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August 7, 2001
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IIT Kharagpur to open campus in Silicon Valley

Krittivas Mukherjee in Calcutta

As part of its efforts to go global in its golden jubilee year, the premier Indian Institute of Technology at Kharagpur near Calcutta will open a campus in Silicon Valley, US, to impart distant-learning courses.

"Internationalising IIT Kharagpur will be the focal theme of the golden jubilee celebrations," institute director Amitabh Ghosh said.

Ghosh said the central government had given the go-ahead for the Silicon Valley project, which will be the first of many such ventures planned by the institute in other countries.

"We want true globalisation of education along side economic liberalisation. We have received positive vibes from the Indian government," Ghosh said.

Silicon Valley has been a natural choice for an overseas IIT campus because a large number of its former students are employed there.

An association of the IIT Kharagpur alumni, the IIT Foundation, is pooling in money for setting up the campus. "IITF has already contributed Rs 300 million to the institute," Ghosh said.

He said IIT Kharagpur, which has two campuses in the country (Calcutta and Bhubaneswar), is well equipped to undertake distant-learning with its nearly 2,100 ready video lectures by experts on different subjects.

Ghosh is optimistic that the IIT's upcoming Silicon Valley campus would generate interest among American students.

The institute is upgrading its facilities to international standards at a cost of Rs 340 million.

"Our endeavor is to provide opportunity to foreign students to study in the institute with financial assistance and also engage in faculty exchange programmes," Ghosh said.

There are other institutes here as well that are making global strides.

Perhaps for the first time in India's educational history, the world famous Harvard University is all set to forge an 'academic collaboration' with a private engineering college run by non-resident Indians.

Satyajit Chakrabarty, founder-director of Institute of Engineering & Management, West Bengal's first private engineering college, claims to have struck an agreement with the famous American university for an educational exchange programmes.

"Discussions with Harvard University authorities were at an advance stage. We are hopeful of introducing the first joint project within a couple of months," Chakrabarty had said.

Initially the association will be confined to a 'scholar exchange programme' between the two institutions. According to Chakrabarty, the 'teachers exchange programme' could start in the second phase, while in the final phase, the exchange programmes could spread to cover students.

In the scholar exchange programme, both institutions will embark on projects in the fields of micro-electronics and communication.

"These projects, which will be more of practical research unlike the prevailing Indian system, will be entirely industry sponsored," the IEM founder-director said.

Both institutions will select projects on their own and nominate their scholars for the job.

Chakrabarty says the mutual programme with Harvard is only the beginning of the process of integration of the educational systems of the two countries.

The IIT Kharagpur's endeavor is seen as another step in that direction.

Indo-Asian News Service


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