-renowned universities like Harvard, Yale, Oxford and Cambridge. In fact, all faculty members of the law school and most of the business school have an international degree or work experience.

The law school has a yearly intake of 180 for its flagship five-year integrated BA LLB programme, which started in 2009. The school has 110 and 130 students in the second and first year, respectively. The Business School kicked off in 2010 with a batch of around 50 students.

Research

Though a young campus, the internationally acclaimed faculty do research and publish. Prof. Raj Kumar claims proudly, that two faculty members published in Harvard Business Review, a prestigious management journal.

The law school has its own journal -- Jindal Law Review.

The recent training programme that Jindal Global Law School did with Cambridge University for IPS officers is probably a sign of things to come.

But the sheer amount of administrative work, some of these fine scholars have to do, to get the schools going might impinge upon their research and publishing activities.

The university takes the word 'global' in its name, seriously. It has inked collaboration agreements with Yale, Harvard, Indiana University, New York University, University of Michigan, Queen's University and York University amongst others. And they go beyond mere agreements, Prof Raj Kumar points out.

Each one of them have been followed up seriously and have an activity or two to their credit, he asserts.

Campus life and beyond

A plush, spacious and well-stocked library, excellent food at the dining hall (albeit purely vegetarian, like the whole campus), and the helipad for the Chancellor further affirm the hypothesis.

But education at the Jindal Global Law School is not an easy proposition.

The fee for both the five-year law programme as well as the MBA programme is Rs. 5 lakhs per annum, and an additional Rs one lakh per annum for lodging, board and laundry.

The other courses like LLM are in the range of Rs. 2-3 lakhs per annum. There are a number of scholarships on offer as well. On the whole, about 75% of the students avail one scholarship or the other which averages to around 20% waiver.

As the student intake increases, getting adequate faculty might prove to be the biggest challenge for JGLS. And for that the university has to scout both international and domestic shores.

FAST FACTS
Established:
2009
Location: Sonipat, Haryana
Vice-Chancellor: Prof. C Raj Kumar
Programmes: BA LLB, LLM, MBA, PhD
Approval/ Accreditation: UGC notified Private University
Selection: Written test, Merit
Full-time faculty: 46
Top recruiters: NA
Seminar: NA
Student activities: Intramural tournament, Invicita
Website: www.jgls.org


Image: OP Jindal Global University

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Campus review: Nirma University, Ahmedabad

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Nimesh Chandra

Just like its parent corporate Nirma's philosophy 'Value for money' is written all overNirma University

The first thing that strikes one as you walk across the 110-acre Nirma University campus, is that the institute has invested quite a bit for the student.

It has well-stocked libraries at every school. It has ample hostel space with a lift facility in each, and exclusive ones for women.

The gym, is well-equipped. The surroundings are clean; there's no ungainly sight of garbage strewn around. The sports facilities are impressive, and neat eating joints dot the campus. Life is not expensive (the fee for the MBA programme is Rs. 3.3 lakhs). And yet, life is comfortable here.

Academics

Since Nirma University emerged after its colleges came into existence, the structure is based on having relatively independent schools with a few shared facilities. The institutes offer programmes in engineering, management, sciences, law and pharmacy. What is interesting is that the school also offers a series of diploma programmes, in engineering disciplines, in other words a polytechnic is part of the university. And it benefits from the university ambience.

Research

The university has a long way to go in research. Dr C Gopalkrishnan, Dean, Institute of Management puts things in perspective

"We are committed to students benefiting from our research capability," he said, as we chatted in his office cabin. "More than 50 percent of our teachers are PhDs," he shares.

Faculty are encouraged to undertake research for which the institute provides seed money of Rs. 1 lakh. But it isn't easy for prospective teachers to get a foothold in the institute. "We have a rigorous selection process," the director stresses. But the output is still not prolific. In the Institute of Science, publication data is available for just about five faculty members.

Life on campus

Many students live on campus. The hostel mess is all-vegetarian, not even eggs are served.

