Friday, August 31, 2012

Tightening of UK rule hits international students

Hundreds of international students, including from India, are facing uncertainty, following the decision by the UK Border Authority to revoke a London university’s right to have non-EU students. London Metropolitan University, which has an estimated 2,000 non-EU students, had its licence to sponsor international students revoked after it failed to address previously identified “systematic failings”, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) said on Thursday, adding that an audit had revealed problems with 61 per cent of files.

“These are problems with one university,” said the agency. “We are doing everything possible, working with Universities UK, to assist genuine students that have been affected.” Under current rules, students affected would have 60 days to find an alternative institution, or face having to leave the country.

The developments were “hugely significant and far reaching,” London Metropolitan University’s Vice- Chancellor Malcolm Gillies said adding that its “absolute priority” was to current and prospective students. “The university will meet all its obligations to them.”

A number of colleges have been forced to close in the UK following a tightening of the rules governing international students. However, London Metropolitan University is the largest and most prominent institution to be affected so far. Various groups sought to reassure international students that they would do as much as possible to limit the impact on them, including Universities UK, which also questioned the border agency’s strategy.

“We believe that there were alternative ways of addressing UKBA’s concerns, and that revocation of a university's licence should only be a decision of last resort.” The National Union of Students condemned the revocation. “It is disgusting that international students continue to be used as a political football by politicians,” said the group’s President Liam Burns.

Immigration Minister Damian Green told the BBC that he was not playing a political game but just “enforcing the law” and that it was an isolated case, and would not be “replicated across the universities sector.” The university had breached the rules in three important respects, he said, failing to show that all the students had leave to remain in the country, mandatory levels of English, or that they were regularly turning up to classes rather than working.

Source: The Hindu Business Line, August 31, 2012

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

IT-ITeS firms tie up with institutes to create employable graduates

Tired of complaining about the employability of graduates in the country, individual IT-ITeS firms are now tying up with educational institutes to be able to hire more employable graduates. In the bargain, apart from faculty development and creation of desired curriculum there will be real-time work experience for students, at the campus level. “It is paramount for the industry to work closely with educational institutions to integrate market evolution with business curriculum,” said Mohit Thukral, senior vice-president and business leader, Banking, Financial Services and Insurance, Genpact.

Genpect had yesterday signed an agreement with the Indian Institute of Management, Udaipur (IIM-U) to create a “knowledge partnership.” Under this seven-year agreement, IIM-U and Genpact will jointly develop a centre for asset-based lending and finance, and an analytics laboratory that will give students the opportunity to solve real-time problems, work on proprietary and industry software tools and technology as well as get hands on industry experience.

Genpact will offer summer internships to full-time students and set up a merit- based scholarship. Students who get the post-graduate diploma in management will be eligible for full-time employment at Genpact in its banking, analytics and finance businesses. Last week, Genpact entered into a tie-up with Institute of Management Technology (IMT), Ghaziabad, for training in analytics, one of the fastest growing segment for the industry. The company is also in talks with another institute that will create a curriculum and training for actuarial.

HCL Technologies is also working with education institutes to train students at the graduate level. The company had last year entered into a tie-up with Madras University, to hire graduate students (non-technical) with basic skills set for its call centre operations. “Last year, we hired close to 1,800 students. This was the first batch that we got on board after our tie-up with Madras University. The best experience from this tie-up is that we have not seen any drastic surprises. In the past, students would suddenly decide to leave the training period. Now, we have 100 per cent retention, as students are aware of what they are getting into,” said Subrat Chakravarty, HR head of business services, HCL Technologies.

HCL Technologies has now gone ahead and entered a similar tie-up with Bharathiar University, Chennai. The company has also constructed a facility within the university that allows it to train students and interact with the faculty. Chakravarty shares that such tie-ups are necessary for the students as they are not aware of the business environment. “It is very important to have a career dialogue. Students at this juncture are very confused, as they enter the job market,” he said.

With the current education system falling short of addressing the employability factor of engineering and non-technical graduates, the IT and ITeS industry has taken onto itself to address this problem. “Our idea is to create a skillset base in some of the niche upcoming business areas. We expect to be able to hire at least 20-25 per cent of the base of students who take up these courses,” said Thukral.

The need to tie-up with educational institutes is also arising from the fact that the industry is maturing and needs skillsets that are caters to upcoming technology areas like cloud, capital market in finance, analytics and others. Take the case of technology solutions firm Sapient. The firms finance and commodity business unit Sapient Global Markets, have set up a Global Market Institute that trains students in capital markets. "We do hire engineers but though they have all the technical knowledge they are not aware of how the capital markets works, especially the Wall Street. It is difficult to find talent in India in capital market. From 2008-09 onwards we created and ran a programme that catered to this segment. This programme runs for four to six months and involves, classroom training, and real-time engagement in projects," said Abhishek Bhattacharya, Director, Sapient Global Markets. Every year the company trains 300 people through this institute, for which it also flies in people from the US.

Source: Business Standard, August 30, 2012
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Harvard courses focus on India cases

Harvard Business School (HBS) is expanding its presence in India through adoption of more India-based cases and new offerings in Executive Education. The base of Indian case studies at HBS has risen to 90 in the last one year, and will see more additions in the coming time, says the school. “There are a lot more new India-focussed cases coming up in the next few years. We are still concentrating on building this up, gathering and creating more teaching material. It will take some time as it is a long process, and a lot of work goes into it,” said Stefan H. Thomke, William Barclay Harding Professor of Business Administration at HBS and Faculty Chair for HBS Executive Education in India.

Over the last five years since HBS opened its India Research Centre housed at Mahindra Towers, Mumbai, around 15 cases related to India have been published each year. Prior to that, there were fewer cases being written on India. This is reflective of a broader trend in business education around the world. Before the year 2000, business schools and Executive Education curricula did not have significant global content. Today, given the global macroeconomic scenario and the importance of understanding how to do business in emerging economies, there is greater need to create global content.

These cases are taught at Harvard Business School (MBA and Executive Education). They are also taught in business schools around the world, as well as in other Executive Education programmes and company training programmes around the world. The largest consumer of India-Focused cases are US B-schools, as faculty in MBA and Executive Education programmes seek to add more content from emerging markets like India into their curriculum.

Harvard Business Publishing (HBP) India, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation, last year signed an agreement with the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIM-B) to source 24 case studies from the institute every year. HBP publishes management content for academics, students, and professionals. IIM-B is the only institute from India and fourth from Asia that supplies case studies to HBP.

“Our agreement is that we will supply about 24 cases to HBP every year. We are putting only new cases written by IIM-B faculty. We started this last year,” said Professor Dinesh Kumar, Chairperson, Research and Publications, IIM-Bangalore. Kumar added IIM-B had gone through a process where it received a lot of tips on how to style the case, etc. Harvard hand-holded IIM-B for about a year. HBP distributes the cases to B-schools and corporates globally, including over 75 B-schools in India which use the cases extensively in their curriculum. Globally, these are priced at $3 per student for use in MBA programmes and $6.95 per student for use in Executive Education. However, Indian schools are charged a lot less in an effort to make the content more accessible to the faculty and students.

Executive Education offerings is another area where HBS is striving to expand its presence in the country. The institute began its Executive Education in India in 2006-07 with few programmes, but has expanded the portfolio gradually. This year, there will be a total of seven Executive Education programmes in India. “HBS has broadened its portfolio in India in terms of research and cases, and executive education will play a crucial part in this endeavour. Our programme portfolio folder has been increasing gradually, and we hope to keep it on a steady rise. So, you will have this and more in the future,” Thomke said

All the HBS programmes have been tweaked to cater to the Indian executives. The teaching methodology in particular, has been tweaked to be relevant to the local context. For example, HBS used the Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) ‘Sactor’ innovation case study in ITS Executive Education programme on management innovation, to help executives understand equipment sector innovation. The case study involved analysis of the project at M&M to produce a tractor with an in-built trolley that could be used for non-farm purposes.

“The questions you get in such focussed case-based discussions are also very different from what we see in other countries. For example, we invited M&M executives to answer questions related to this particular case, so that the participants could understand the subject better. Overall, there has been a healthy mix of India-focussed cases and global cases, because this is what the executives want,” Thomke added.

