Thursday, September 27, 2012

Spurt in demand for PG engineering courses

Contrary to popular perception, the engineering education segment seems to be doing well. In the past year, the number of seats in postgraduate (PG) engineering institutes has swelled 160 per cent and there is a 100 per cent year-on-year growth in the number of new PG engineering institutes.

According to data by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the country’s technical education regulator, as many as 888 seats were added in 2012-13, compared to 342 in the previous year.
Ten postgraduate institutes were opened in 2012-13, against five last year. The new institutes were opened in Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, which got two new PG engineering institutes each, and Kerala, where one institute was opened.

Industry observers say the sudden expansion in PG engineering seats is to meet the spurt in the number of students applying for such courses as numerous faculty vacancies exist across engineering colleges in these states.

In Andhra Pradesh, for instance, as many as 71,045 students applied for the PG Engineering Common Entrance Examination (PGECET) this year against 36,000 students a year ago. Besides, according to a new AICTE directive, faculty at engineering should have the minimum qualification of a postgraduate degree. Until last year, these teaching posts were largely filled with B Tech graduates.

According to industry experts, the number of students opting for postgraduate studies had come down by nearly 50 per cent over the past two decades, resulting in an acute faculty shortage in a number of education institutions. In the next academic year, in Andhra Pradesh alone, more than 700 engineering colleges will have about 70,000 posts to fill.

The new-found interest in PG engineering education is also due to the fact that from next year, even private engineering colleges will offer the sixth pay commission salaries for teaching positions. This means a basic salary of Rs. 36,000 at the entry level.

On the other hand, five PG engineering colleges shut down in 2012-13, against seven in 2011-12. The seat loss due to this stood at 342 in 2012-13, compare to 576 in 2011-12.

The Flip Side
It is a different picture for management education and under-graduate engineering. In 2012-13, the number of management institutes opened were 82, compared to 146 last year — adding 7,740 seats to the pool against 14,340 seats last year.

The number of management institutes closed this year stood at 101 against 124 last year. The number of seats lost this, however, were 6,090 against 5,602 last year.

“Opening and closing of institutes has become a game. Approval of institutes has become a racket in the country and AICTE needs to go beyond its fascination for approving management and engineering institutions left, right and centre,” says the director of a Delhi-based B-school ranked among top 10 B-schools in the country.

“AICTE’s role is a holistic one. But they are, instead, playing the role of a regulator. AICTE has forgotten its job of making technical education qualitative. AICTE keeps adding seats even when the market does not need more seats. Thus, professional education in the country is suffering,” the B-school director adds.

In the under-graduate engineering segment, about 95 engineering institutes were opened this year, against 178 last year. While the number of institutes shut down this year stood at 12 against 28 last year, the number of seats lost was 2,710 this year against 9,835 last year. The number of seats added in under-graduate engineering stood at 27,060 seats against 51,900 seats in 2011-12.

Source: Business Standard, September 27, 2012
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Dale Carnegie Training to expand India presence

Dale Carnegie Training is set to expand its presence in India. The company, noted for corporate training and skill training for students and faculty of institutes, is looking to offer more programmes to its users and forge additional partnerships in the country.

Dale Carnegie is already operating in India. It has been running a finishing school in the country since 2007. The company has also worked with educational institutions for student training and faculty training. “Since 2006, we have trained nearly 27,000 faculty and about 30,000 students,” says Peter Handal, Chairman & CEO, Dale Carnegie Training.

Handal says the company is looking at expanding its corporate world programmes in India. The thrust will be on digital training. He adds that the firm will concentrate on live online training and interactive programmes. The online programmes cover areas such as information technology (IT), IT-enabled services, BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance) and telecom, says Pallavi Jha, Managing Director of Dale Carnegie Training India.

Dale Carnegie has a tie-up with the Sullivan University in the US to offer joint certificate programmes. The individual courses are tailored to meet specific needs of learners. The courses include IT training, sales training, small business management, and conflict management, among others. The course process occurs within two components. The first comprises two Dale Carnegie courses being offered locally in a physical classroom environment. The second component has three courses, which are delivered online through Sullivan University’s Global e-Learning initiative.

