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IIT Bombay is in the process of preparing a strategy plan to direct its endeavours for the coming years. A few months ago, the Institute Strategy and Planning Committee was formed to study and give recommendations on how the institute should move forward. In April 2016, a survey was conducted among the graduating students on the different aspects of the strategy plan, particularly including academics, research and campus life. Based on the responses and discussions among the committee, the first draft has been prepared which is intended to be discussed and further edited based on the suggestions from the students and other stakeholders.
In this article, we comprehensively analyse the document which is going to steer our institute into the future. We would like to thank Prof. Rangan Banerjee, Convenor of the Drafting Committee, for his assistance.
The vision for our institute focuses on students as creators of new knowledge for the society. The institute has thus realised that the role and influence of IITians is restricted not just to the technology domain but affects the entire society.
The mission includes creating an ambience for future leaders to grow and flourish while also stressing upon the need to address problems faced by the nation, to provide a transformative education system that sensitizes students to the needs of the society and to collaborate with other research institutes.
The draft lists a set of goals that the Institute plans to achieve in the coming few years. We discuss the major ones below.
Engagement with society and industry
The aim is to create an ecosystem where deeper and sustainable collaboration with industry can result in product development and increasing manufacturing capabilities in the country. In order to harness the pool of talent that exists in the institute, many efforts have already been undertaken – Society for INnovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE), the Entrepreneurship Centre, and industry sponsored research centres and consortiums such as NCAIR, health consortium, and others, under the primary interface of The Industrial Research and Consultancy Centre (IRCC).
A Research Park which will catalyse interactions with the industry through consultancy, sponsored research projects,technology transfer and continuing education, has also been initiated with its first phase expected to be complete by 2019
Broaden educational spheres
As premier educational institutions, presently, the IITs offers degrees through the following broad categories: engineering and technology, basic sciences and mathematics, humanities and social sciences, design and management. The existing well-established programmes provide a foundation for further expansion; both by starting new undergraduate curriculums and by starting new programmes in disciplines that are currently not present in the institute.
To this end, a new undergraduate programme in Economics will be started, tentatively from 2017. Similar programmes in disciplines such as Mathematics, Earth Science Biology, Management, Humanities and Social Sciences are also in the pipeline. Masters degrees in filmmaking and fine arts are being considered while a Ph.D. programme in policy studies, with a focus on technology policy, shall start in the near future.
Improving internal support systems
Having doubled its intake of students over the years, the complexity of institute activities has increased thus necessitating strong linkages with various professional institutions and society. There is a deficit of specialized technical and managerial staff for administrative purposes which has led to the faculty devoting their time and
effort to these jobs. The institute envisages having a pool of manpower to assist the faculty in these processes to enable them to focus on research and academia.
A comprehensive Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system will be established to improve efficiency and transparency in institute processes. Technical staff with higher qualifications shall be allocated to each department along with additional staff for routine administrative work.
Enhancing student experience
The need to improve student experience during his/her stay is being stressed. A multipronged approach is thus being followed:
New hostels, including one for married students, are in the pipeline. The existing hostels will be upgraded or reconstructed, depending on the state of the structures. The ultimate goal is to have single rooms for everybody, which is however going to take some time due to resource constriction.
The aim is to have smaller class sizes especially in departmental courses to improve engagement of faculty with students. The faculty advising system will be enhanced as well to help students with academic problems.
Environment and Aesthetics
IIT Bombay takes pride in retaining its flora in the midst of a crowded, heavily concretized
city and wants to encourage students to appreciate its natural beauty. Students will thus be included in processes for planning of campus development, including green campus initiatives.
There are also plans of expanding the student counseling unit and carrying out an annual student satisfaction survey.
Broaden funding base
Both plan and non-plan grants on a per student basis have decreased sharply over the years, when corrected for inflation. Hence, depending solely on government grants, which now account for 55% of the total income, is likely to constrain future growth of the institute.