He said management innovation would be one topic that will be taught every year in India. He said HBS has put more of marketing aspects to the course, that makes it unique to India. HBP is also looking for different channels to cater to the Indian leadership.

Source: Business Standard, August 30, 2012

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Indian students stranded as UK cancels university licence

The licence of a major London-based university to admit Indian and other non-EU students has been revoked by Britain's immigration authorities citing "serious and systemic failings" on the part of the varsity, stranding hundreds of students.

With the next academic year starting shortly (September), plans of many Indian students preparing to travel to study at the London Metropolitan University were thrown into jeopardy, while current students will need to quickly make alternative plans.

"London Metropolitan University's licence to sponsor non-EU students has been revoked after it failed to address serious and systemic failings that were identified by the UK Border Agency six months ago," a UK Border Agency (UKBA) spokesman said.

A task force has been set up to help Indian and other non-EU students affected by the revocation, officials said. The university has over 2,000 international students, including Indians. Current Indian students who are in their second or third years of courses will need to transfer to another UK university to continue their courses. If this is not possible, they will need to abandon their courses and return to India within 60 days, according to the rules.

The London Metropolitan University, which recruits heavily from India and has offices in New Delhi and Chennai, is the first British university to have its licence to admit non-EU students revoked under measures to curb student visa abuse. Universities Minister David Willetts said: "It is important that genuine students who are affected through no fault of their own are offered prompt advice and help, including, if necessary, with finding other institutions at which to finish their studies".

"We are tonight asking HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) and Universities UK to lead a task force, which will include UKBA and the NUS, to work with London Metropolitan University to support affected students and enable them to continue their studies in the UK. The task force will start work immediately," he added.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), August 30, 2012

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Boards agree to standardized school-leaving examination

In another step towards simplifying and standardizing admissions to engineering schools, various education boards across the country have agreed to standardize examinations at the school-leaving level. This means that examinations conducted by the 29 boards across the country will have a similar structure and pattern, but different questions.

The move will “lead to a balanced evaluation system in our schools and help normalization of marks for the common admission test for engineering colleges”, said Vinit Joshi, President of the Council of Boards of School Education in India (Cobse) and Chairman of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). He added that the change has already been discussed by Cobse and would “do away the existing differences of various school boards”.

That’s important because India has been trying to move towards a so-called “one-nation, one-test” policy for admission to all central government-run engineering colleges. The proposal has been a controversial one because the exam gives additional weightage to marks scored by students in their school-leaving examination. The iconic Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) were at the forefront of the fight against this change, but the issue has since been settled, with all central government-run engineering colleges such as the National Institutes of Technology (NITs) and the Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) agreeing to a 40% weightage to marks in the school-leaving examination and the rest to the common entrance exam.
For IITs, the selection will be based on an advanced exam that will be conducted after the common test, and only students in the top 20 percentile of each board will be eligible.

The standardization the boards have agreed to will address a critical issue. “When you give 40% weight to the school board, the question arises as to what is the basis of rationalization in a country where so many boards exist,” said R.P. Sinha, Chairman of the Bihar School Examination Board. “This (standard question pattern) will be a natural solution to the normalization process. The next step could be a common marking pattern.”

Indeed, normalization across boards was proving a challenge and a professor at IIT-Delhi admits that that was one reason for the IITs’ initial opposition to the “one-nation, one-test” policy. The standardization of exams will mean that all boards will conduct examinations of similar duration that have the same number and similar type of questions (say, 10 multiple-choice, five short-answer, and three long-answer ones, explained Joshi). It will also change the perception that a certain board is better than another, or that its exams are easier to score in. “A standardized question pattern will stop the migration of students from one learning environment to another environment perceived to be better,” said Sangeeta Bhatia, principal of Delhi-based KIIT World School.

Around 2.5 million students across India appear for the school-leaving exam every year. Of these, around 1.5 million apply to IITs or other engineering schools.

Source: Mint, August 30, 2012

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Slowdown skips IIMs: Pre-Placement Offers remain buoyant

Joel Xavier, Manager, Student Affairs and Placements, at Indian Institute of Management-Udaipur (IIM-U), is upbeat. “Twenty-five companies had come for summer placements last year in October-November 2011 and they placed 57 students. These students successfully completed their summer internships in April-June 2012,” he said.

Its older peer, IIM-Bangalore, is no less bullish, as it has already received over 40 pre-placement offers (PPOs) compared to a total of 93 at the end of last year. Such offers at the institute keep trickling in till December which is when lateral placements begin.

Almost all IIMs said a muted economy notwithstanding, the final tally for PPOs will beat last year’s records, with some of the biggest names ranging from Hindustan Unilever, McKinsey and the financial sector giants turning up for placements this year. PPOs are placement offers to final year students who are, or were trainees, in the company during their internships. The IIM PPO process begins every July and goes on till final placements conclude in March-April of next year.

IIM-Raipur, which has around two PPOs in hand, is focusing on having international placements on campus and is also inviting more number of consultancy firms. "A lot of consulting firms largely restrict themselves to older IIMs. This year we have approached them to recruit from our campuses too and so far the response is positive," said Sanjeev Parashar, Placement Chairperson, IIM-Raipur. IIM-Raipur has a batch size of 48 students to place this year.

Devi Singh, Director of IIM-Lucknow said the institute has got a positive response from its recruiters as well as students who have returned from summer internship. Lucknow saw about 419 strong batch participating in summer internships this year. Godwin Tennyson, Placement Chairperson at IIM-Trichy, says "market is volatile for sure, but demand will certainly be there." PPOs at IIM-Trichy will keep flowing in till February 2013.

Recruiters are equally bullish. Boston Consulting Group (BCG), which emerged among the topmost recruiters from the IIMs last year has this year extended 27 PPO offers to students who interned with BCG in the summer of 2012. "These candidates will join BCG in 2013. Of this 26 are from the IIMs while one is from Harvard Business School," said Ravi Srivastava, Partner & Director, BCG. "BCG business continues to grow at a rapid pace, and we will continue recruiting in large numbers this year as well," Srivastava added. At Mumbai-based RPG group, 35 students interned during the summer from 10 B-schools this year and the company says it looks forward to an aggressive recruitment season.

Technically all students who intern are eligible to receive PPOs. However different firms have different policies -- some do not offer PPOs, some do not have plans to offer full time employment and also some firms offer PPI (Pre Placement Interviews). These firms put the candidates through one more final round of interview before the final placement process and then offer them a job if they qualify. All students are eligible to go through final placements. Every year all our students get one or more job offer through the campus placement process.

Source: Business Standard, August 29, 2012

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New IIMs to synchronise placement process to beat competition

The new Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) plan to join hands to beat competition from their older peers. The institutes told Business Standard they planned to synchronise their placements on the lines of those such as IIM Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Calcutta.

“The older IIMs synchronise their placements. Similarly, the newer IIMs can co-ordinate the placement process so that there is no job loss and the whole process is transparent. We will be exploring this option,” said Godwin Tennyson, placement chairperson at IIM-Tiruchirappalli.

Though the number of IIMs has gone up in the past two years — from seven to 13 — the pool of companies which these B-schools approach for placements, remains largely the same. Therefore, they are devising strategies to get companies to recruit from their campuses, too, apart from the older IIMs.

The new IIMs say given a smaller batch size (older IIMs have around seven times the batch size of newer IIMs), they provide companies with an option of not recruiting in bulk. So, deals are being worked out where the new IIMs tell companies to recruit 75 per cent of their work force requirement from older IIMs and 25 per cent from the newer IIMs.

“The pool of the big recruiters remains the same. And, with most of them having been recruiting from the older IIMs, there is a loyalty factor. This makes it imperative for the new IIMs to come together to beat competition from other B-schools,” said a placement committee member at IIM-Ranchi. Sanjeev Parashar, chairman, placements at IIM-Raipur agrees. “All the IIMs should work as part of a consortium as far as placements are concerned. There should not be any competition within the new IIMs. Our students are already in touch with students from other IIMs so that competition does not become unhealthy,” he says.

