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Pvt players may play key roles in new IIITs

May 23, 2008 12:49 IST
The central government's view of exploring public-private partnership (PPP) in the establishment of new institutes of higher learning has a private hand, right from the first step.

Software industry body Nasscom has presented a detailed project report to the ministry of human resource development for establishment of 20 new Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) in India.  KPMG, the advisory services major, is also learnt to be working on the PPP model for educational institutes in the country.  

If Nasscom's recommendations on establishment of 20 new IIITs are accepted, it could be quite a contrast to the functioning of existing higher learning institutes. The Nasscom report has identified a major role for private organisations in terms of finance, faculty and resources.

Each of the IIITs has been proposed to be set up as a fully autonomous institution, through the PPP model. The partners setting up IIITs will be the ministry of human resource development, the governments of respective states where each IIIT will be established and industry members.

The report is learnt to have suggested that private organisations should play an equal or slightly greater role in bringing investment for the new IIITs.

While required investment into the IIITs could vary depending on the city, close to Rs 100 crore (Rs 1 billion) has been estimated for each IIIT. The suggested locations for the new IIITs include Ahmedabad, Jammu, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Delhi, Lucknow, Patna, Shillong, Kolkata, Indore, Nagpur, Bhubaneshwar, Pune, Vishakapatanam, Mysore, Bangalore, Mangalore, Coimbatore, Chennai and Thiruvanathapuram.

The locations of IIITs have been arrived at on the basis of how well connected they are in terms of transport and facilities and their prominence to industrial hubs.

Considering the dire faculty crunch in the country, Nasscom has made it clear that faculty members must be be given salaries prevalent in the market.

It has been suggested that each IIIT must have the autonomy to decide its own salary structure to compete with private educational institutes. Collaborating private organisations would be requested to send their experienced employees as visiting faculty members.  A higher number of visiting faculty and faculty-exchange programmes with universities in India and abroad have been suggested.

"We have recommended that pivate organisations should play a greater role in the development of the newer IIITs. We have suggested that they should collaborate with the IIITs for knowledge manpower, giving projects to students and for curriculum guidance," said Rajdeep Sahrawat, vice-president, Nasscom.  

The report says all programmes in an IIIT should be given equal importance, having noted that generally it is the undergraduate programme in institutes that receives most of the attention. It has been suggested that other post-graduate programmes, especially the PhD programmes, should not be compromised with.

The development of the PhD programme, according to one of the suggestions, is vital to the growth of IIITs as these doctoral students could be groomed for teaching positions in IIITs, creating a strong pool of candidates for top academic positions.

It has been recommended that the undergraduate programme of IIITs could be scaled up to 600 students, the post-graduate programme could take about 400 students and the PhD programme could have an intake of 100 students.

A faculty-student ratio of 1:14 has been suggested. The report has suggested an integrated campus model and a hub-and-spoke campus model, depending on the IIIT.

KPMG, on the other hand, has been in contact with the ministry of finance for suggesting ways to bring PPP into primary, secondary and higher secondary schooling as well as functioning of institutes of higher learning, including the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).

A source close to the development said KPMG would look into existing policies and legal framework before suggesting how private institutes could contribute in the physical and services part of developing an institute of higher learning.

The company would also look into the role of private organisations and enabling optimum rate of returns for them.

Archana Mohan in Ahmedabad