IITs to increase student intake by nearly 40% to 1 lakh

IIT council headed by HRD minister Prakash Javadekar also decided on a scheme for IITians to enrol for research at a monthly fellowship of about Rs60,000


HRD minister Prakash Javadekar says IIT Council has also approved a proposal to introduce the prime minister’s research fellowships. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
HRD minister Prakash Javadekar says IIT Council has also approved a proposal to introduce the prime minister’s research fellowships. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

New Delhi: The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), the country’s premier engineering schools, will ramp up their student intake by nearly 40% to 100,000 in the next three years.

In addition, a scheme will be launched to allow meritorious graduating B.Tech students of IITs to enrol for research and be paid a monthly fellowship of nearly Rs.60,000.

These decisions were approved by the IIT council, the apex decision-making body of the IITs headed by the human resource development (HRD) minister. A formal announcement will be made later.

The move to create a fellowship would foster research and will help in “reducing brain drain” from these premier schools, said HRD minister Prakash Javadekar after the six-hour long IIT council meeting in New Delhi.

At present, the IITs admit overall around 72,000 students across various streams and levels such as undergraduate, post-graduate and PhD levels.

“Overall the target is 100,000 students,” said IIT Madras director Bhaskar Ramamurthy.

By 2020, IITs will admit some 14,500 B.Tech students per year, up from 10,500 now, and 14,000 post-graduate students per year, including research scholars, up from nearly 8,000 now. The increase in capacity will be achieved in a staggered manner beginning in the 2017 academic year.

IITs are an ultimate symbol of aspiration for Indian students and considered a passport to career success. Over 1.2 million students aspire to enter IITs at the B.Tech level every year via a two-tier entrance system.

“We are now 23 IITs including six new IITs, and we don’t think achieving that overall number is a difficult task,” said Ramamurthy.

Javadekar said that the council discussed the matter and that some issues like filling up teaching vacancies need to be ironed out. The teacher-students ratio at IITs should be 1:10, while at present it varies between 1:12 and 1:15 for different IITs.

The target of increasing the intake to 100,000 students in three years could prove to be ambitious, said Gautam Barua, a former director of IIT Guwahati. The decision to increase the intake at IITs will allow more deserving students to get quality education, but infrastructure gaps and vacant teaching positions need to be filled, said Barua.

To accommodate the enhanced capacity, the IIT council will also allow post-graduate students to stay outside the campus. This means that, for the first time, IITs will make an exception to their policy of 100% residency.

“The plan is we will give post-graduate and research students choice to stay out from the next academic year while accommodating the under-graduate (B.Tech) students to stay fully in the campus,” said an HRD ministry official, who declined to be named as a formal announcement is yet to be made.

The IIT council is confident that its incentive payment of a monthly fellowship of Rs.60,000 to meritorious graduating B.Tech students, will encourage students to take up research instead of seeking a job.

This will be named Prime Minister fellowship programme and will be offered to some 1,000 students for a period of five years. Finance will be provided by the Union government. “We will move the finance ministry for requisite funds,” said the HRD minister.

“People are moving out of the country for better research opportunity and we want to provide them that opportunity as well as fellowship to stay back and help in brain gain,” Javadekar said.

Indian students spent some $1.98 billion for overseas education in 2015-16. In 2014-15, they spent some $2.47 billion and the expenditure was $1.93 billion in 2013-14, according to Reserve bank of India data, Mint reported on 27 June.

Javadekar said that the HRD ministry and IITs are planning to permit teachers from foreign universities to undertake research projects in India and allow IIT students to spend a semester in foreign schools.

He said this will give both IITs and its students global exposure and address some of the perception issues skewing the global ranking of IITs.

Currently, only one IIT has made it to top 200 in one of the global university rankings. IIT-Delhi was ranked 179 and Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore was ranked 147 in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) list of top 200 universities globally last year. QS is a UK-based global ranking agency.

Javadekar said efforts are on to improve the global rankings of IITs and he will meet them again to chalk out a proper plan towards that end.

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