This is not all. The newer IIMs, in order to get the maximum number of companies on campus, are trying to keep their placement dates around the same time as their mentor IIMs. This would allow them to attract the same set of companies. Placement details at IIMs, say placements chairpersons, are always kept under wraps, except for the three big ones — Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Calcutta — which largely coordinate placements and share placement details with each other.

This apart, the newer IIMs are giving day zero slot to companies which are given a day three slot at the older IIMs. Many IIMs are also inviting a number of recruiters on campus to meet and interact with students. To have more companies on campus, the younger B-schools are organising live projects, colloquiums and HR conclaves to build relationships with companies.

The older IIMs however, are not deterred. “With a growing number of B-schools, the job pie will also shrink for every B-school. While it will be survival of the fittest kind of a situation, older IIMs are a brand and companies will flock to them for their quality of students,” said the placement chairperson from one of the older IIMs.

Source: Business Standard, August 28, 2012

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Few girls in IITs, more in other engineering courses

The Kota coaching factor still plays a key role in the IITs admission process, girls still opt less for these 15 institutes than for engineering courses elsewhere, and state school boards send the most students to IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology), according to an analysis of the patterns in the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) results of 2012.

The analysis, presented today at the meeting of the Joint Admission Board, found that girls comprise a mere 10 per cent of admissions to the 15 IITs after cracking JEE but 30-40 per cent in other engineering institutes, including several prestigious ones. An IIT professor says the coaching industry is a key factor in the current JEE system; most parents prefer not to send their daughters to coaching classes at far flung Kota or Hyderabad.

The analysis, conducted by the IITs, also examined the general student profile and found it is once again the middle class and urban India that dominates JEE. Jaipur and Hyderabad top the list with their dominant coaching culture, followed by Delhi; Kanpur, Lucknow and Allahabad too are in the top 10 cities sending students to IITs.

Of students who cracked JEE, 40 per cent students came from the CBSE; of those who reached the IITs, 50 per cent come from state boards. The ICSE and other school boards had poor representation. Prof. S G Dhande, Director of IIT Kanpur, says the analysis only reinforces the need to reinvent the JEE.

“It is clear that coaching is a very real factor giving students an extra edge at clearing JEE. That fewer girls make it is also linked to this factor. The analysis only draws attention to the urgent need to make this examination a more dynamic and responsive system that is modern rather than orthodox,” Prof. Dhande told The Indian Express. For 2013, the top 150,000 from JEE Main will be eligible for JEE Advanced.

Source: The Indian Express, August 28, 2012

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Top posts in institutes lying vacant as government mulls names

On July 13, 2012, Prof. Bipan Chandra was given a farewell as Chairman of the National Book Trust (NBT). Three days later, he was back in the post. The eminent historian was asked to continue for some more time as the search-cum-selection committee had not been able to find a successor.

The NBT isn’t the only institute to be currently looking for a head. As the UPA government’s indecisiveness extends to academic and cultural institutes, top positions in several premier ones have been lying vacant for months, with the authorities often calling into question the entire process of selection.

Prof. Chandra was appointed NBT chairman for the first time in 2004 for a three-year term. In 2007, a search committee was set up to find a successor. After mulling on the matter for over a year, no name was found and the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) asked Chandra to continue until further orders. In 2009, the 84-year-old was re-appointed to the post — a term he completed in July 2012. A search committee set up as late as June 2012 is again yet to submit recommendations. According to the MHRD, the appointments process is on and the search committee will be meeting later this month.

Over at the University Grants Commission (UGC), the post of Chairman has been lying vacant since Prof. S K Thorat completed his term in February 2011. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister had returned the two names shortlisted by the search cum selection panel — Prof. Pankaj Chandra, Director, IIM Bangalore, and Prof. Seyed Hasnain, former Vice-Chancellor, Hyderabad University. The search committee has now been asked to recommend more candidates.

The hectic lobbying by a candidate for the UGC top job, MPs writing letters in his support and the PMO overturning the candidates approved by the MHRD have not just undermined the ministry but also cast a doubt over the rigour followed by the search panel and called into question the merit of the shortlisted candidates.

The National Council of Educational Research & Training (NCERT) had remained rudderless for two years before the government found a candidate suitable for the job. While Prof. Krishna Kumar relinquished the post in 2009, the two years that have followed have seen the scrapping of a search-cum-selection committee by the MHRD amidst rumours of a member offering to resign in the face of “external pressure”. A fresh selection committee finally led to the appointment of Prof. Parvin Sinclair as NCERT Director in December 2011.

Describing the situation as most unfortunate, eminent educationist Prof. Yash Pal said: “The delay in appointing an NCERT Director worried me a great deal... There was no academic reason to do so... As far as the NBT is concerned, it is rather surprising that a successor to Bipan Chandra could not be found for so long. The UGC, of course, should be closed down and replaced with a single higher education regulator as our committee had recommended. While the government accepted our report, it was not fully implemented ... it is just hanging ... Because of this confusion, many eminent people did not want to associate with the UGC for fear of it closing down,” Prof. Pal, who penned a radical report on the Rejuvenation of Higher Education in India said.

Source: The Indian Express, August 28, 2012

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Monday, August 27, 2012

MBA loses shine as number of CAT aspirants falls to 200,000

The glamour of sporting an MBA badge seems to be losing its sheen as aspirations change among India’s youth amid an economic slowdown and some difficulty in getting jobs. A leading indicator of this is the waning number of aspirants writing the Common Admission Test (CAT) to qualify for postgraduate programmes at the country’s top business schools.

A panel of faculty members of the elite Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) that conducts CAT says this year some 200,000 people will appear for the examination, considered one of India’s toughest. In contrast, 276,000 wrote the test in 2008. And this at a time when the number of IIMs has risen to 13 from seven.

“Let’s respect the Gen Next’s career choice,” said S.S.S. Kumar, Convenor of CAT 2012 and a professor at IIM-Kozhikode. The turnout of CAT aspirants should not be treated like “companies’ quarterly results or like selling shampoo”, Kumar said. The trend does to an extent reflect the current state of India’s economy, he admitted. India’s central bank has lowered its growth projection for the economy to 6.5% from 7.3% in the financial year to March 2013. The economy grew at 8-9% every year between 2003 and 2008.

“The euphoria for management education that we saw between 2002 and 2008 is no more,” said H. Chaturvedi, Director of the Birla Institute of Management and Technology in Greater Noida on the outskirts of Delhi. Chaturvedi said the impact of the slowdown, growth in other career choices such as banking, and a mushrooming of management institutes in smaller cities without enough industry links have impacted the market.

“Many public sector banks have started hiring for the last three years and students now are going for it,” he said. “It’s a good career move at a time when management graduates are not finding many takers.” Chaturvedi also pointed to the fact that the supply of MBAs had gone up 300% between 2006 and 2011. India has at least 4,000 business schools catering to around 500,000 students, government data shows.

The drop in aspirants is not just restricted to CAT. Applications to most of the top-tier business schools are dropping. While the Xavier Aptitude Test, conducted by XLRI, Jamshedpur, received 102,329 applications in 2009, the number dropped to just 60,316 in 2011, according to research by MBAUniverse, a website that tracks management education.

That management education is losing its charm can be gauged from the fact that in the last academic year alone, 60 business schools applied for closure due to poor admission and placement response, Mint reported in March. “The regulator (government) needs to understand these symptoms and act accordingly,” Chaturvedi said. “From the institute side, they need to focus on quality faculty, content and value creation. An MBA college is not like a normal college. Industry linkage is key for placement, hence location of the institute, too, matters.”

While experts say there is enough evidence that management education is facing a shakeout, CAT convenor Kumar said that while the trend needs to be analysed further, the number for CAT aspirants seems to have stabilized around 200,000. “We are halfway through and hope to reach around that number,” he said.

CAT 2012 will be conducted between 11 October and 6 November. Registration began on 30 July and will end on 19 September. The examination will take place in 36 cities across India.

Source: Mint, August 27, 2012

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Automation industry body partners IIT-Madras for research projects

The Automation Industry Association (AIA) has tied up with Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) to enhance research projects in the field of industrial automation. It is eyeing a similar tie-up with IIT-Mumbai. The association is a forum for all automation companies in India spreading knowledge and creating awareness.