The company claims the online courses will have the same quality as the regular courses and the curriculum is also the same. For online students, assignments, tests and discussions are accessed through an e-Learning portal. Due dates are still assigned to keep students on track, but students still have more flexibility, when it comes to completing course-work and discussions.

According to Jha, Dale Carnegie will bring all its modules to India. Dale Carnegie has partnerships with a few institutes in India which run Dale Carnegie finishing schools in their campus. Professors from these institutes are given prior training and they have to appear an examination to qualify to be a trainer in these in-house finishing schools. Existing ties include partnership with Meghe Group of Institutions in Nagpur. Jha says that Dale Carnegie will be forging many more such alliances with institutes in tie-2 cities in India this year.

On the corporate training side, Handal says that that employee-engagement programmes have been the focus for companies. Programmes on communication skills and presentation are also in demand. “The demand for corporate training is very high in developing nations like India than the western countries. This is because firms here are expanding rapidly and need training to support their workforce,” he says.

Handal divulges that the company is also working with small and medium businesses (SMBs) to provide sales and other training to deal with domestic and international clients. However, the traction here is slower in terms of SMB training, compared to regions such as the US, Europe and South America.

Dale Carnegie is looking to have a 30-35 per cent growth in their finishing school business this year. In addition, it is aiming for a 20 to 25 per cent growth in its overall revenues. About 75-80 per cent of the company’s business comes from corporate training. The rest comes from finishing schools.

Source: Business Standard, September 27, 2012
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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

New qualifying criteria dashes hopes of many NET aspirants

The high hopes with which a majority of candidates appeared for the UGC’s National Eligibility Test (NET) in June after a change in the question paper pattern have come crashing after the publication of results earlier this week. For the first time, NET was conducted in objective mode for all three papers in two sessions. Till then, the third paper in descriptive format was not favoured by many. However, the relief over replacement of the descriptive format with multiple-choice questions has turned out to be short-lived.

The adoption of new qualifying criteria by the UGC (University Grants Commission) has denied thousands of candidates an opportunity for lectureship in universities and colleges. The candidates blame the UGC for coming out with a last minute specification that an aggregate of 65 per cent in three papers was necessary for qualification for general category candidates. The qualifying minimum was fixed at 60 and 55 per cent for OBC and SC/ST/visually challenged/physically challenged categories.

While the NET notification stated that the scores of only those candidates who score the minimum specified marks would be considered for the preparation of result, the UGC’s new criteria for qualification required candidates in general, OBC, and SC/ST/VC/PC categories to post minimum scores (out of 350 — 100 marks each for first and second paper, and 150 marks for third paper) of 227.5, 210, and 192.5 respectively.

So far, corresponding scores of 155, 138 and 130 were accepted as passing minimum for the three categories of candidates. The NET notification stated: “Only such candidates who obtain the minimum required marks in each paper separately, as mentioned above, will be considered for final preparation of result. However, the final qualifying criteria for Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) and Eligibility for Lectureship shall be decided by UGC before declaration of result.”

The candidates are shocked. “The result has caused depression. My efforts have gone in vain,” lamented Gajendran, an Assistant Professor, who felt confident about clearing NET this year, after many attempts over a decade. His overall score of 188 did not measure up to UGC’s new criteria. Had the UGC struck to the pattern of passing minimum it had been following so far, the pass percentage would have increased manifold, said Vijayalakshmi, a professor in a private college.

While NET/SET is the minimum eligibility for recruitment and appointment of assistant professors in universities/ colleges/ institutions, candidates with Ph.D. in accordance with UGC Regulations 2009, are exempted from clearing this examination.

