Excellence in research is the need of the hour

N.R. Shetty

N.R. Shetty   | Photo Credit: Photo: R. Ashok

Harnessing knowledge is key to determining the prosperity of the country.

Every year, about three lakh students appear for IIT-JEE vying for 3,000 seats in the seven IITs in the country. Though the government plans to start a few more IITs, the proportion of success will be altered only minimally. Several thousands of deserving students would still continue to miss seats rather narrowly. On the other hand, there are several top-notch private institutions that are close to attaining IIT standards. Here lies the connect for qualitative enlargement of the higher education base, according to N.R. Shetty, national president of Indian Society for Technical Education (ISTE).

An ’out of box’ solution could be arrived at by identifying 100 such institutions across the country and admitting candidates on the basis of their score in IIT-JEE, said Prof. Shetty in a chat with Education Plus. While the managements would continue to have control over administration, for a decade-long period the Central Government must assume responsibility of raising the standard of the private institutions on a par with IIT by creating excellent research infrastructure and enhancing quality of faculty, he suggested.

Harnessing knowledge is key to determining the prosperity of the country. Given that India has the demographic advantage, it is time that technical institutions created the manpower needed to meet global human resource needs, said Prof. Shetty. Young people are the real assets, he asserts, advocating world-class education for deserving students.

On accreditation, he felt that with the National Board of Accreditation (NBA) being accorded provisional status, switching over to internationally recognised outcome-based accreditation – from the US-based Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) – is a matter of time for quality technical institutions in India. Once its status becomes permanent in a few year’s time, NBA could model its norms to suit ABET parameters, he said. Engineers from NBA-accredited colleges would then be able to practise their profession in America and European countries without having to obtain ABET certification. Right now, NBA accreditation is not applicable in the advanced countries since they do not recognise an accrediting body which is part of a regulator, in this case, AICTE.

Prof. Shetty also felt that content upgradation is key. Institutions must be in sync with emerging areas by accessing the content brought out by the consortium of IITs on the Open Source Software platform. He pointed out that there is a lot of material at the disposal of technical institutions to raise their standards and said that teachers should constantly update their knowledge to be able to assimilate new content.

To draw the best brains towards engineering institutions, the pay scale for technical teachers must be revised substantially, said Prof. Shetty. Parity with UGC scales is not ideal for engineering institutions. Right now, engineering colleges face the predicament of settling for mediocre teachers since brighter candidates seek greener pastures in industry. The pay scale must necessarily be on a par with what engineers are paid in industries, he said.


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