IITs deliberate on Joint Initiatives to improve IITs’ International Outreach

IITs deliberate on Joint Initiatives to improve IITs’ International Outreach
Pritha Roy Choudhury | Jun 29, 2019 - 5:30 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI, JUNE 29: Dean - International Relations, of IITs from across the country assemble in IIT Kharagpur to brainstorm on initiatives to attract international students and work on international collaborations.

The two-day conclave which concluded today was attended by twelve IITs represented by the Deans and Executives of IR Offices. The conclave also witnessed deliberations on funding mechanisms and degree provisions apart from other areas of importance.

The participating IITs included those from Delhi, Bombay, Madras, Guwahati, Kanpur, Tirupathi, Mandi, Indore, Dhanbad, Roorkee, Palakkad and Kharagpur.

Stressing on the need for a collective effort Prof. Baidurya Bhattacharya, Dean IR, IIT Kharagpur, said “The IITs and their alumni are probably the finest products coming out of India since independence. While each IIT pursues and attains excellence in its own way, we must remember that individually, we are too small to make any sizeable impact globally. Together, however, with about 1 lakh students and about 5000 faculty members, the 23 IITs are a sizeable bloc and can compete favourably with the largest university systems around the world. We, therefore, need to join forces and synergistically pursue internationalization”.

While JEE remains the only gateway available to anyone seeking admission into the IIT system’s flagship undergraduate programs, most IITs have created the mechanism for graduate admission for international students. There was a consensus on enhancing the outreach and information dissemination globally about Masters and Doctoral programs at IITs and promoting foreign admission opportunities. “This will require tapping into the already existing network of academicians and alumni in select countries,” opined Prof. Rakhi Chaturvedi, Associate Dean, Alumni and External Relations, IIT Guwahati.

Prof. Somnath Chattopadhyay, Associate Dean, IIT (ISM) Dhanbad, said IIT (ISM) Dhanbad has also created an avenue for foreign undergraduate admission. “We have run a separate 5-year undergraduate programme exclusively for students in Afghanistan and African countries focused on Mining and Petroleum Engineering”.

The IITs further explored ways to make the selection process through ICCR scholarship schemes more streamlined and in alignment with the IIT admission criteria and timelines. These collective recommendations have been planned to be presented to ICCR for further discussion and consideration.

To ease out information availability and admission, Prof. Swati Patankar, Dean IR of IIT Bombay informed the gathering that a common application portal for joint admission of international students is underway.

The conclave also focused on global regions, which could be potential academic partners of the IITs for international students. Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, several countries in the ASEAN and Middle Eastern region, the African continent and Taiwan could be some of these regions. To take benefit of the competitive edge of academic disciplines in which the IITs excel, specific discipline oriented MoUs and agreements were also encouraged.

Prof. Anandaroop Bhattacharya, Associate Dean, International Relations at IIT Kharagpur proposed setting up a PAN IIT consortia with similar consortia in countries like France, Germany, Japan etc.

A key aspect of internationalization is increasing the presence of international faculty. IIT Madras highlighted their approach of hiring fresh doctorate-holding researchers on a 3-year contract as visiting international faculty staff to work at IIT Madras. This gives the Institute as well as the faculty the opportunity to experience different lines of thinking mutually and could lead to long-term engagement.

Sharing of best practices and networking between International Relations offices for coordination and outreach activities was also proposed. “Such initiatives would help third generation IITs and standardize some of the key operation procedures,” concluded Prof. K. N. Satyanarayana, Director, IIT Tirupati.

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