But, with Ph.D. turning out to be costly and time-consuming, candidates usually devote their attention to clearing NET first before pursuing Ph.D. Hence, their disappointment is only natural, according to S. Iyyampillai, Professor of Economics in Bharathidasan University, Tiruchi, who has vast experience in training candidates for NET/SET

Candidates across the country who have not passed the NET due to the “last minute” changes in the eligibility norms have planned to get their acts together for legal recourse, Ms. Vijayalakshmi said.

Source: The Hindu, September 25, 2012
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Monday, September 24, 2012

Medical Council of India approves 3-and-a-half-year medical course

The Medical Council of India (MCI) has finally cleared introduction of the three-and-a-half-year long medical course. Calling it BSc in Community Health, it will be open to anybody after class 12. Speaking to TOI, MCI board chairman Dr K K Talwar said this special cadre of health workers will be trained mainly in district hospitals, be placed in sub-centres or primary health centres and will be taught "some module of clinical work".

This means this cadre can actually diagnose and treat basic medical cases, get involved in immunization programmes and administer extended first aid. "We intend to introduce the course from April next year. This cadre will also refer patients according to their condition to other centres. We have also prepared the syllabus of the course. The ministry will now take the final call," Dr Talwar said.

Health secretary P K Pradhan has called a high level meeting on Tuesday to finalize the proposal. The Planning Commission's high level expert group has strongly backed the all new health cadre and said that as a career progression incentive, they should be promoted to the level of public health officers after 10 years of service.

The health ministry has been strongly pushing for the introduction of this cadre, in order to tackle the menace of doctors unwilling to serve in rural areas. Only 26% of doctors in India reside in rural areas, serving 72% of India's population. The urban density of doctors is nearly four times that of rural areas, and that of nurses is three times higher.

Things have taken a turn for the worse in the past few decades with the disappearance of certain cadres — village health guides and traditional birth attendants, first instituted in 1986. Experts said the selection of students would be based on merit in the Class 12 examination with physics, chemistry and biology as subjects.

Health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had earlier said that he wanted an MCI stamp on the degree so that it was universally recognized. "The syllabus of the course is also ready and is need-based. If MCI endorses it, students will get the confidence that the degree has a standing," he had said.

The panel, however, was clear that the course was not a mini-MBBS but rather a unique training programme aimed at the basic health care needs of its target population.

Source: The Times of India, September 24, 2012
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Industries may soon get a role in higher education

India is preparing to involve industries in higher education in an effort to boost both research and employability. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) expects this will, in addition to employability, solve issues related to land availability and finance. In return, the government will give industries independence and fast-track regulatory clearances for opening institutes that will focus on research specific to industry requirements.

The ministry, in association with lobby group Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), has invited 17 government departments and ministries and nearly 60 companies to a two-day conference in Delhi that will begin on Monday, according to a ministry concept note that Mint has reviewed.

“If we reach an agreement, then we don’t have to go to Parliament and it will be more of a ministry-level decision to engage industry in higher education,” said S.S. Mantha, Chairman of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the regulator in the higher education sector for technical institutes and a part of the HRD ministry. “Through the conference we want to understand what the industry requires on regulatory front. We will try to accommodate that.”

Shalini Sharma, head of the education wing at CII, said companies are open to the idea and want to know “what the government is offering”. The exercise will fast-track industry involvement and is a positive for higher education, Sharma said, particularly as research needs to pick up in the country and should happen in sync with industry demand. “The government cannot do everything by its own. Once the industry participates, issues like land and finance will be taken care of easily,” said Mantha.

Mantha said involving the industry will promote theme-based research and innovation during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-17). This will “stimulate discussion between industry players and ministries” on setting up institutes that will focus on specific research and enter into twinning and collaborative programmes with other universities and research organizations, he said.

Such institutes should admit trained people across disciplines to do research, leading to the award of doctoral degrees in sectors ranging from water to chemicals, urban development to manufacturing, and energy and mines, the concept note underlined.

The MHRD will function as the nodal agency for setting up such institutes, it said. Higher education reform has been left cold the past couple of years, but the government has given education a priority sector tag for the 12th Five-Year Plan period that began on 1 April 2012.