The institute has set up a Centre of Excellence in Industrial Automation at its campus. The collaboration will enable the institute to get industry inputs in developing curriculum and a modern lab, and formulate industry-relevant and need-based research projects, said the association’s President, K. Nandakumar. The centre has been set up by the institute’s Design Engineering Department, he said.

Each participating member company of AIA will bring a ‘mentor’ and a subject matter (or domain) expert. There will be joint development of curriculum, research projects, individual technology demonstrations, and training workshops under the agreement. The idea is to infuse contemporary technology and content into the educational system.

Leading players in the field of automation, such as B&R Automation, Larsen & Toubro Control and Automation and Siemens Ltd., have announced immediate participation in the project with their technologies, said Nandakumar, who is also the Chairman & Managing Director of the Mumbai-based Chemtrols Industries Ltd.
To begin with, the centre will focus on factory automation, which is easy to start, and later move on to process automation. About 20 students will be in the first batch, which is likely to commence in the next couple of weeks, he told Business Line. With automation pervasive in the manufacturing sector, there will be greater demand for ‘skilled manpower’ in automation. The centre will prepare students at the post-graduate level to be readily absorbed by the industry, he said.

Source: The Hindu Business Line, August 26, 2012
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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Top B-schools see foreigners apply for faculty posts

Ten years ago, Galit Shmueli would not have contemplated coming to India to teach, for the fear of being isolated from the research community in the West. Today, the Israeli academician, an associate professor of statistics and information systems at the Hyderabad-based Indian School of Business (ISB), says “geographical location is no longer a barrier, thanks to the high-speed internet.” Be it the gloomy economic scenario in the West or the growing numbers of globally acclaimed B-schools of India, domestic campuses are finding more number of non-Indian origin people applying for faculty posts.

At the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), the number of applications for faculty posts from foreign nationals has gone up from zero earlier to seven at present. “While the slowdown could be one of the reasons for academicians in the West looking towards India and Asia, we believe this is also because of IIM-A making it to the Financial Times (FT) rankings globally that has attracted these foreign nationals,” says Dean-Academics, Ajay Pandey.

Shmueli is finding the research culture at ISB similar to those in the US. “From the cultural point of view, most of my colleagues at ISB are Indians who had spent at least five years in top B-schools in the US. Hence, the research culture is very similar to my experience in the US and there is a lot of common ground. We all travel to the West to attend major conferences, and collaborate with colleagues abroad using Skype, email, and collaborative document sharing tools,” she says.

Ajit Balakrishnan, chairman, board of governors, IIM-Calcutta (IIM-C), says, “In the last couple of years it has become relatively easier to get PhDs. More NRIs are wanting to join Indian B-schools. While the IIMs are gaining in stature, the grim economic scenario internationally is also a factor.” IIM-C has hired around 20 faculty members in the last two years, and several of them have come from international universities. It has a pool of 95 faculty members.

The economic slowdown has meant financial trouble for international universities. According to The Economist, long-term debt at not-for-profit universities in America has been growing at 12 per cent a year, estimate Bain & Company, a consultancy, and Sterling Partners, a private-equity firm. A new report looked at the balance sheets and cashflow statements of 1,692 universities and colleges between 2006 and 2010, and found one-third were significantly weaker than they had been several years earlier. Even Harvard, Yale, Cornell and Georgetown have been on an unsustainable path in recent years, says Bain, though all have big endowments to cushion themselves.

At ISB, applications have been pouring in from people who are not of Indian origin over the past few years. But given the fact that the school looks for people who get into the top 30-50 schools world over, the demand continues to remain strong and supply weak. “There is a substantial interest among NRIs (Non-Resident Indians) to come, and it is easier for us to hire now than it was last year,” says Sanjay Kallapur, Senior Associate Dean, Faculty & Research Development. “There has been an increase in demand from people in Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. Though the US economy is still not doing well, the starting salaries have increased by 10 per cent,” says Kallapur.

ISB takes about a year to close an appointment for junior professors and three to five years for senior professors. The institute says it cannot pay international faculty members the same salary as that of the US. So, it benchmarks the salaries at about 60 per cent of the US salaries. “Now that the rupee has become cheaper, we cannot fully compensate for the same. This means we can’t reach 60 per cent of the US salaries. It has become more like 50 per cent of the US salaries,” says Kallapur.

Salaries at ISB are fixed in rupee terms and are benchmarked against the dollar when it was 40. The rupee on Tuesday slid to a fresh low of Rs. 55.39 against the dollar. It has declined by 11.5 per cent since February. ISB has 46 permanent faculty staff, and says it will continue to hire for a long time, as its programmes keep expanding. It opened a Mohali centre in Punjab this year. ISB’s salaries are better than its industry peers, which is why the IIMs say they are facing a challenge from ISB when it comes to recruiting international faculty members.

Meanwhile, Shmueli is positive on the Indian B-school scenario. “Because the concept of research at B-schools in India is new, another important area for growth is PhD programmes. Top B-schools have strong PhD programmes that support and expand faculty research, as well as providing a pool of new faculty. I look forward to seeing this growth in the next few years,” she adds.

Source: Business Standard, August 16, 2012

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Stage set for new India-US education partnership

Starting this year, as many as 200 American students will come to India’s Central universities and the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) as part of a novel ‘Connect India’ programme planned by the two countries. The University Grants Commission (UGC) will also award 300 Raman Fellowships to Indian students for post-doctoral studies in the US.

The moves aim at deepening the engagement between the two countries as part of the Second Indo-US Higher Education Dialogue. India and the US will also join hands to set up a cyber security cell, education testing services, twinning arrangements and meta-university format engagement with the US varsities. These are among the set of 15 concrete outlines of the Second Indo-US Higher Education Dialogue starting in October this year.

Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal led a 14-member delegation of academicians for participation in talks that were held on June 12 in Washington for a formal approval for the ‘Connect India’ programme which will be coordinated by the UGC and the Central universities. The Vice-Chancellor of JNU will be the key authority handling this project from the Indian side.

Waking up to the real threats that could come from the virtual world, India will later this year set up a Cyber Security Centre with the IIT-Delhi handling it along with the Ministry of Home Affairs. A few US institutions are also expected to assist in the project.

Aiming to boost institutional-level collaboration, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has already got the UGC to approve regulations to facilitate twinning arrangements between Indian and foreign educational institutions. These will enable tie-ups with foreign institutions without any need for a legislative backing. That apart, the UGC will also initiate the second round of the Manmohan Singh-Barack Obama fellowships and collaborate in education testing services along with the IIT-Kanpur and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).

The MHRD will identify ‘Grand Challenge’ areas for research and innovation related collaboration besides in the area of E-learning — a subject highlighted by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — support a US-India Higher Education web portal, host an international seminar on community colleges.

Source: The Indian Express, August 16, 2012

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

DBS ties up with TISS to fund social entrepreneurship graduates

Financial services group, DBS, has signed an agreement with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai to provide seed funding and incremental funding to its social entrepreneurship graduates. The social sciences institute has been providing a two-year Masters programme in social entrepreneurship since 2007.

DBS said it would fund start-up enterprises of select graduates for at least two years after graduation. Thereafter, based on the scalability of individual enterprises, it would provide additional funding. “We really needed support…DBS has come in at the right time,” Prof. S. Parasuraman, Director of the institute, said.

DBS did not disclose the total outlay for the funding programme, saying that the details are “confidential.” The funding will be a mix of both capital grants and debt funding. DBS Bank, India CEO, Sanjiv Bhasin said, “The interest rate on debt funding will be project specific. Till the venture fund breaks even, the interest rate might be low; thereafter it may rise.” Besides providing financial assistance, the Singapore-based financial group will also assist students with venture plans and ideation.

DBS Bank India, which has applied for four more branch licenses, said it is not averse to 40 per cent priority sector guidelines. The bank has 12 branches in India. “We will abide by the laws of the land. As of now we do not have to worry as there are less than 20 branches,” Bhasin said.

