A committee set up by the Center for Global Expansion of IITs, in consultation with Indian missions abroad, has identified the UK, UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Malaysia and Thailand as potential locations for offshore campuses under the “branded Indian International Institute of Technology”, The Sunday Express has learned
These seven countries ranked prominently on several key parameters, according to a report submitted to the Education Ministry by the 17-member committee, led by IIT Council standing committee chairman Dr K Radhakrishnan.
Parameters include level of interest and engagement, academic pedigree, enabling ecosystem to attract quality faculty and students, regulatory provisions and potential benefits to enhance India’s ‘brand and relationship’.
The report is based on feedback from the heads of 26 Indian missions, with the Economic Diplomacy section of the Ministry of External Affairs hosting two virtual sessions between the committee and embassy officials on February 2 and 28 March.
According to the inputs shared by the High Committee of India in the United Kingdom, the mission has obtained “six concrete proposals for cooperation from the University of Birmingham, King’s College London, University of Exeter, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge and University College London”.
“Our mission has made multiple requests for a meeting between the universities and the IIT committee. It has also requested a detailed concept note and a nodal point of contact to take forward this proposal,” states the report, which was reviewed by The Indian Express.
The report also states that IIT-Delhi is the preferred choice for UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Malaysia. According to the report, Egypt is keen to launch an agreement, online if not physical, from 2022 to 2023. However, the committee has advised against rushing, saying residential campuses would preferably only open after deliberate deliberations .
“A certain minimum area commitment is required for the campus by the local government while establishing the new institutes. Institutes are being created not for trade, but to build the image of the country abroad. So these institutes should cater to the local student population (which could be the Indian diaspora). The percentage of Indian students in these institutes should be less than 20%,” the report said.
The proposal to expand IITs abroad is not new. For example, IIT Delhi is already in talks with the Department of Education and Knowledge in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, while IIT Madras is exploring options in Sri Lanka, Nepal and Tanzania.
Until now, the discussions were largely about individual IITs. The committee, for the first time, has proposed a model under which a chain of institutions would be established under the banner of the Indian International Institute of Technology with national IITs as mentors.
The committee members included the directors of IIT Delhi, Madras, Kharagpur; ISM Dhanbad, Guwahati, Kanpur; Indian Institute of Science; NIGHT Surathkal; and the Vice-Chancellors of JNU, University of Delhi, University of Hyderabad and Banaras Hindu University; and, Dean (International Relations) IIT Bombay.
“The new institutes could be called ‘Indian International Institute of Technology in (country name)’. The suggested name is close enough to IIT with an international addition to emphasize/clarify that the institute is outside the India. The difference in name (with enough similarity) will allow the newly established institutes to develop their own identity and ethos, while leveraging the strength of the existing IITs,” the report states.
However, for the project to succeed and not become a burden on the mentoring institutes, it will require “substantial investment by the host country government or the Indian government,” the report states. “In fact, the sponsoring institute in India should expect a reasonable amount of gifts (eg 10% to 15% of the total expenditure of the offshore campus) from that campus,” the committee said in the report
In addition, the offshore campus will have to follow the laws and regulations of the host country, stating that there will be no reservations for students or employees unless required by local laws. “The Act of Parliament through which these institutes are set up should give them more freedom than the present IITs,” the commission said in the report.
In the committee’s report, Bhutan, Nepal, Bahrain, Japan, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea and Uzbekistan were ranked one level below the seven countries that were identified. Indian authorities should also establish arrangements in these countries, the committee said.