Several proposed legislations related to higher education, including the foreign university Bill, education tribunal Bill, education malpractice Bill and accreditation Bill are pending in Parliament.

Source: Mint, September 24, 2012
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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Alumni open purse to help IIT-Delhi build research schools

The highly successful alumni of Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi (IIT-D) have pumped in millions of dollars to the alma mater since it was established in 1961, helping the institute look beyond government funding for several ambitious research projects.

Currently, two complexes are being built in IIT-Delhi with 100 per cent alumni funding and the foundation for another one was laid recently to boost the institute’s research prospects. The first is Amarnath and Shashi Khosla School of Information Technology, named after parents of IIT-Delhi alumnus and US-based venture capitalist Vinod Khosla.

Khosla, a BTech in Electrical Engineering from IIT-Delhi, co-founded Sun Microsystems along with his Stanford classmates in 1982. Dean of Alumni Affairs Ambuj Sagar said Khosla has provided $5 million for construction of the building and for research work to be taken up there. “The complex will be ready in the next six months,” Dean of Infrastructure Ashok Gupta said. It will be for inter-disciplinary, goal-oriented research, and also serve as an innovation centre for post-graduate education in information technology.

Kusuma School of Biological Sciences, funded by alumnus Anurag Dikshit through the UK-based Kusuma Trust, named after his mother, is another project coming up on the campus. The trust has said to have contributed more than £5 million to build the school. Dean of Infrastructure Gupta said Rs. 100 million has already been released for the building, while the rest would be utilised for setting up research laboratories within the facility. The project mission is to promote research by “interfacing modern biology with applied engineering sciences to address problems affecting human health and welfare, and training scholars to be the next generation scientists”.

Patanjali Keswani, Managing Director of Lemon Tree Hotels and an IIT-Delhi alumnus, recently announced Rs. 200 million for GH Keswani Research Centre at the institute. Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal laid the foundation of the project, which will be built in an area of approximately 130,000 square feet. It will reserved for research facilities for students.

IIT-Delhi has so far produced over 30,000 engineers, technologists, scientists, managers and entrepreneurs. Over the years, this rich roll-call has helped the institute financially and logistically take up several alumni-funded projects.

Source: The Indian Express, September 23, 2012
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IIT Bombay-incubated firm gets Rs. 25 million from VCs

Covacsis, a three-year-old start-up, has secured venture capital funding of Rs. 2.5 crore (Rs. 25 million) from Blume Ventures, India Venture Partners (IVP) and a European fund. Incubated in the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B), it helps manufacturing companies measure floor economics in real time. Tarun Mishra, founder and promoter, said, "The bridge financing will give wings to our international plans." With manufacturing changing and companies looking at new ways of managing it, Covacsis' technology helps companies convert operational data into real-time financial numbers, he added.

Blume Ventures provides seed funding to the range of $50K-$250K to early-stage tech-focused/tech-enabled ventures. “We fundamentally believe input cost efficiencies, whether it translates into energy or productivity, is the key for the next 10 years in the global markets. Covacsis has got everything to become a leader in the space of transforming microeconomics of production floor," said Karthik Reddy, founder, Blume.

According to IVP Chief Navneet Gosal, through its initial set of customers, Covacsis has generated traction via a proven use of its technology. "Covacsis has developed unique and interesting technology in the shop floor intelligence space. We believe the capital investment in Covacsis can help the business scale across manufacturing and production industries in India.”

Covacsis, which serves Sun Pharma, Ipca Labs, Cipla, Godrej Industries, Tata Chemicals, Welspun, Raymond and Ruby Mills in pharma, chemical and textile, plans to expand its bouquet of services to companies in the automobile, steel, oil and gas and FMCG segment too. “Covacsis' solution makes the operator and chief executive talk in the financial language,” said Pranay Godha, executive director, Ipca Labs.

Mishra, 38, started Covacsis with a seed capital of Rs. 2 million in 2003. He gave up his job as the business head of financial product of a Canadian company, after working for four years, to give shape to his entrepreneurial dreams.

