New Delhi: A serious shortage of faculty may compel the government to allow postgraduate and doctoral students teach undergraduates at the premier Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).
The matter will be discussed at the IIT council meeting scheduled for 7 January, two government officials said, requesting anonymity.
The government may also approve a fee hike in the institutes to make them financially more independent, as a committee suggested on 5 November.
Human resource development minister M.M. Pallam Raju has also asked IIT directors to give a presentation charting their reform and growth path, the officials said.
“The top 15% of the PhD and M. Tech students can be drafted for part-time teaching jobs along with their course. They will be paid to keep them motivated,” one of them said.
The ministry had established a committee to suggest ways to tackle the faculty shortage in all central government-funded institutes and this was one of its suggestions.
The IITs can give these part-time teachers an experience certificate after they complete their courses, the second official said.
India has 15 IITs and all of them face up to 40% shortage in teaching staff. For example, IIT Bombay has 528 professors, and is short by 250. Similarly, IIT Kharagpur has a shortage of 445 teachers against a sanctioned strength of 986.
Since attracting new teachers is a tough task, such a scheme can draw PhD scholars into teaching without instantly looking for a job in the corporate sector, the second official said. This plan is based on practices followed at some US universities. In India, privately- run BITS Pilani already does this.
It is a good scheme, according to Ajit Pratap Singh, dean of instructions at BITS Pilani.
The scheme at BITS has been ironed out after some early hitches. Several teaching assistants earlier have had to extend their courses because of their teaching commitments; they might, for example, need two-and-a-half years to complete a typical two-year postgraduate course while coping with handling classes for undergraduates. Some students complained and the institute devised a new model two years ago.
“Now, students don’t have to stay longer than the stipulated time but the remuneration has gone down. We allow 40% of the students to take up teaching assistant posts and attach them to senior professors. Since youngsters are good in technology, they help create the study content, take lab classes, give problem-solving tutorials, etc.,” said Singh.
The ministry is likely to allow the IITs to hike their course fee from Rs.50,000 a year now to Rs.90,000 from the next academic year. This decision too may be taken during the IIT council meeting.
“We have to be practical about the need. A course fee hike seems natural as the rate of everything has gone up significantly in the last few years,” said a third ministry official. “While the new minister is quite practical and reformative, he may not allow the hike to impact the reserved category student, at least in 2013.”
The standing committee of the council has recommended the fee hike and it’s up to the ministry to allow it or not. However, the standing committee’s recommendation is much lower than the government committee’s suggestion in 2011—a fourfold increase from an annual Rs.50,000 to Rs.2 lakh.