The mess charges are Rs. 2,000 2,500 per month, which includes three meals and evening tea.

However, some eateries in the vicinity serve non-vegetarian fare. It's not all work and no play at Nirma.

Plays, debates are a regular scene at the large campus auditorium, and for the artistically inclined, there's an art gallery dedicated to Founder Dr Karsanbhai Patel's (Founder) late daughter, Nirupama.

FAST FACTS
Established:
2003
Location: Ahmedabad
President: Karsan Bhai Patel
Approval/ Accreditation: UGC recognised University
Programmes: BTech, MTech, MCA, PhD, MBA, BPharm, MSc, BA LLB
Selection: Written test, GD, PI, merit
Full-time faculty: 321
Top recruiters: Ultratech, Torrent Power, RIL, Essar
Seminar: NICOM, Chemozale, Technoodyssey
Student activities: Richter10 (annual cultural event); Prayag-management Conclave
Website: www.nirmauni.ac.in


Image: Nirma University

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BITS Pilani: Explore the Practice School system

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Nitin Jindal

BITS Pilani founded by the Birlas is one of Asia's best engineering schools, known for its practice schools

On asking for the directions to the Director's office in the campus, I was instructed to set my cross-hairs upon the clock-tower. Though the architecture is Victorian, academics is definitely American, with MIT as the ideal, as Prof Raghuram puts it.

Genesis

GD Birla, the Founding Chairman established three major colleges in his birth place -- Pilani in Rajasthan. These were the Birla College of Science, Birla College of Arts and Humanities and Birla College of Engineering. These colleges merged and became the earliest privately-funded deemed university in the country.

Academics

GD Birla attended MIT, and was totally impressed and fascinated by the education system there. He also enabled a Ford Foundation grant, which facilitated some American professors to come to India and train BITS professors on the American education system. So BITS has an academic system which encompasses continuous evaluation, total internal evaluation, semester system and letter grading instead of marks.

Though engineering is the star attraction, the campus is also known for its MSc (Hons.) and MSc (Tech) integrated programmes. Spread over eight semesters, education is rigorous and since 2005, admission is through an online test.

Entry is difficult, and the emphasis on practice training is very high. Each student has to do an industry internship, that too under the supervision of visiting faculty. Practice School, PS as they call it, is taken very seriously. This is indicated by the fact that BITS Pilani has 50 dedicated, full-time off-campus faculty members just to ensure this.

"It was in 1979, we started in a big way with Practice school system, which has become a very well known model in the country today," says Prof. Raghuram.

This links industry experience to the curriculum, for every student. In this model, each student spends seven months and 15 days in the industry before he graduates.

A two-month stint during the summer after the first two years and a full semester of 5.5 months in the final year. This way he is already trained in the world of work before he graduates.

"This has given us a lot of dividends and is a win-win model for both the industry and the University. Today we have more than 150 industries taking part in this and take 2,000 students from BITS Pilani in a year," adds the Professor.

Research

With aspirations to become an MIT, research is an integral component at BITS, Pilani. Ranked 14 in the country in the area of research output in refereed journals, the institute has a legacy to live up to.

An active PhD programme also helps. With over 22 govt. departments and 11 foreign partners, R&D projects are on a roll in the campus, but consultancy, has not yet picked up. Dr.RK Baradwaj, a former faculty, attributes this to the disadvantage by virtue of its location. "Though right from the beginning, we did focus on the university-industry linkage," he shares.

Campus life and beyond

It is a mini city in this dusty town, and the notable structures in the campus include Saraswati temple (which reminds you of the many Birla temples across the nation), 'Shiv-Ganga', and a museum. A modern and expansive 'Student Activity Centre' houses multiple indoor badminton courts and table tennis tables, a gymnasium and open lawns where the students try their hand at martial arts like Judo and Karate.

There is a weather observatory and also a 'Sky Lawn' where the students can sit, relax, reflect and discuss. The number of motor vehicles is surprisingly low, with most of the students using bicycles.

