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Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are likely to institutionalize industry links with academics and allow four categories of engagements including that of ‘professors of practice’.

The move, suggested by an internal committee of the IIT Council, seeks to engage senior management-level professionals in teaching and research. It details the hiring process, tenure and eligibility of such professionals.

While visiting, adjunct and distinguished honorary professors from industry or scientific research labs will not be counted in the sanctioned faculty posts, the number of professors of practice may be between 5-10% of total faculty positions.

The move is expected to improve industry engagement, industry-academia collaborations for joint research and sharing of knowledge on industry practices.

“The committee underscores the imperative to step up the professional interaction between IITs and industry as well as between IITs and research institutions for mutual benefits and enhanced synergy to address problems of national importance," the panel report said.

Earlier this week, the education ministry said the IIT Council headed by minister Ramesh Pokhriyal favours industry engagement and mobility of faculty between institutions and industry.

The internal committee said professors and associate professors of practice “would be expected to enrich the experience of students by bringing deep understanding and appreciation of best practices, applied in real world settings. These individuals would ideally provide students with a deeper understanding of the practical applications in a particular field of study".

Additionally, they may also serve as liaison between the industry, the government and the institute in identifying teaching and research opportunities that support public interest and societal needs.

Professionals such as “CEO, CTO, vice president, director" with at least a Master’s degree in engineering, science, humanities, or a related field can be considered for the post of professor of practice. A PhD is desirable but not essential. However, the lack of a PhD must be offset by the “demonstrated domain knowledge obtained from deep experience in the field".

These professors of practice will be appointed for an initial period of three years and based on a rigorous review, a professor of practice may also be absorbed as a permanent professor. For such absorption, a PhD will be essential. Alternatively, such professionals may be hired for five more years after the three-year tenure based on their performance, as per the panel report. Mint has seen a copy of it.

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