New Delhi: With the ministry of human resource development (HRD)—which oversees education—asking the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) to reserve 27% seats for students from other backward classes (OBCs) this year while increasing the number of seats by 54%, it has been a race against time at these coveted institutions to organize more classrooms, laboratories, teachers and, most of all, funds, which have been hard to come by.
While the IITs are already under severe stress, with each of the seven existing IITs already mentoring the six new IITs, half of which do not even have campuses, the IIMs that sought Rs500 crore for expansion and even quarrelled with the HRD ministry earlier over quotas, too, are struggling with a shortage of faculty and the pangs of a sudden expansion. For the IIMs, the quota order came just a couple of months before they were to begin session.
At IIM Bangalore (IIM-B), student intake before the OBC quota was around 240. The institute that currently stands on 100 acres now needs an additional 15-20 acres and about 110 faculty members. The current faculty count of 73 teachers is already 16 short of the approved strength of 89.
“We were already falling short of 16 teachers and now we need at least 110. The fresh recruitments have been slow, and it is only natural since the emphasis is on quality,” said an official at IIM-B, on condition of anonymity.
Under the OBC reservation law, cleared by the Supreme Court on 10 April, all higher education institutions must implement 27% OBC quota in phases over the next three years—that is, by the 2010 academic session.
But the institutes are still some way from being adequately equipped to take on the extra pressure.
IIM-B, for example, estimated an additional expenditure of Rs50 crore, excluding land worth Rs30 crore. But even as IIM-B sought Rs114 crore to build new infrastructure, the Centre sanctioned the premier business school just Rs33 crore.
“Since we can’t wait for government funds to reach us, we are initiating expansion plans from our internal funds earmarked in the annual budget,” the official explained.
With the funding expected only in phases over a period of five years, it is feared the IIMs’ plans for building more classrooms, hostels and upgrading information technology infrastructure may be seriously affected, added an IIM director, who too did not wish to be named.
At IIM Ahmedabad (IIM-A), which implemented 6% OBC reservation from this academic year, the focus has been on hiring more permanent faculty than inviting visiting faculty to bridge the shortage. In the second year, IIM-A will increase OBC reservation to 15%, and in the third year, the entire quota of 27% will be implemented.
All the IIMs are also working on revising faculty compensation to attract more teachers, an initiative the IITs have adopted as a policy.
“Accelerating the pace of implementing OBC quotas was almost impossible for us, but we have somehow done it by building classrooms and recruiting more faculty,” said IIM Lucknow director Devi Singh.
As for the IITs, the new schools in Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Gujarat and Punjab are being mentored by the IITs in Kanpur, Chennai, Guwahati, Kharagpur, Mumbai and Delhi, respectively. In the absence of any infrastructure for the new IITs, half the mentor institutes are also hosting students from the new IITs.
But the infrastructure and faculty crunch have raised concerns that the brand name of these reputed institutes may be impacted. “This indeed puts a serious question on the quality of teaching as teachers are already under stress. But there is very little we can do about it than carry on with the government order. We would have expanded with much enthusiasm if funding was smooth and we had more time on our hands,” an IIT director said, requesting anonymity.