Way forward

As a Deemed University, the BITS mandate is to 'be an island of excellence'. Most students concur that the institution is quite good.

According to Prof.Raghuram, today, when the universities have lost the sheen due to indiscriminate expanson, BITS uses its status to bring in innovative things in their education system. The university has been on an expansion mode in the last few years.

Campuses have been set up not only in Hyderabad and Goa, but also on a partnership basis in Dubai. And its off-campus programmes are also on the rise with 23 such programmes on offer. It is high time the institute took stock of its growth and plan further.

The new VC from IIT-Delhi, Prof. Bijendra Jain has his agenda cut out for him: increase the depth in each campus. "Consolidation is our agenda now," he quips. Amen to that!

FAST FACTS
Established:
1964
Vice-Chancellor: Prof. Bijendra Nath Jain
Programmes: BE, B Pharma, MSc, MPhil, ME, MBA
Approval/ Accreditation: NAAC accredited deemed to be University
Selection: BITSAT, merit basis Full-time faculty: 305
Top recruiters: Microsoft, Air Liquide, BHEL, KPMG
Conferences: Nano Microelectronics and Embedded System
Student activities: Oasis, Apogee, Interface
Website: www.bits-pilani.ac.in


Image: BITS Pilani

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NIIT University, Neemrana: Experience 'Seamless' learning

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Nitin Jindal

Set up with an objective to provide holistic education, NIIT University set up by the information technology training company NIIT takes a student's experience and mentoring, very seriously

"A campus must be built with students as the focus". These words by Rajendra Pawar, Founder Chairman -- NIIT Ltd and Founderof NIIT University (NU), ring true when Air Cmde (Retd.) Kamal Singh, Advisor for Infrastructure Services, explains the spacing between two academic blocks (nine more are planned).

With the hills on one side, they form an enclosed 'courtyard' that is sheltered from the harsh sun rays, giving students an ideal space to sit, reflect, engage. One is also encouraged to walk using specially created "spines" that are shaded and rain protected.

Academics

Though NU offers education at a price (Rs. 8.8 lakhs in just fees for the engineering course), the sheer thought that has gone into creating the student learning experience, may make it worth for those who can afford it. Teaching and learning process has been built around 4 principles: industry-linked, technology-based, research-driven and seamlessness (evident by campus structuring).

No departmental silos

There are no 'departments' for the faculty, and students belonging to different years and courses reside together, echoing one of the 4 core principles of the university: Seamlessness. 23 permanent faculty, 11 adjunct faculty and 3 visiting faculty, run its BTech (CSE, BT & ICT), MTech (four options), PhD and MBA programmes.

Faculty-student ratio is high currently but as the students increase, this is an area that would need continuous augmentation. Group of 10 eminent people referred to as Founding Professors, provide the academic touch. They mentor the young faculty, offer few lectures and as Prof. Kamal says, "Keep us on our toes by their work ethics".

Industry-linked

An exciting feature of doing an MBA at NU is that 25 CEOs have agreed to mentor students, besides various senior executives from the industry who provide guidance on a more regular basis.

Research

The nascent campus shows very little signs of active research activities. Since NU has just completed a year of existence it is almost impossible to assess its research capabilities. When quizzed, attention is drawn to the 25 acres of vacant land adjoining the two ready blocks.

"This is where we will have incubation labs and industry people," says Mr Pawar. When questioned about how he plans to sustain research at the campus, he says, with a twinkle in his eye, NU would get funds from the patents that will come out of the research.

Campus life and beyond

The small student body is beginning to show signs of life. Publications, Placements, and Patents, the three Ps that separate men from boys will manifest in the future, though the mentor list might come in handy.

Only time will tell. Pawar's philosophy of holistic learning translates to collective sunset and sunrise viewing for the students, trekking expeditions in Aravalli hills and experiential learning. Some students are amused, some are touched. But none seem unaffected. And that probably is the purpose of education!