Covacsis built a solution called ‘real time production measurement & diagnostics (RTPM), which helps organisations avoid inevitable changes on the production floor. While shop-floor managers may miss the intermittent breakdowns and millions of reprocessing and utilities cost fluctuations, etc, which affects the product quality and plant efficiency on the floor, Covacsis’ RTPD helps the management understand the impact of each and every incident on the top-line and bottom-line and respond to such incidents in the shortest possible time.

Mishra’s company has been incubating at IIT-B’s Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship for the past three years. IIT-B takes a minority stake of four-five per cent in each of the firm that incubates on its campus. Once the company gets funding, IIT-B would liquidate part of its holding. Mishra now plans to buyback IIT-B's stake.

With a team of 33 executives, Covacsis aspires to become a Rs. 1-billion company in valuation in less than 36 months. Covacsis has aggressive non-linear growth strategy said Tarun. The company plans to go in for second round of funding next year to the tune of $5.5-6 million.

Source: Business Standard, September 23, 2012
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UK to help students hit by LMU licence revocation

The United Kingdom (UK) has set up a task force to help international students affected by the revocation of London Metropolitan University (LMU)’s licence. A £2-million fund has also been set up to help legitimate foreign students at LMU bear the extra costs in securing admission to other institutions. Recently, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) had revoked LMU’s sponsor licence, owing to “systematic failures”. The move affected about 2,000 students from several countries, including India.

“A task force has been set up in the UK to assist genuine students affected by the decision to revoke London Metropolitan University’s sponsor licence. The task force comprises the Higher Education Funding Council for England, Universities UK, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the UK Border Agency and the National Union of Students. This is working with London Metropolitan University to support genuine students to find another education provider, with whom to continue their studies,” a UKBA spokesperson stated, replying to an emailed query.

“A fund of £2 million has also been established to help legitimate foreign students at London Met who face extra costs as a result of transferring to another institution. Genuine students currently studying at London Met (London Metropolitan University) do not need to take any immediate action. The UK Border Agency would write to them after October 1. They would then have 60 days to make a new student application to study at another education institution, or to arrange to leave the UK. The 60 days would start from the date the UK Border Agency contacts the student,” the spokesperson added.

A sponsor’s licence may be revoked due to various reasons, including concern an education provider is not fulfiling its sponsorship responsibilities related to admitting international students. Since 2010, the UK Border Agency has revoked the licences of over 500 Tier-IV education sponsors. Of these only one was for a university—LMU.

“The problems and this decision affect only one university, London Metropolitan University, not the whole sector. As on date, no other university has had the licence to bring international (non-EU) students suspended or revoked. Britain welcomes all legitimate international students wishing to benefit from the high quality education provided in the UK. There is no cap on their numbers,” the UKBA stated.

UK has four of the world’s top 10 universities, with about 430,000 students from non-EU counties (about 30,000 Indian students), accounting for about 14 per cent of students in the UK.

Source: Business Standard, September 23, 2012
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To tap into college talent, plans afoot for varsity sports leagues

Hoping to tap into sporting talent among college students like the US, the government is set to announce national-level university cricket and hockey leagues. Sponsorship has already been lined up for the 20/20 format cricket league and the International Hockey Federation-aligned hockey league that may be launched as early as February 2013, sources said.

At the recent Olympics, 450 members of the American contingent were university students. Hoping to make a similar impact, the Human Resource Development Ministry is planning a respectable prize money and public exposure for the leagues.

The Association of Indian Universities (AIU) that already holds the annual inter-university Rohinton Baria cricket tournament will partner with NDTV for the leagues. A three-day event, the Rohinton Baria tournament has thrown up a fair share of well-known cricketers such as Dilip Sardesai, Chetan Chauhan and Sandeep Patil.

Attempts are also on at the BCCI level to revive the Vizzy Trophy, the annual inter-zonal university tournament, that produced cricketers such as Kapil Dev. While the BCCI is said to have been consulted by the AIU, the plan is to organise the cricket league outside its fold.

