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A committee constituted by the HRD is of the opinion that central institutions such as the IITs should be opened only in places which are accessible by air and in the vicinity of business or industrial hubs to fuel their growth. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
A committee constituted by the HRD is of the opinion that central institutions such as the IITs should be opened only in places which are accessible by air and in the vicinity of business or industrial hubs to fuel their growth. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

Central educational institutes may have to share resources

Upcoming institutions may be located in clusters close to cities and share resources, as scarcity of land and talent hobble expansion

New Delhi: Upcoming central educational institutions (CEIs) may be located in clusters close to cities and share resources, as scarcity of land and talent hobble expansion of these premier institutions.

While setting up new CEIs, the “endeavour should be to establish education hubs wherein an lIT and IIM, for example, can share some resources and have academic collaboration", according to a human resources development (HRD) ministry note on the meeting of a committee on CEIs appointed by the ministry. Two officials confirmed the note.

Top institutions such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), National Institutes of Technology (NITs), Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs), Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs) and central universities have vast land requirements. Several recently opened ones are working from makeshift campuses in the absence of adequate land and infrastructure.

Land requirements range from around 100 acres for IIITs, 200 acres for IIMs and IISERs, 300 acres for NITs and 500 acres for IITs and central universities. Some committee members felt these requirements can be rationalized and an IIM can be built over just 100 acres, or half of the current requirement, the first government official said, requesting anonymity.

The committee, led by higher education secretary Satyanarayan Mohanty, includes leading academics and industry experts. The ministry note says the committee has pointed to the urgency “to re-assess the requirement of land for setting up new central educational institutions in view of the fact that land is very scarce in the country".

A template for common facilities such as libraries, gyms, auditoriums and academic resources may be designed between CEIs, the note said. The area for these institutes should be determined keeping in view current enrolment and prospects of future growth.

“There is no other option than sharing resources and going for vertical build space instead of horizontal growth. This can help cut down land requirements," said the second official, who also requested anonymity.

The committee is of the opinion that CEIs should be opened only in places which are accessible by air and in the vicinity of business or industrial hubs to fuel their growth.

Bhaskar Ramamurthy, director of IIT Madras, said there is always a challenge to convince faculty members to move to a place which is less developed. Though new institutes are improving their facilities, geography has its own benefit and helps attract quality faculty and even companies for placement.

“In the last eight-nine years, the number of IITs, IIMs and central universities has doubled. Many of these top institutions have come up in less developed places, posing challenges to develop them both in terms of physical and intellectual infrastructure. Procuring huge land patches is always tough, leading to delays in construction and cost escalation," the second official said.

Since 2007-08, the number of IIMs has gone up from six to 13 and the number of IITs has more than doubled from seven to 16, the second official explained. The National Democratic Alliance government has also promised to open five more IITs, six more IIMs and several other top institutes.

The first official said the committee will submit its report after a few more meetings, in which it will deliberate the issues in detail, take examples from foreign educational institutes and vertical educational designs. “There are challenges and this committee was set up to find solutions. Getting large patches of land takes time, and it has led to huge cost escalation for IITs which were set up in last six years," the official said.

In May, the HRD ministry had proposed to raise the cost of setting up eight IITs from 6,080 crore to 15,664 crore—an increase of more than 150% over the initial project cost—the Comptroller and Auditor General of India said in December.

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