Practising green technology

The campus does not use ACs or desert coolers. It relies on the principle that a constant temperature of 24 degrees celsius is always found at a depth of 4m inside the earth irrespective of the temperature on the surface. NU has created 8-9 km of tunnel at this depth inside the earth.

So, the air from the building is sucked in and made to move for approx. 100 ft inside the tunnels to ensure it reaches 24 degrees.

This cool air is blown into the buildings to keep them cool or warm depending on whether it is summer or winter respectively. Energy efficient, low carbon footprint, and therefore a green technology!

FAST FACTS
Established:
2009
Location: Neemrana
President: Rajeev Shorey
Programmes: BTech, MTech, PhD, MBA
Approval/ Accreditation: Declared as a State university by Govt. of Rajasthan
Selection: Merit basis
Full-time faculty: 34
Top recruiters: NA
Seminar: Engineering
Student activities: NA
Website:


Image: NIIT University

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SSN Institutions, Chennai: The thrust is on research

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Nimesh Chandra

SSN Institutions in Chennai founded by the HCL Group is a research-based institutionand adeemed university status would bring more autonomy and flexibility

From 98 students and eight faculty members in 1996, the SSN Institutions have a collective strength of over 3,200 students and 219 faculty members, today. "We emphasise a lot on research and will soon have a policy of recruiting only PhDs," says Dr. S Salivahanan, Principal. He elucidates further, "The management has invested Rs. 5 crore in ensuring that all faculty members have a PhD."

The focus on being known as a research-based institution is quite visible on the campus. At present, all regular programmes at SSN College of Engineering (SSNCoE) and SSN School of Management & Computer Applications (SoMCA) are affiliated to Anna University, and are approved by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

As they approach their 15th year, a committed effort is being made to get 'deemed university' status. According to the Dean (Academics), Dr. Kasturi, "This would give more autonomy and flexibility, particularly in introducing and amending course curricula".

Interaction with the students, however, reflected the fact that the 'deemed university' status may mean a higher fee structure, which at present is charged as per the regulations of the Anna University. SSN institutions offer scholarships in six categories.

Though four of them are the common ones based on merit, merit-cum-means, alumni and achievement in sports, the scholarships for poor meritorious students from rural government schools and first ten rank holders in any State/ other Boards through Walk-in-Walk-out category, needs special mention. Both these categories every year collectively fund 75 students for the entire programme including tuition and other fees, lodging, board and out-of-pocket expenses.

Academics

There are seven undergraduate programmes and five postgraduate programmes in Engineering. Sixty-five percent of admissions are made on merit in the qualifying examination under the single window counselling by Anna University while the remaining seats are filled under the management quota.

According to Dr. MG Bhaskar, Director Marketing, SSNCoE seats get filled up prior to any other engineering college in the counselling process.

The application to admission ratio is 30:1. The SoMCA offers MCA, MBA and GET.SET.GO, which is primarily for BPO sector aspirants. MBA students are admitted either through CAT, XAT, MAT or the test conducted by Anna University (TANCET).

Here the application to admission ratio is 15:1. MCA admissions are also based on merit and their TANCET score card.

All PG programmes are residential. The SSN School of Advanced Software Engineering (SASE) offers a Master of Science in Information Technology in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University, USA.

The soft spoken Director of SASE, Dr. Shashikant Albal elaborates, "Students start the programme in a known environment and also get an opportunity to complete six months of the 18-month programme at Carnegie Mellon, which focuses on practicum project facilitating the students to apply acquired skills to solve real-world problems." This programme last year fetched an average salary of $95,000. The fee for the entire programme is around $50,000.

Overall, students are excited about the academic rigour entwined with discipline. This is where perhaps it was felt, after interaction with students, that SSN institutions need another edifice in Humanities and Social Science. Such a school might help in producing slightly more well rounded professionals

Research

Apart from the SSN Research centre, which is a multi-disciplinary institute carrying out research on subjects that have a bearing on future applications of science & technology, there are select areas of research recognised by Anna University for PhD candidates to pursue their higher studies. Research efforts of individuals in the SSN community are recognised (there's an annual research day) and monetary incentives are given to researchers who publish in international and national journals.