The 2012 Olympics triggered deliberations on need to encourage varsity-level contribution to national and international sports. NDTV then came to the HRD Ministry with an offer to sponsor an inter-university cricket event, which was later expanded to hockey.

“We are planning the new university sporting leagues as big events that will not only generate interest in sports across Indian universities but also give a platform to talented youngsters,” HRD Minister Kapil Sibal told The Sunday Express.

The planned format includes north, south, east and west zones contesting against each other in cricket as well as hockey. The top two from each of the zones will play in the national leagues.

AIU traces its history back to 1925 when then Viceroy of India, Lord Reading, took the initiative to bring all universities on a common platform. It covers traditional universities, open universities, professional universities, institutes of national importance and deemed-to-be universities.

Source: The Indian Express, September 23, 2012
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Saturday, September 22, 2012

9,000 more CAT registrations this year

In what could be seen as a positive pointer to the demand for postgraduate management education in the country, the number of registrations for the Common Admission Test (CAT) 2012 has gone up by 9,000 from last year.

According to the preliminary registration data made available by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and Prometric (IIMs’ partner in developing and delivering CAT 2012), as many as 214,000 vouchers were sold by the time the registration closed at midnight on September 19. This is 4 per cent above the 2011 figure of 205,000.

CAT 2012 for admissions to the IIMs will be held from October 11 to November 6. It will be coordinated by IIM-Kozhikode. The release quoted CAT 2012 convener S.S.S. Kumar as saying, “Registration numbers have increased slightly over last year, which is a positive indication that postgraduate management programmes at the IIMs and other prestigious B-schools that accept CAT scores still offer an attractive future to many aspirants.”

Female candidates
The registration of female candidates has also gone up this year — 28 per cent of registrations are of female candidates, 1 per cent up from last year. However, not moving away from previous trends, the cities in which the highest numbers of candidates are scheduled to take the test are New Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Pune. The full report on registration data is expected to be available from October 5.

“View test day video”
Soumitra Roy, Nanaging Director of Prometric India, said in the release: “We have a team of Candidate Care representatives providing additional support for unique needs like special testing accommodation. It is important that all candidates bring the right documents and turn up punctually at the right place. I encourage all candidates to view the test day video that is available on the CAT website to familiarise themselves with the test day procedures.”

The test comprises two sections — each of 70-minute duration. There will be 30 questions in each section which are to test quantitative ability and data interpretation, verbal ability and logical reasoning.

Source: The Hindu, September 22,2012
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Education loans: Banks told to set up grievance redress mechanism

The Finance Ministry has asked public sector banks to put in place a three-tier grievance redressal mechanism to sort out problems being faced by students in obtaining education loans. Banks have also been asked to make education loan applicants aware of the mechanism — at the branch, zonal office and head-office levels — at the time of submission of loan application.

Besides, the ministry wants banks to introduce a system of review by the next higher authority where application for education loan is rejected. These directives come in the wake of the Finance Minister’s observation that students wanting to get education loans were facing a number of problems.

Problem areas
The problems being faced by students include bank managers insisting on service area approach (SAA) in Kerala and Tamil Nadu; and refusing loan to management quota candidates and to students pursuing B.Sc (Nursing) in Kerala. Further, at times, managers reject education loan applications without any valid reasons.

A bank-wide committee headed by T. M. Bhasin, Chairman and Managing Director, Indian Bank, has decided to write to the lead banks in Kerala (Canara Bank) and Tamil Nadu (Indian Overseas Bank) to ensure that bank branches do not reject any education loan application merely because a village has been allocated to another bank branch.

Merit-based selection
The committee is of the view that a student who qualifies on the basis of merit but chooses to pursue a course under management quota for reasons of proximity or choice of discipline deserved to be reckoned as a meritorious student.

For assessment of limits in such cases, it has been decided to consider the fee fixed by the State Government or a Government-approved regulatory body for admission to payment seats under the common admission process. Keeping this in view, the eligibility criteria would be suitably modified in the Indian Banks’ Association’s (IBA) education loan scheme.

