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An email was received on student notices in relation to “Sophisticated Analytical Instruments Facility, or “SAIF” facilities being chargeable for internal users thereon. We reached out to Prof. Anindya Datta (Head, SAIF) to understand what SAIF is, the reasons behind the change and to provide better clarity. Following are the excerpts of the conversation.

SAIF, IIT Bombay houses a variety of major analytical instruments which are operated and maintained by a group of Scientists and Engineers. It operates with an “open access policy” so that all can benefit from the services of SAIF. Along with internal users, the facility is also available to external users who can register their samples via the online portal on the SAIF website. During the Financial Year 2016-17, the facility analysed over 40 thousand samples with a user base of over 3500 users.

An MoU was signed between IIT Bombay and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in 1979 which stated that the Institute will provide space, building and manpower while the DST will provide funds for running expenditure and buying equipments. Every year a meeting is held with the representatives of DST and that is where the budget is decided.

Until now, SAIF was not charging internal users for using the facility. Last year a draft of a fresh MoU was received from DST which said that internal users must be charged from now onwards. According to the SAIF Annual Report, the internal revenue that can be generated is more than twice that of external revenue which is one of the reasons why DST has been insisting on charging the internal users since quite some time now.

In the last meeting, the DST representatives had mentioned that DST wants to put more funds into buying equipments rather than operational costs, and hence insisted that SAIF generate more revenue to take care of the maintenance costs. The revised policy sets the charges for academic purposes to one-fifth (1/5th) that of industry charges and above that, internal academic users will have to pay only one-tenth (1/10th) that of Industry charges. However, given the sheer amount of revenue that can be generated from internal users, those who are heavily dependent on SAIF facilities might have to go an extra mile in order to arrange the required funds to continue using these facilities. The institute is currently trying to work out a way of providing funds for instrument usage for faculty members.

Following is the overview of instrument usage, the data normalized over a time frame of 8 hours a day for all working days:

Following is the Department Wise Total Internal Charges Table for the Period : 01-Apr-2016 To 31-Mar-2017

You can visit SAIF here : http://www.rsic.iitb.ac.in/index.html

This article first appeared in volume 20 issue 1 (Feb’18) of Insight IIT Bombay. You can find the rest of the articles at https://issuu.com/insightiitbombay/docs/insight-2.2