For instance Prof. P Ramasamy, the Dean (Research) who is an authority on crystal growth, has grown the largest crystal in the world indigenously with his team, which still in the augmentation phase is over 120 cm long.

While the research centre has bagged 24 sponsored research projects worth Rs 8 crores recently and has 26 continuing projects worth Rs. 3 crore, what's lacking is the quantum and value of industrial consultancy assignments,. Efforts are also on to promote research by borrowing the expertise of industry-experienced people, so as to produce solutions that industry sorely requires from academia.

Campus life and beyond

There is a special thrust on sports facilities wherein students are greatly encouraged and due weightage is given at the time of admission. And the 14 sportspersons, including national level players in cricket and athletes, on the institution's roll is a testimony to this initiative.

There are clubs for literature, music, dance, photography, quizzing and hobby workshops. The inter-collegiate cultural festival -- Instincts attracted over 20,000 students from 300 different colleges this year.

The campus has 24-hour access to the Internet in the hostel and classrooms. and common messing facilities. And since 40% reside on campus, the remaining youth brigade is transported in a fleet of yellow buses, which seem to slice through the otherwise serene, green campus -- a sight to behold!

FAST FACTS
Established:
1996
Location: Kalavakkam (near Chennai)
President: Kala Vijayakumar
Programmes: BE,ME MBA, MCA
Approval: AICTE approved, affiliated to Anna University
Accreditation: National Board of Accreditation
Faculty: 219
Top recruiters: Intel, Infosys, HCL, Wipro, Yahoo, Zenta, Reliance Communications, TCS, LIC, Microsoft, CISCO, Oracle, IBM;
Student activities: INSTINCTS; SSN Trophy;
Website: www.ssn.edu.in


Image: SSN Institutions, Chennai

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LNM Institute of Technology: Computing is a way of life!

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Nitin Jindal

LNM Institute of Technology founded by the Mittals began as a hardcore computing education institution. But applications across domains and disciplines is the current thrust area

On the day of our visit, Prof Sudhir Raniwala, into the sixth month as the Director of the institute is busy with three faculty seminars lined up almost back-to-back, in the hope of recruiting new faculty.

For an institution that began with 29 students in a rented space in 2003, it has a come a long way. Having steel baron Lakshmi N Mittal as its backer does help.

Mittal recently pumped Rs. 35 crores 'to bring the institute at par with BITS, Pilani' he said.

For the 800-odd students on the 100-acre campus, this could mean more faculty members, hostels, labs and additional facilities and some more funds for research.

Genesis

It was founded in 2003, being the first of its kind in terms of being a Public and Private Partnership Model. An agreement was signed between the State Govt. of Rajasthan & Lakshmi and Usha Mittal Foundation. While the government gave the land, the entire infrastructure and corpus to run the school came from the trust, not to mention the advantages of being backed by a large manufacturing group.

Getting in

Getting into LNMIIT is quite tough. Admission is through AIEEE or IIT-JEE. According to Prof Raniwal, the logic is that if the student did not perform well on a particular day, he should not be penalised. If he crosses a certain threshold level in either of these exams, he's in. And the institute only admits students who rank in the top two percent of the AIEEE test takers.

Academics

Modelled on the lines of the IITs, and incubated by retired and current professors at IIT, Kanpur, LNMIT has the right DNA. The institute's faculty members are a mix of young and the experienced. It has some retired IIT professors and quite a few fresh PhDs.

Though most students we interacted with preferred to be taught by the young faculty, the impact of the experienced, did show up in unexpected places. Project based learning is de rigour, and continous evaluation is the norm.

Quite a few faculty members from various IITs, have instilled an avid interest in research amongst the students. In fact a sizeable number of students are quite keen on pursuing a career in research.