The central bank had said foreign banks with more than 20 branches will have to increase their priority sector lending (PSL) targets to 40 per cent from April 1, 2018. PSL targets now stand at 32 per cent for foreign banks.

Source: The Hindu Business Line, August 15, 2012

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Harvard again tops Shanghai's Jiaotong University survey

A ranking of the world's top schools compiled by a Chinese university has put Harvard first for the tenth year, in a list dominated by US institutions. The rankings of the world's top 500 universities, released by Shanghai's Jiaotong University today, have previously provoked controversy for placing an emphasis on scientific research.

Harvard University has taken the top spot for the life of the survey, which was started in 2003. Of the top 20 schools in 2012, only three were outside the United States, including Britain's Cambridge in fifth and Oxford in 10th. The top Asian school was the University of Tokyo in 20th place.

The annual list uses six indicators, including the number of Nobel prizes and Fields medals won, the number of highly cited researchers on staff and the number of articles by faculty published in Nature and Science magazines.

The top five this year was rounded out by Stanford University in second, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in third and the University of California at Berkeley in fourth.

For Continental Europe, the highest ranked was the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich in 23rd place, followed by two French schools, the University of Paris-Sud 11 at 37 and Pierre and Marie Curie University at 42.

The list was originally conceived to benchmark the performance of Chinese universities, amid efforts by Beijing to create a set of world-class research institutions. But some European officials say the criteria neglect the humanities and are thus biased against Europe's universities.

Greater China -- including mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong -- has no universities in the top 100 but is second for the number of schools in the top 500 with 42, according to a statement released with the rankings.

Mainland China's top ranked school was prestigious Peking University, which was in the top 200, closely followed by Jiaotong itself, beating out Tsinghua University, which is often called China's MIT.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), August 14, 2012

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Next Education to raise Rs 1.5 billion by year-end

Next Education India Pvt Ltd, a digital learning technology company, will raise Rs. 150 crore (Rs. 1.5 billion) from private equity players by December end. “We are in talks with them. We hope to conclude the deal by the year-end,” Beas Dev Ralhan, Chief Executive Officer, Next Education, has said.

Addressing a press conference here on Monday, he said the company had so far invested Rs. 2.5 billion, including Rs. 600 million on research and development of content. It raised the money from internal accruals and some debt from Kotak. It clocked revenue of Rs. 1 billion in the last financial year.

While the Indian education market (including higher education) is put at $40 billion, digital education market is pegged at $2-3 billion.

The company has tie-ups with 4,000 schools (in CBSE and ICSE streams) across the country and claims a student user base of 800,000. “Of this, 50,000 are paid customers, with 60 per cent of them coming back to us for content in renewals,” he said.

“The State board student population is 10-15 times bigger than the Central education streams. We are expecting a growth of 30 per cent in business from this arm,” said Ankur Agrawal, Executive Vice-President (Operations), Next Education.

Source: The Hindu Business Line, August 14, 2012

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Norms eased to raise density of medical colleges

The Union Ministry of Health has decided to allow split campuses — medical college and a hospital within 10 kms of each other across the country — to reduce India's skewed ratio of medical college distribution. So far, split campuses were allowed in nine cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Kanpur and Pune.

In a notification to be released within a few days the health ministry will allow medical colleges to start on 10-acre plots instead of 25 acres. Ministry officials say medical colleges in some states are shutting down hospitals inside towns due to unavailability of land and opening sprawling campuses on the outskirts, inconveniencing patients. Union health secretary P K Pradhan said, "We will allow split campuses across India now. Land unavailability should not hamper medical education."

At present, India has a density of one medical college per 3.841 million population. Around 315 medical colleges are spread across 188 of 642 districts.

Experts say there is an acute need for medical colleges in certain states. "Sometimes a hospital does not have enough land to start a medical college. We have asked the MCI (Medical Council of India) to relax norms to allow a split campus provided facilities like transportation and telecommunication are in place," a ministry official said.

The high-power expert group of the Planning Commission working on universal health coverage has proposed a phased addition of 187 colleges, according to which, by 2022, India will have one medical college per 2.5 million population in all states except Bihar, UP and West Bengal.

Source: The Times of India, August 14, 2012

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AICTE to dole out funds to promote research clusters

The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) will soon dole out Rs. 350 million — an amount which would be matched by India Inc — to state governments to support an aided institute in each state to become a research park.

The academia-industry collaboration seeks to improve the quality of research in the country by enhancing the investment on research and development (R&D) to 1.5% of the GDP from the current level of 0.8% of GDP besides ensuring transfer of knowledge from universities to industry and vice versa.

“We and the industry partner will each provide seed money of Rs. 10 million to each state for setting up research parks. However, these state aided institutes will be those other than the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs),” S S Mantha, Chairman, AICTE told FE.

The proposed scheme seeks to provide financial assistance to institutions for setting up a research park in collaboration with the industry or a group of industries. At present, close to 0.7% of the total number of students in are enrolled for research and out of the total research students (83,000), 86% are in the universities.

In return, the institute will have to provide 300-500 sq m built up area for setting up research facilities in the institute premises to receive funding under this scheme. While the industry will pass on their research and innovation work to the institute, the students and teaching faculties of the institute would be required to work on ideas for converting into successful technological innovations and outcome based projects.

“The industry academia collaboration in research and innovation will also help in developing cluster institutes regionally wherein the neighbouring institutes and industries can also join the activity,” he added. In another move to boost research output in the country, the council plans to place the top 100 research students at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)laboratories.

The two schemes are in line with the government’s broader plan to improve the status of research in India which also includes outcome based research financing, liberal research grants, incubation centers and lab – classroom linkages, among others.

Source: The Financial Express, August 14, 2012

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Teachers protest “bid to privatise education”

The Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) organised a day-long convention for teachers from across the country here on Monday to deliberate on recent policy changes in higher education and their consequences on teachers and students.

The All-India Convention of Teachers on “Higher Education in Crisis” resolved to observe a one-day strike across the country to build up an all-India struggle on the issue. The resolution said all current Education Bills before Parliament were concrete steps “by the Government to institutionalise privatisation leading to commodification of higher education. The Bills, if passed, will exclude the majority from higher education”.

Anti-people agenda
“The consensus which emerged from this Convention is that the Government had deliberately adopted an anti-democratic approach to teachers’ service conditions and academic freedom in order to overcome any kind of opposition to its designs. The participating teachers’ organisations converged to give a call to all teachers to defeat the Government’s anti-people agenda in higher education by fighting composite struggles against all forms of unilateral authority and bureaucratic infringement on academic issues,” said DUTA President Amar Deo Sharma, adding that the convention had also noted that the Vice-Chancellor was not meeting any of the DUTA office-bearers.

He said there were 12 teachers’ organisations besides DUTA that participated in the convention including the Federation of Central University Teachers, All India Federation of College and University Teachers, Rajasthan University Teachers’ Association, Panjab University Teachers’ Association , Tripura University Teachers’ Association, Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers’ Association JNUTA, Aligarh Muslim University Teachers’ Association, IGNOU Teachers’ Association, IP State University Teachers’ Association, Allahabad University Teachers’ Association, Jamia Teachers’ Association, Jamia Hamdard Teachers’ Association and the All India Forum for Right to Education.

Source: The Hindu, August 14, 2012

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New course in Actuarial Science

Delhi University’s Hindu College has entered into a partnership with a private company, MetLife Insurance, for its new add-on or part-time course in Actuarial Science that will be open to any student enrolled for any course in the University.

“The idea behind the course is to enhance the skills of students by exposing them to new and different courses and will benefit those interested in making their career in insurance,” said Hindu College Principal Pradyum Kumar, adding that the course will be formally inaugurated on Thursday and that it was being introduced as part of a series of innovative programmes. “This is following the success of our other add-on language courses that have become familiar,” he said.

The course will be conducted by Hindu College faculty and students will get practical training from MetLife through internships. However, the course is mostly intended to equip students to eventually face the Actuarial Common Entrance Test that is conducted by the Actuarial Society of India. The exam allows you to become an Actuarial Scientist in any insurance company.

