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New Delhi: The government has now officially allowed top educational institutions such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) to hire non-academicians—from bankers to civil servants—for up to three years, in a move aimed at addressing the severe faculty shortage at these elite schools.

The human resource development (HRD) ministry has issued formal guidelines to all central government-funded technical institutes to this effect.

The move comes soon after several new central government-funded institutions were announced by finance minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech on 28 February.

The schools can now hire professionals to fill up to a fourth of their allowed faculty strength, and pay them a maximum of 1.2 lakh a month, two government officials said, citing a circular from the ministry.

In the last eight years, India has created more than 17 central universities, 14 IIMs and 15 IITs besides other central institutions. India’s central universities and institutions have 35% fewer faculty members than they should, according to data from the HRD ministry.

Officials in the HRD ministry said the move to allow recruitment of non-academicians will give flexibility to central government-funded institutions to get quality teachers, improve industry-academia relations and job prospects for students.

“One of the key objectives of these guidelines is to have a strong and robust collaboration between the educational institutions and industry. The guidelines seek to encourage quality involvement of academicians, scholars, practitioners, policy makers in teaching, research, and related services on a regular basis. Such involvement helps in bringing external perspective to regular teaching to make classes more interesting and to further enrich existing knowledge of faculty members," said the ministry circular.

According to the guidelines, professionals do not need academic degrees such as an MTech or a PhD to teach but will be given designations such as professor or associate professor, much like regular teaching staff.

The duration of their appointment will vary between one semester and six semesters (3 years) as decided by the institute. Reputed scientists, engineers, physicians, advocates, artists, civil servants, bankers and other professionals, “both serving and retired can be inducted as adjunct faculty from outside the Institute", the guidelines said.

Such a move could benefit institutions, especially the new ones.

The practice of hiring professionals to teach is prevalent in the US education system but hasn’t so far been done formally in India, said Ashwini Swain, a fellow at the CUTS Institute for Regulation and Competition.

If executed well it “can help tide over faculty crunch significantly", he said.

The HRD ministry believes the move will encourage professionals who make the shift to tap their companies’ corporate social responsibility resources for chair professorships, scholarships and funds.

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