An offshore campus of IIT Madras in Tanzania is among the options on the government’s table as it works on a plan to ensure the country’s premier engineering institutes have a presence on the world map.
The recommendations made in a draft report prepared by a 16-member committee — headed by IIT Council standing committee chairperson Dr K Radhakrishnan — are acting as a possible roadmap for the expansion plans, according to officials privy to the developments.
IIT Madras Director Prof V Kamakoti told The Indian Express that apart from Tanzania and other African countries, the institute has also received requests from Sri Lanka and Nepal for campuses to offer courses in emerging areas such as data sciences and artificial intelligence as well as energy systems.
“IIT Madras is in discussions with multiple countries, including Tanzania, regarding offshore campuses. We are considering many of these places. For African countries, programmes in mining are very important. In Nepal, there are demands for courses on energy systems. Courses in data sciences are in demand everywhere,” Prof Kamakoti said.
Discussions are underway to figure out if individual IITs should make forays abroad, or multiple IITs should jointly attempt to do so. Prof Kamakoti was among the seven IIT directors in the Radhakrishnan committee. Efforts are also being made to study the market demand in some of the countries which have placed requests for getting offshore campuses of Indian institutions.
“We are looking at what sort of courses can be offered. There may be some country-specific courses on offer, as for some countries, some topics can be of relevance. We will be arriving at different models based on feasibility, employment potential in those countries,” Prof Kamakoti said.
While initially, postgraduate courses might be offered in the proposed satellite campuses, the idea is to eventually scale them up to offer the flagship undergraduate degree courses taught in the IITs. The status of IIT Madras as an Institution of Eminence also puts it at a position of advantage while expanding abroad.
For admissions at the UG level, apart from JEE-Advanced scores, Scholastic Assessment Test or SAT scores might also be considered. The usage of SAT scores in admissions was among the suggestions made by IIT Delhi in its proposal to establish campuses in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. IIT-Delhi’s proposal, which remains pending with the government, states that its overseas campuses will offer four-year UG courses with an annual intake of up to 240 students in four branches based on SAT scores.
“As far as postgraduate programmes are concerned, we have our own entrance test and interview. The mechanism is well established. For UGs, we are looking at multiple options,” Prof Kamakoti said.
A joint degree model has already been approved by the UGC under which every higher educational institute, including the IITs, can tie-up with foreign universities to offer degrees.