“An actuarial scientist is a person who looks after the financial aspects of an insurance company, is a representative of the company’s regulatory authority and looks after its back office work. The best part of the exam is that once you qualify you can be employed even in an insurance company abroad,” said MetLife Managing Director Rajesh Relan.

The classes on weekdays will be from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. On weekends, there will be two sets of classes: from 9:00 am to 11:15 am, and from 11:15 am to 1:15 pm. The exams for the course will be held at the end of each semester and students will get a certificate at the end.

Source: The Hindu, August 14, 2012

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XLRI plans to set up new campus; on overdrive to raise Rs. 1 billion

XLRI, Jamshedpur has embarked upon a fund-raising drive with plans to notch up Rs. 100 crore (Rs. 1 billion) in endowments over the next five years. The institute is tapping both its alumni and corporates and, along the lines of B-schools abroad, is open to naming centres or facilities after donors.

So far, the institute has raised around Rs. 16.2 million. HCL Technologies Vice-Chairman and CEO Vineet Nayar, an alumni as well as board of governors' member, has also pledged Rs. 10 million in his individual capacity, which will go towards XLRI's proposed Delhi campus.

XLRI Director E Abraham said: "We have formed a core committee of alumni who are now working on how to take the endowment fund initiative forward. This is a common practice abroad, even in Jesuit schools. We will also be approaching companies that rank among our major recruiters."

XLRI that was founded in 1949 has so far has been functioning almost entirely on its own funds. The institute already has a surplus of around Rs. 225 million. The XLRI Endowment Fund initiative was taken up by the 1983 batch when it met in 2008 to celebrate their silver jubilee of graduating. Earlier this year, the director and S Sarin made presentations at the summer alumni meets in Delhi, Kolkata, Pune and Mumbai attended by over 1,500 alumni. The institute also plans to hold alumni meets in New York, Boston, Toronto, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles to encourage alumni to give back to the institute.

The funds raised will go towards upgradation of existing physical infrastructure to world-class standards, creating chair professorships, providing scholarship and loans to needy students, supporting global research as well as the social initiatives of XLRI in the area of education for the poor, rural entrepreneurship and the like.

"A large chunk of this will also go towards our new campus which will come up in Delhi," said E Abraham. The new campus is estimated to cost about Rs. 500-600 million. "Besides regular programmes, it will also offer niche programmes. We have initiated talks with Georgetown University and plan to set up a School of Foreign Service as well as a School of Public Policy," said Abraham. XLRI is setting up an international hostel in Jamshedpur for its just-launched three-country global MBA programme.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), August 14, 2012

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Fall in applicant numbers after IGNOU slashes courses

Troubled times for Indira Gandhi National Open University (I)GNOU are far from over. With just a day left for this year's admissions to close, the number of applicants this year has drastically come down in comparison to last year— by as much as 50% so far.

Moreover, with the withdrawal of schemes like convergence, community colleges, BEd course and face to face programmes, the admissions are on hold affecting thousand of aspirants. To make matters worse, the Board of Management (BOM) of the university in its meeting on July 28 resolved to pass on the control of the Distance Education Council (DEC) to the University Grants Commission (UGC) as an interim measure.

Despite admissions being open till August 14 where students can apply paying a late fee, Ignou officials believe that July 2012 admission figures will significantly fall short of the 250,000 mark of July 2011 admission.

Meanwhile, admissions in the 500-odd colleges under the convergence scheme and 300 colleges under the community colleges are also on hold resulting in the loss of 25,000 to 30,000 new students. The admission across 26 courses under face to face mode and BEd are also on hold resulting in the university losing out on affecting approximately 13,000 new students. A BOM meeting in ay 2012 decided to close down all these schemes.

Former head of the convergence and community college schemes, Ignou, Dr R Sudarshan said: "The schemes have been discontinued without following procedures and has affected large number of students. In fact, the BOM was misled by the then acting vice chancellor. The larger picture is that Ignou has been mandated to make education accessible to far flung areas and by closing down such schemes, we are acting against the mandate itself."

Agreeing that admissions have been slow so far, newly appointed acting vice chancellor, Prof Gopinath Pradhan said that the university is waiting for the report of the committee that was set up to look into the decisions of closing the schemes. "The university will only be able to take further action after receiving the report," said Pradhan.

Source: The Times of India, August 13, 2012

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Students from UK institute get a taste of RBI functioning

Emma Nowak, pursuing her second year economics degree at the Newcastle University Business School, was always keen to experience and learn more about the procedures carried out at a central bank first-hand. Through her institute, not only was she able to do this but was also able to learn about the central bank and financial policies from the experts. And, all this was done at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in Pune.

Students of the Newcastle University Business School are on summer internship opportunity, as a part of their global exposure. Six undergraduate students from the institute were a part of a programme to intern with RBI in Pune for six weeks.

"Today, employers are less than enamoured with such international study ‘tours’, and expect to see international experience programmes founded on good pedagogical foundations. The Reserve Bank of India Summer internship programme is, therefore, such a wonderful opportunity, something we would like to replicate with other companies across the world," said Laura Foster, head of communications, Newcastle University Business School.

Though this programme started on a pilot basis last year with five students, the business school will now make it an annual feature. Though the RBI offers summer internship to both Indian and foreign students at the post-graduate level, the initiative with Newcastle is purely for under-graduate students.

This programme is open to students who have just completed the second year of under-graduate studies. They spend part of their summer vacation working with RBI before returning to their third year studies in September. In giving them this exposure, the B-School’s intention is to prepare them to find employment internationally.

Though the internship is unpaid, interns work on projects in an area of interest within the functional areas of RBI. Foster explained the projects were designed to allow both academic content and practical experience including corporate exposure to help the students develop a sound knowledge of the central banking sector. Students are also allowed to pursue dissertations in these areas in the final year of study should they wish to.

Post the internship, the students present their finding to RBI via a formal presentation. They are also required to submit a report to the school upon their return. In addition, they help the institute promote the programme at Newcastle. Students, too, have given a very positive feedback to the initiative. Nowak, for example, understood how important agriculture is to the people of India and to the growth of the economy, and the help RBI provides to this sector.

Nicholas Pilling, also pursuing economics at the school and a part of this initiative, said: “I have gained insights into how business is conducted in India, and how general culture is so different to that at home. The internship has also given me the confidence to work in an environment where a language barrier is present, as it has shown me that the language of business is all powerful, irrespective of where you are in the world.”

Oliver Morgan Williams, an intern with RBI and an under-graduate student of marketing and management at the school, opined this was an experience that would stick out on his curriculum vitae for years, his early career and help stand out from the crowd in future interviews.

Sharmishta Chatterjee-Banerjee, head of international relations at the business school, said they would be interested in sending more students to India because of the overwhelming interest they had in the RBI programme. “While we will be grateful to RBI for an increased number of opportunities next year, we will also be working actively to seek internships in other companies, too,” she added.

Source: Business Standard, August 13, 2012

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How Indian business leaders are creating Indian Institute of Human Settlements

For modern Indians, the town-planning masterpieces of Mohenjodaro and Harappa built by their ancestors nearly five millennia ago are a distant memory, far removed from the chaotic urban spaces they inhabit in the twenty-first century.

Harking back to the spirit of that hoary accomplishment, a handful of eminent Indians have come together to build an institution dedicated to pedagogy and practice which could help transform and renew the country's cities and towns. Brick by brick, the intellectual and financial foundations of the Indian Institute of Human Settlements (IIHS) are being laid by some of India's most prominent and generous business leaders, academicians and technocrats.

Following a donation of Rs. 50 crore (Rs. 500 million) by Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani and his wife Rohini, the institute has been bestowed with gifts of money from investment banker Hemendra Kothari and Uday Kotak, the Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of Kotak Mahindra Bank.

"We all know India is rapidly urbanising in a very chaotic manner. While one cannot cure all the ills, you can make your own little contribution. That is the basic idea behind this institution," says Chandrasekhar Bhave, the former chairman of securities market regulator - SEBI - who was named the Chairman of IIHS in May.

To be housed on a 55-acre campus in the south Bangalore suburb of Kengeri, IIHS aims to raise around Rs. 400 crore (Rs. 4 billion) from independent donors. Once it wins recognition as a university, it will offer undergraduate, masters and doctoral programmes using an inter-disciplinary approach that has few global parallels.