Admission through AIEEE does help, and the reasonably high cut-offs have resulted in a student pool that is intellectually stimulating. Internships and research projects at Mittal's manufacturing units are an added attraction.

Research

After seven years of existence, LNMIT does have signs of a healthy publishing record. Though the 359 items listed on the website go back to 1984, recent publications do indicate a robust number.

While a few projects funded by Department of Science and Technology run on the campus, full-fledged R&D activities are yet to flourish. Placements too have picked up recently. But a pet grouse of the students is that they do not get placement commensurate with quality and the level of learning imparted at LNMIT.

A unique project to get research activities on board is the LNM Scholars programme. These young students, 15 in number, are groomed to take up research projects on campus and they assist faculty in research and teaching.

Says Prof.Raniwala, "We also provide financial support to students if their paper is accepted in a conference. This promotes research and our recent 'success' has been that two of our 3rd year students are working at CERN in Geneva. They also have a paper published jointly with their scientists and scientists of Bhabha Atomic research Centre." These students have spent a complete semester there.

Campus life and beyond

An institute is known by what its alumni do and the research it produces. "These are the two main things. We also try to provide the student holistic education by not only including the subjects from the core stream but also subjects from Humanities and Social Science so he has a grasp on the larger scheme of things," says Dr. Raniwala.

Outside of academics, LNM IT is a lively campus, with various activities like sports, keeping the students pepped up. And since it is now a reasonably well-established institution, the campus is abuzz with festivals, conferences, conclaves and workshops. At the same time, faculty members who may have always dreamed of a tranquil and peaceful life towards the fag end of their career are not disappointed.


FAST FACTS
Established:
2003
Location: Jaipur
Director: Dr. Sudhir Raniwala
Programmes: BTech, Mtech. MS, PhD
Approval/ Accreditation: NAAC accreditation in process
Selection: Written test, interview
Full-time faculty:30
Top recruiters: Ericsson, Sapient, Infosys, TCS
Seminars: Science of IT, Communication skills, Abuses of Tobacco
Student activities: Dance competitions, TGMC workshop, Football tournament
Website: www.lnmiit.ac.in


Image: LNM Institute of Technology

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Reliance University: Marrying arts and technology

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The Mukesh Ambani led Reliance Foundation is setting up a university in collaboration with the London School of Economics. The foundation has already set up schools. Before the Reliance Empire split up, it founded the Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology in 2001 (DA-IICT). It later gained State Private University Status in Gujarat.

The university is modelled on the lines of American universities such as The University of Pennsylvania, and according to Mukesh Ambani, Chairman-Reliance Group it would be "international in scale and in best practices, but with an Indian soul."

The university will initially offer undergraduate courses, and postgraduate and doctoral courses in domains ranging from liberal arts to technology. Nita Ambani, President of the Reliance Foundation is heading the project.


Image: Mukesh Ambani
Photographs: Arko Dutta/Reuters
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Azim Premji University: An institute for educational studies

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The Azim Premji Foundation has been working for a decade now to set up a university. A brainchild of Azim Premji, Chairman, Wipro, Azim Premji University, Bangalore is being established under the Government of Karnataka's Azim Premji University Act, 2010.

The institution will focus on fundamental, applied and action research to expand the frontiers of knowledge in education and development. Specialisation areas in education would be Teacher Education, Education Philosophy, Sociology, Social Anthropology, Pedagogy of Science, Social Science and Language, Education Technology, Economics of Education and such topics.

In the domain of development, the research and learning will focus on Development Economics, Social Research, Governance, Environment and Ecology and Health to start with.

The distinguishing characteristics of this university is likely to be accommodating a community of such individuals who would develop a deep understanding of the social impact of education and its role in creating awareness on issues related to development and policy.

The University is likely to commence admissions by mid-2011 with interim arrangements before the full-fledged integrated campus comes up on the outskirts of  Bangalore by 2012.


Image: Azim Premji

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