Nursing courses
In the case of nursing courses, the committee is of the view that regular degree/diploma courses approved by the Indian Nursing Council may be considered for loans by banks.

Banks’ feedback
Banks have given feedback to the Ministry that they have put in place systems and procedures to bring to the notice of the student community about the procedure for getting education loan. They have also provided details of the officials to be contacted for any queries/complaints in regard to the loan. urther, most of the banks are providing online facility for submission/sanction of loans which will reduce complaints to a great extent.

Source: The Hindu Business Line, September 22, 2012
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Thursday, September 20, 2012

IITs unfazed at not making it to global university rankings

Indian universities, for the second time in a row, failed to make it to the top 200 institutes in the QS World University Rankings, but they are not losing sleep over it. The institutes say though they have not featured in the top 200, they certainly figure in the top 50 in their respective areas of specialisation. For instance, the Indian Institute of Science and the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) might have slipped several notches to rank below 200, but all of them figure in the top 50 engineering and technology institutes internationally.

Agrees Danny Byrne, editor of Topuniversities.com. “Despite not having a single university in the top 200 in the overall rankings, India’s concerted focus on engineering and technology is reflected in the appearance of IIT Bombay in the top 50.”

IITs Business Standard spoke to said they were not going to change any policies to improve their international rankings. “Ranking is not everything. No institution works merely to improve their ranking. We are doing things to give good experiences to our students and to do more research, and this is going on. Things other than these are only a byproduct,” said Devang Khakhar, Director, IIT Bombay.

IIT Bombay slipped two positions this year to rank at 227. Its peer, IIT Delhi, figures at 212th position, up six positions compared to the previous year. IIT Kanpur is at 278th position. “When you look at criterion like academic reputation or employer reputation, the IITs are doing well. What the IITs can really look at improving is the citation and faculty-student ratio,” said a professor at IIT Delhi. Khakhar agrees: “One has to take everything in context. The budget that international institutes have, IITs do not have. Certainly, rankings will go up if there is more investment, but this is not the whole idea.”

QS World University Rankings are based on data covering four key areas of concern for students, namely research, employability, teaching and internationalisation. Internationalisation has been identified as a major issue with the institutes in India. “We see India once again underperforming, with only 11 universities in the ranking, the vast majority of which are various IITs. Internationalisation has been identified as a key issue,” said the rankings. IITs, however, say internationalisation is not high on their agenda. “Foreign faculty and foreign students will improve, but not much, as our resources are focused on providing good education to Indian students,” said Professor Khakhar. Besides, IITs says they are not a university but a sub-set, and if one looks at what is their forte, they are not doing badly, given the investments.

Industry experts believe lack of awareness is a major reason for Indian institutes’ poor performance. Narayanan Ramaswamy, head of education practice at consultancy major KPMG, said several universities did not even participate in this process due to lack of awareness and did not give adequate information when asked for it. “The issue here is, we do not even have people to validate the necessary information when institutes are contacted by the authorities concerned,” he added. Ramaswamy said there was still a long distance for Indian universities to cover in terms of rigour of research and publication. “I hope the rankings have a positive influence on the institutions here to improve their performance,” he said. Experts said Indian institutes have to improve factors like internationalisation, emphasis on research faculty and incentivised research to be featured among the top institutes of the world.

“World rankings lay huge emphasis on research and research output. This is what Indian institutions lack. Though institutions like the IITs rank well in engineering disciplines, we do not have multi-disciplinary universities undertaking world-class research in the full range of disciplines. This is why they do not feature among the top universities in the world,” said Nikhil Sinha, vice-chancellor, Shiv Nadar University. QS says several young universities — such as the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST); Korea’s KAIST and POSTECH, which are certainly younger than the IITs — are raising millions of funds to fuel their growth and help build state-of-the-art laboratories and facilities. Nanyang Technological University (NTU) spent Singaporean $830 million in sustainability research. HKUST’s budget for research in 2009-2010 was Hong Kong $426 million, and KAIST has set a goal to raise one trillion won by 2013 for various academic advancement programmes.