Housed in Temporary Campuses
"Across the developed world, universities offer only a masters programme in this area but India needs a pool of professionals very much like the BTech graduates from IITs," says Aromar Revi, Director of IIHS. Apart from sustainable environment practices, the specialist schools of study will include governance & policy, economic development, human development and settlements and infrastructure.

The 17-member promoter group, which is providing its services pro bono and has committed Rs. 15 crore (Rs. 150 million) in funding, includes leading lights of Indian business such as Deepak Parekh (HDFC), Jamshyd Godrej (Godrej & Boyce), Kishore Mariwala (Marico), Nasser Munjee (DCB) as well as professionals such as Rakesh Mohan (former RBI deputy governor) and Vijay Kelkar (former finance secretary).

Kothari says he decided to write a cheque for Rs. 10 crore (Rs. 100 million) after conversations with Nilekani and Rahul Mehrotra, professor of urban design at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and one of the promoters of IIHS. "What I have given is just a little portion of what the institute needs," he says.

The DSP Blackrock chairman's munificence will endow a chair in the School of Environment & Sustainability that is named for the Nilekanis and is one of five interdisciplinary schools at the proposed university. Kotak, too, has endowed IIHS.

Set up with a charter of being independently funded, IIHS is a not-for-profit company under Section 25 of the Indian Companies Act. Donors will have no influence on the way the university functions. Nearly three years after it was first seeded as an idea, IIHS is still awaiting the passage of a law which will allow it to apply to become a full-fledged university.

Housed in temporary campuses in New Delhi and Bangalore, IIHS offers brief courses in disciplines such as social venture design. In October this year, it will launch an eight-month course for working professionals in the area of urban development.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), August 13, 2012

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MHRD working towards a common entrance examin for all central universities

Undeterred by the setback to its plans, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) is working towards a common entrance examination for all central universities. At present, there are 42 central universities in the country. The proposed examination was discussed at the vice chancellor's retreat held earlier this month in Chandigarh.

Vice Chancellors' of the central universities have agreed to work towards a common entrance examination for admission to undergraduate programmes. While there is a general agreement that a common entrance examination would benefit students, some of the more established central universities appear to have some concern.

Sources indicated that broadly concerns related to issues such as the scale of the examination, the impact on the quality of students. A limited common entrance test, subscribed to by seven central universities --- Bihar, Jammu, Jharkhand, Kashmir, Kerala, Rajasthan & Tamil Nadu --- is already in existence.

The proposed admission system will give adequate weightage to class XII board examinations to account for subject knowledge. Class XII board examination scores are currently used for determining cut-offs for admission. The proposed common entrance examination would test genral and subject related aptitude through a single test.

The task of preparing a policy document, explaining the proposed examination, the experience of these seven universities and addressing the concerns raised by the vice chancellors, has been entrusted to BP Sanjay, Vice Chancellor of the Central University of Tamil Nadu.

The newly established central universities participating in the existing examination say that their experience has been a good one and that there are no complaints about the quality of intake. However, it is likely that the older central universities like Delhi University might have some reservations about joining in.

The ministry has made it clear that minority central universities like Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and unique universities such as the Indian Maritime University may opt out of participating in the common examination.

The central universities have been asked to take necessary steps to join in the common examination from the next academic session.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), August 13, 2012

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Three years on, IIT-Indore campus gets MoEF nod

Three years after it came into existence, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) at Indore will finally breathe easy — the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) has decided to give forest clearance to the land earmarked for the institute. This will pave the way for the construction of a permanent campus. The elite engineering school’s first batch of students will graduate in less than eight months.

The MoEF has given an “in-principle clearance to IIT Indore campus” but is awaiting a few certificates from the Madhya Pradesh government and the institute for a formal announcement, a ministry official said seeking anonymity. One of the certificates awaited is a so-called mutation certificate — to be issued by the district collector’s office stating that revenue land equal to the forest land diverted for the institute has been demarcated for compensatory afforestation. “It  is expected that the institute will get its final phase II forest clearance in two weeks,” the ministry official said.

IIT-Indore was set up by an act of Parliament along with seven other new IITs during the 11th Five-Year Plan period (2007-12). The institute, which started its operation in 2009, currently functions from two locations — one inside the Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya (University), and the other from a stand-alone building around 20 kms away.

IIT Indore was awarded some 502 acres, including at least 198 acre of forest land. Unless forest land gets clearance from the MoEF, no construction or formal transfer of land can happen. “We have expanded our academic programmes quite a lot and currently are offering both undergraduate and post graduate courses. You would need a permanent campus to expand your courses and student intake,” said Neelesh K. Jain, Dean (Academics) at IIT Indore. “But forest clearance is not something in our hand. We hope it will come very soon.”

Another government official, who, too, did not want to be named, confirmed the decks had been cleared for IIT-Indore to get forest clearance and that it will receive a formal letter in a couple of weeks. The clearance, however, has come at a price. The institute has paid a compensatory amount of Rs. 107 million under a scheme called CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority). This amount will be used to plant trees on land earmarked to compensate for the loss of forest land that’s been diverted for non-forest use.

Pramath Sinha, founding dean of the Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad, said the general perception is that only private institutions face such problems; but, in reality, many state-run institutes, too, face problems from government departments. “In the name of IITs or IIMs (Indian institutes of Management), you are taking students but not giving the IIT or IIM experience both in terms of soft or hard infrastructure. This is sad,” said Sinha, who is opening a private university in Haryana. “Government went in a hurry to open so many institutes for policy sake and vote bank without putting much thought into it.” Currently, India has 16 IITs.

Source: Mint, August 13, 2012

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Thursday, August 09, 2012

Now, B-schools offer specialised courses

Avinash BH, 33, who served in the Indian Navy for 10 years, decided to shift to the corporate world after retiring. He had to first find a relevant course to help him graduate to the next step of his professional life. That’s when the executive management programme for defence personnel at Xavier Labour Relations Institute (XLRI), Jamshedpur, came in handy. He graduated from the course this year.

XLRI is not the only institute offering such niche courses. Realising that mere ‘plain-vanilla MBA courses’ for management professionals have not been adequate, institutes, including Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research (We School), XLRI, UK-based Sheffield Hallam University and Imarticus Learning, have introduced specialised courses to cater to the varied interest of students.

At XLRI, the six-month, full-time programme for defence personnel is partly sponsored by the Directorate General Resettlement, Department of Ex-Servicemen (Ministry of Defence), where the student pays 60 per cent of the fee and the rest by the body. The total cost of the programme is approximately Rs. 140,000. Placement assistance is also offered to students.

“Due to the inherent pyramidal structure, many officers retire at an early age or seek premature retirement from service and opt to side step into a second career. XLRI Jamshedpur has been our partner in providing General Management Programme for Defence officers. It is structured to polish their skills and provide a launch pad for them enter the corporate world,” said Major General Pramod Behl, Director General, Resettlement, on the XLRI website.

Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research (We School) offers an electronic business course for this niche market. Named ‘E-Biz’, this post-graduate diploma in management (E-Business) course has 60 students in their Mumbai campus and 120 students at their Bangalore campus. Uday Salunkhe, Group D
irector, We School said, “There were several IT related courses offered in India, but what the industry wanted was a mix of system knowledge and management education. That is where we fill the gap.” He added that the programme was continuously tweaked and modified to cater to the latest industry needs. We School course fee is Rs. 330,000 per annum for the two-year course, approved by All India Institute for Technical Education (AICTE). Placements are offered to students mainly in e-commerce firms. Salunkhe said some of their students had set up e-commerce ventures after passing out. For example, Librarywala.com was created by some alumni.

Foreign institutions are not lagging behind. UK-based Sheffield Hallam University offers niche courses dedicated to sports engineering and sports business management and offer masters (MSc) programme in these disciplines. The course fee is approximately Rs. 820,000. Though the varsity does not offer placements to the students of this course, each student works with one of the institute’s industrial partners on major research project.

