Sunday, August 22, 2010

Land for institutions of higher education

The Punjab government has given ISB 100 acres of land in Mohali. BS is critical of institutions of higher education appropriating vast tracts of land:

Why do India’s institutions need so much land, and that too subsidised by the taxpayer? In an increasingly urbanising India, with land costs going up, the idea of large campuses, and of ones far away from city centres, should be discouraged. Some of the world’s best educational institutions function out of tall buildings in city centres. The only purpose large campuses serve is to preserve greenery and forest cover! If private institutions wish to acquire land, they should pay for it, more so if these are institutions that charge hefty fees and have well-heeled trustees, like the ISB does.

Why would they want 100 acres to build a business school that houses 500-odd students? Government-run universities and colleges, which cater to thousands of students and offer training in a number of disciplines, often operate from much less land. Is it any wonder that people whose land is acquired by the government and given out free to others feel the way they do?

There are answers to the questions raised here. Renting apartments is not as easy or inexpensive as it is in the US and elsewhere- a new batch of 500 or 1000 students will not find it easy to find rental accommodation in the vicinity of a college. Housing faculty and students on a campus makes for smooth functioning of the institutions round the year despite dislocations in the cities in which they operate. Campus accommodation is one of the few attractions of an academic position at IIT or IIM and it remains one of the very few means of attracting Indian faculty from abroad.

That said, questions may be asked as to why ISB needs so much land when it uses a visiting faculty model. We also need to push the IITs and IIMs to scale up their capacities on the land they occupy.


Anonymous said...

ISB uses visiting faculty model only for teaching and consulting. Resident faculty numbering around 40-45 is for hard core research barring one short course a semester. This may go up to 100 when fully recruited. Also factor in superior infrastructure in pretty much every aspect of campus planning. I believe institutions is India can make do with smaller, vertical campuses but have a tendency to hoard land when given the opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Good points, TT

Anonymous said...

Your statement " IITs and IIMs to scale up their capacities on the land they occupy...." is precious and you need to write more about this. If you were to do a student/area ratio the IIMs and IITs would end up at the top of the heap globally (and this in India, given our density, land habitability etc!). Its easy to do this exercise....btw, just check out the official websites of HBS etc...

Anonymous said...

I would like to exchange links with your site
Is this possible?