IITs plan ‘chain’ of branch campuses in other countries

India’s premier technology institutions, the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), are set to branch into other countries after a government-appointed committee to facilitate the development of overseas campuses for IITs recommended seven possible locations abroad where they could be set up.

In a recent report submitted to India’s Ministry of Education, the committee of top IIT and university leaders suggested a model under which a chain of offshore campuses of IITs would be set up under the brand name of the Indian International Institute of Technology, with domestic IITs and other top-ranked universities as mentors.

Indian missions abroad and India’s Ministry of External Affairs will facilitate the process, the committee report said.

In the past the government had referred only to plans by individual institutes to set up campuses abroad. According to the committee’s report, an IIT can either establish an overseas campus on its own, or do so with a group of higher education institutions in alliance with a reputed host university abroad.

Director of the National Institute of Technology Karnataka (NITK) Surathkal, Professor Udaykumar R Yaragatti, who is also a member of the committee, told University World News: “We are ready to offer help in whichever country they attach us to.” However, he declined to provide more details at this stage.

NITK Surathkal was part of the committee to help facilitate the setting up of IIT campuses because it ranks among the top 10 institutions in India for engineering in the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) 2022.

India has some 23 government-funded but autonomous IITs.

Seven top destination countries

The committee conferred with Indian diplomatic missions abroad earlier this year to identify possible countries where IIT campuses could be set up and noted seven prospective locations: the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Malaysia and Thailand, all of which performed well across a range of important criteria.

The parameters included the amount of interest and commitment from countries where IITs could be located; the academic lineage or reputation of educational institutions that already exist in the host country, including the performance and achievements of scholars and students; the ecosystem’s capacity to attract excellent staff and students; regulatory requirements; and potential advantages to India’s branding and reputation.

Apart from the seven main countries already listed, the committee also ranked Bhutan, Nepal, Bahrain, Japan, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea and Uzbekistan just below the seven countries and said Indian authorities should also work out arrangements in these countries.

The 17-member committee, led by IIT Council Standing Committee Chairperson Dr K Radhakrishnan, also includes the directors of the IIT Bombay, IIT Kharagpur, IIT Madras, IIT Delhi, IIT Kanpur, IIT Guwahati and IIT Dhanbad.

The vice-chancellors of Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Banaras Hindu University, the University of Hyderabad and the director of the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru are also on the committee.

It recommended developing IIT-like fully residential overseas campuses with a 1:10 faculty to student ratio; a semester format which would include an India component; and multiple channels for admission – ranging from the competitive Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) currently used for IIT admissions in India, a Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT), to an offshore version of the JEE – to cater to the global and local student population, besides the Indian diaspora.

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