Thursday, June 02, 2011

IITs say no to greater autonomy!

Going by a report carried by BS, the IITs don't really want greater autonomy, at least as envisaged by the Anil Kakodkar committee report on IITs.

The Kakodkar committee has favoured devolving greater powers to the IIT boards, with decisions on salaries, recruitment etc being largely left to them. Towards giving IITs greater operational freedom, it has suggested a substantial increase in fee from Rs 50,000 to Rs 2-2.5 lakh per annum. The IIT directors that BS spoke to had a different point of view from that expressed by the Kakodkar committee.

IIT Madras director MS Ananth is quoted as saying, "“In my personal opinion IITs have adequate autonomy. As an institution funded by tax-payers, I do not expect to be handed more on a platter." The IIT directors and also some faculty see any government withdrawal as coming in the way of the IITs' future growth:

“While the whole idea of the Kakodkar Panel is rooted in providing us more autonomy, I am not so sure that this will provide us with the prospects of growth that we need in the immediate future and in the long run,” said an IIT-Kharagpur professor on the condition of anonymity.
Gautam Barua, director, IIT Guwahati, expresses the view that key decisions should be taken by the IIT Council, which includes all IIT directors, rather than being left to the individual boards; leaving it to the boards would mean the absence of uniformity across IITs and the dilution of the IIM brand.

The attitude of the IIT directors is in refreshing contrast to that of some IIMs. The IITs have less autonomy on paper than the IIMs as the former are governed by an Act of Parliament whereas the latter are not. And yet the IITs believe they have all the autonomy they need while some of the IIMs keep bleating about lack of autonomy.

The older IIMs have been saying just the opposite of what the IITs are saying. They say they need to be financially independent of the government; they want more power be given to the boards; they have resisted moves to evolve a common policy across the IIMs through a pan-IIM board and other means; and they would rather have individual IIMs promoting their own brand.

So who has got it right on autonomy? The IITs, whose brand is better known worldwide than the IIMs, or the IIMs? I leave it to you to judge.

3 comments:

The World as seen by an Idle Mind. said...

Dear sir,

Is it not possible that both are right in their place?

In the current scenario, the IITs feed the research pipeline as well as the corporate pipeline and it is important that the students are not constrained by finances when considering an academic career over a corporate one.

Whereas the graduates from IIMs almost exclusively enter corporates. Even for the select few who pursue entrepreneurship, isn't a large corpus generated through corporate donations and which is managed by efficient professionals (maybe the alumni themselves) a more accessible source of seed funds than a government grant mired in red tape?

I may not have the right statistics at hand but the a PhD thesis is, on an average, less financially viable than a start-up which makes the corporate corpus option un-viable for the IITs...

Further, if you were to look at the respective flagship programmes, IITs offer a Bachelor's Degree and IIMs offer a Master's. Being an MBA, the Master's can be pursued even after a brief corporate stint, ensuring the personal finance are not totally precarious. As such, whereas a fee hike at the IIMs might perversely bring in a greater percentage of experienced students (and thus richer classroom discussions), the same at IITs would lead to capable students forfeiting the opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Good posting..

Nithya
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Twilight Fairy said...

Hello Sir,

Obviously you have more insight into the system given your proximity to the system and your experience. But I want to give you my opinion based on my experiences as a student at both fraternities.

I have felt that professors at IITs are so autonomous they are almost almighty (which is a good thing)whether it is classes, syllabus, research topics or funding. The students too enjoy an incredible amount of freedom to pursue their own respective paths and passions.You don't feel the need more freedom. At least, I didn't. But I can't say the same about IIMs.