The primary sources of income other than government grants from MHRD are fees, research and consultancy income, and interest on corpus funds and donations. The institute will continue to make a case to the government for a base level of support to take care of its expenses and its maintenance, and at the same time work to increase alternate sources of funding.
Fees for students are unlikely to be increased significantly in the near future. Research funds have been increasing and this needs to continue with a greater emphasis on industry funds. The growth of consultancy income has been slower and the fraction of faculty involved in this activity is small. Schemes to enhance consultancy projects will thus be developed.
Donations have also been growing. To further enhance this, alumni, foundations and other well-wishers will be systematically tapped. The spending of the funds will also be more carefully planned.
International students and faculty
The institute recognises that a multicultural and multi-ethnic experience is a must for the future graduates to perform better in a global economy. Students, at the moment, do not get proper exposure in sharing ideas and thoughts with students belonging to different nations. There is also a mismatch between the number of students from the institute going abroad and the number of foreign students coming here. Multiple initiatives are being proposed to increase the number of international undergraduates and postgraduates to 10%mof the student population. The institute plans to enhance hostel and other facilities to welcome international students. The admission process will be streamlined and made online to facilitate student applications. JEE and GATE will be conducted in several countries and the institute will participate in conducting these examinations.
There are currently very few international faculty members. The Institute is working to put in place programmes to attract international faculty on a contract basis for a period of up to 5 years.
Advance frontiers of knowledge
Research is arguably the core activity of IIT Bombay. To enhance this, the aim is to create a stimulating intellectual environment by being home to internationally recognized faculty and research groups. It is also planned to encourage collaborative research with partner universities and facilitate the study of PhD students in these universities. The institute has envisaged the establishment of multidisciplinary research centres and other facilities to provide an optimal environment for research. Post Doctoral students shall be provided enhanced office facilities and additional space will be set aside for laboratories to assist them in their work.
Creating future leaders and innovators
The institute aims to create a talent pool that would provide future leaders and innovators for the nation. The institute accepts that students should have an option to take a wide range of elective courses, as it looks to strengthen the undergraduate research programme. Undergraduate students will be given opportunities to participate in projects of societal and industrial relevance. There are plans to increase the engagement of students with the industry through supervised internships for longer periods of up to six months and industry visits. International exchange programmes will also be boosted through partial financial support.
Enhancing gender diversity
IIT Bombay strives for equal representation from men and women among its faculty, students and staff members. While the institute acknowledges that the representation of women may be low due to societal cultural reasons, it would like to create as conducive an environment as possible for women to be a significant part of the
IIT Bombay community as possible. The number of women undergraduates are particularly small (8%). Efforts will be made to increase these numbers. Specifically, an information campaign will be carried out to inform school children and their parents of the opportunities for women in engineering, particularly engineers graduating from IITs.
Enhancing alumni engagement
The alumni of IIT Bombay, who are in an excess of 50,000, have always been one of the key stakeholders in the institute’s evolution and growth. They are influential in shaping the curriculum and enhancing the research environment of the institute. Our institute is committed to a lifelong involvement with all of its students and it will focus on adding value to their lives and support their research and professional careers. Alumni have been given access to research requirements and are welcome to the hostels in the campus and opportunities will be provided for interaction with students. An alumni centre will be established to cater to these visits and other forms of engagement.
The institute over the many decades has expanded greatly in many arenas. However, more often than not, growth has happened when opportunities were seen, rather than orienting the growth towards clear cut targets and devising a plan to achieve them. The latter is what the strategy plan seeks to achieve. On November 30, 2016, an open house was conducted in which the draft we dissected above was presented by the Director to all students and faculty. The Director invites student feedback on various aspects of the document, in particular academics, hostel and campus affairs, and research. The form for submitting feedback, along with the draft, is available on surveys.iitb.ac.in. Students are the core stakeholders when it comes to policy making in the institute. It is important that the vision and goals are oriented keeping student expectations and ideas into perspective.