David James, leading sports engineer and science communicator, member of the International Sports Engineering Executive Committee, Sheffield Hallam University, said, “The global sports equipment industry is valued at £200 billion annually and is driven by new research and innovation. The sector requires graduates with a mixture of high level engineering skills and knowledge of sports physiology and biomechanics. This is what our course delivers.”

The university works with several leading international sports brands, such as Adidas and the company also helped the institute develop the course content to enable graduates meet the needs of the industry. The course duration is one year full-time, starting every year in September. There are 20 seats for the MSc sports engineering course. The MSc in sports business management is also of one year duration. James said that in previous years they had a couple of Indian students. “This year we shall have two Indian students. “Further, we are happy to explore partnership opportunities for this course with Indian universities,” he added.

This market has also attracted new players like Imarticus Learning. The institute will launch its niche courses in investment banking this year at its Mumbai campus. These courses will soon be extended to Pune this year and Bangalore at a later date. Sonya Hooja, Director, Imarticus Learning, said as per a report by FICCI, the current human resource requirement in BFSI segment of 4.3 million is expected to reach 8.5 million by 2022. “Investment banking being at the top of the BFSI pyramid, we chose to initiate our journey with this sector. It’s an attractive career choice that is currently inaccessible to many due to lack of awareness,” she said.

Imarticus Learning will introduce two courses — certified investment banking IT professional, and certified investment banking operations professional — in September this year. Course fee for the certified investment banking operations professional course is Rs. 85,000, while for the certified investment banking IT professional (CIBIT) it is Rs. 125,000. Placement assistance will also be provided.

Industry players, however, caution students to carefully select courses, especially when it comes to niche ones. “These courses may sound exciting, but one needs to make sure that one is able to secure a job. Students should identify whether the course they wish to join gives a good return on investment,” said an education-sector consultant requesting anonymity.

Source: Business Standard, August 9, 2012

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Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Get AUD $90,000 to do a PhD in Australia

The Australians are out hunting for the best Indian brains. A grant of AUD $90,000 each is being offered to top academic performers who want to do a PhD and take advantage of the excellent research facilities in that country. This is the second round of the Victoria India Doctoral Scholarships announced by the state government of Victoria, in collaboration with the Australia India Institute.

If you have been a consistent grade-A student, have a great research proposal and have demonstrated leadership qualities, you can apply for your PhD to the Australian Catholic University, Deakin, La Trobe, Monash, RMIT, Swinburne, and the universities of Melbourne, Ballarat and Victoria and get selected for the award. Seen as a good move, the awards are also expected to create greater awareness among Indian students about academic opportunities in Australia. The country had been at the receiving end of bad press following incidents of violence against Indians there.

An increase of 30% in Indian student applications compared to last year in Victoria has put a positive spin on things. Nationally, too, says Australian High Commissioner Peter Varghese, “We have seen a 16% increase in applications. These are the figures till the end of March (2012) and have come up after three years of sharply declining numbers. So I think what we are beginning to see now is a turnaround in the trend line for applications from India.”

Commenting on the first round of the scholarships, Geoffrey Conaghan, Victorian government Commissioner to India, says, “We got such fantastic Indian scholars that the premier of Victoria said we should do it again and the announcement was made as part of the Super Trade Mission (to India) in February 2012. There are 10 PhD research scholarships on offer, which are funded by the Victorian government for up to AUD $90,000 each, which means AUD $30,000 for a year. The universities have also agreed to waive all fees, which adds up to an additional AUD $30,000 a year – so it totals to about AUD$180,000 each.”

The scholarships will be awarded on merit in any field of study which can be as diverse as archaeology or mathematics or history or politics. A three-stage process leads to the award, says Prof. Amitabh Mattoo, Director, Australia India Institute, which is managing the award with the Victorian government. At the first stage, candidates can apply to one of the nine universities mentioned or through the Australia India Institute’s website (www.aii.unimelb.edu.au) or the Victorian Government Website (www.studymelbourne.vic.gov.au) from August 1 onwards, indicating that they want to be considered for the scholarships. Stage two is when the university admits the candidate and nominates him or her for one of the 10 scholarships. Eighteen scholars will then be short-listed. In the third and final stage, a selection committee comprising experts from the universities and officials from the Victorian government will draw up a list of 10 scholars on the basis of their academic qualifications and the strength of their research proposals.

Source: Hindustan Times, August 8, 2012
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MHRD not to push for Foreign Educational Institutions Bill

The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has decided not to push the legislation allowing foreign education institutions to set up base in India in the Monsoon Session of Parliament. Instead, the ministry is focusing on the troika of higher education reform bills --- prevention of malpractices, setting up education tribunals and mandatory accreditation for institutions --- which form the core of Kapil Sibal's higher education reform agenda.

The human resource development minister Kapil Sibal's decision to put the Foreign Educational Institutions Bill on the back burner is in line with the strategy adopted in the Budget session—move ahead with the less contentious bills to create a momentum. In the past, Sibal has pushed the Foreign Educational Institutions Bill as central to increasing opportunities and improving quality of the higher education sector. However, the minister is well aware that a bill as contentious as one, which allows foreign education institutions to set up campuses in India, could well derail his entire legislative agenda.
There are seven Bills that are pending in Parliament. The ministry proposes to introduce two more --- the Indian Institutes of Information Technology Bill and the Central Board of Secondary Education --- in the Monsoon Session.

After nearly two years of legislative setbacks, Sibal managed to break the logjam in the Budget session of parliament and ensured passage of six Bills. While most of these Bills were non-controversial amendments, it did include the contentious Copyright Amendment Bill. Sibal is keen not to upset the hard won equilibrium.

The Foreign Educational Institutions Bill predates Sibal's tenure in Shastri Bhavan. It was first cleared by Cabinet in 2008 during the late Arjun Singh's tenure in the UPA-I government. The proposed legislation could not be introduced given the opposition by the Left, which was then supporting the UPA-I government. Following his appointment as human resource development minister, Sibal went ahead with the legislation reaching out to stakeholders, and meeting with top administrators of top ranking universities in the US and UK.

But it is not just the Left or the BJP that has issues with the Bill. Even political parties that are supporting the UPA, such as the Samajwadi Party and RJD, are uncomfortable with the idea of allowing foreign education institutions to set up campuses in India. Given that the legislation is viewed as permitting foreign direct investment in higher education, it is unlikely that allies like Trinamool Congress and DMK will lend their support to such legislation. Clearly aware that the legislative route was difficult, the government gave the University Grants Commission (UGC) the go ahead through the executive route. The University Grants Commission has already issued guidelines to regulate collaborations between Indian and foreign institutions.

The focus is on the three legislations that form the bedrock of Sibal's higher education reforms --- Higher Educational Institutions Bill (earlier known as the Prohibition of Unfair Practices Bill), Educational Tribunal Bill and the National Accreditation Regulatory Authority for Higher Educational Institutions Bill.

These legislations form a higher education reform triad, and were conceived of as linked legislations. However, with the Rajya Sabha not passing the educational tribunal bill, the remaining two legislations could not be taken up. The ministry has decided to delink these legislations. This will mean removing cross-references.

Changes have been made to the bills on the basis of inputs from MPs during the discussions Sibal held with them to garner support. Some of the changes are on the basis of recommendations of the Standing Committee. A clear measure of Sibal's keeness to push through his pending Bills is evident from the fact that many these changes are clearly trivial or routine, and as such make no material difference to the legislation. Similarly other efforts have also been made to reach out to MPs. The minister has recently approved increasing the MP's quota in Kendriya Vidyalayas (Central Schools) from two seats to six. Sibal had earned the displeasure of MPs when he abolished the quota early on in his tenure.

Sibal has also been meeting with leaders of the opposition, allies and UPA supporters to ensure safe passage for his Bills. These meetings have been with individual leaders as well as small groups of MPs who are seen as vocal on education related issues. Sources close to the developments said that the minister and officials sought to address each of the issues, through careful reading and threadbare discussion on the bills, in an effort to allay apprehensions of the political parties. Legislations to curb malpractices and mandatory accreditation are likely to be passed without much trouble. The minister is expected to hold additional meetings with allies and party members on the tribunal bill, which had been opposed by Congress members in the Rajya Sabha.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), August 8, 2012
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