The research currently considers over 2,000 universities, and ranks over 700. The top 400 are ranked individually, whereas those placed 401 and over are ranked in groups. Though some of the IITs have been around for about 50 years, they still need a lot to do in terms of research and to be financially independent. The fact that international university NTU can break the world top 60, just 20 years after it was established, certainly means Indian institutes can and do the same. Hope, the IITs are listening.

Source: Business Standard, September 20, 2012
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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

New IIMs turn to branding before placement season

To compete with their older, better-established peers, new Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are using marketing and branding tactics to attract recruiters in the placement season — an effort that management manuals would perhaps liken to a survival strategy.

Weeks before the placements begin, three of the six new IIMs — in Rohtak, Raipur and Kashipur — have conducted conferences to bring top human resources (HR) executives to their campuses. A fourth one — in Ranchi — is hosting a similar conference next week. The locations of the other two new IIMs are Udaipur and Tiruchirapalli.

“Currently, IIM-Kashipur is not on the map. We have to tell the industry that it is on the horizon now. It will help branding of the new institute and of course help in placement,” said K. M. Baharul Islam, a Professor and Chairman of Administration at the new IIM. The first batch of graduates from the institute will enter the job market this year, he said, explaining that such an effort “will create awareness and goodwill among the HR top brass” towards students of the B-school.

Currently, there are 13 IIMs, including the six new ones, which opened in 2010-11. The seven older IIMs are located in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Indore, Kozhikode, Lucknow and Shillong, and have been in existence for longer and are therefore, more familiar to recruiters who descend on their campuses yearly for choosing new management hires.

For the newer B-schools, marketing themselves is “crucial as HR is an important link in the placement process,” said Ajith P., a professor at IIM-Rohtak. “Through such events, we try to establish the relationship better.” Both experts and the B-schools say the competition for jobs is set to increase among the IIMs because their number has almost doubled since 2010. The placement season typically starts in November and runs through March.

Marketing and branding events enable the newer IIMs to “showcase their college and the students to the corporate house before the placement season,” said Amit Khurana, former executive vice-president and head of human capital at Yes Bank Ltd. “They want to capture a certain market share and mindspace of these HR leaders.” When a company decides to recruit in B-schools, its thoughts typically first turn to the IIMs in Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Kolkata, followed by the remaining among the older lot of elite B-schools, said Khurana. That gives the newer IIMs little option but to hard-sell themselves. “Now, they have very less students. They have to increase the student strength and it will be a little difficult to place them in a competitive market. So what they have started this year is basically a survival strategy,” explained Khurana, who now runs his own HR firm and has participated in at least two of the conferences.

India has some 3,500 B-schools, but only the top 30-35 including the IIMs, attract leading businesses for recruitment.

With little research happening in B-schools, placements become a yardstick of their brand value. Last year, around 60 management schools sought the technical education regulator’s permission to shut shop because of their poor admission and placement records. While placements are certainly a key driver, the new IIMs say that during the initial years, marketing efforts also give their students and faculty exposure to the demands of the recruiters. “It helps get feedback to improve curricula and exposure for faculties,” said Islam of IIM Kashipur.

Ankit Sharma, a student of IIM-Raipur, said many of his classmates don’t have work experience and the interaction with potential employers is valuable. “After the conference, we have grown friendly with some HR heads who came to the campus. They work as mentors in a sense (from) thereon,” Sharma said.

Source: Mint, September 19, 2012
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Monday, September 17, 2012

Enrolment ratio in PG courses only 12%: UGC Chairman

University Grants Commission’s (UGC) Acting Chairman Prof. Ved Prakash has said only 12 per cent of graduates are seeking admission to postgraduate (PG) courses in various universities and institutions in the country and there are glaring regional imbalances in the enrolment of students in higher education. He was speaking at the 5th National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) accreditation ceremony. Prof. Prakash said only 1 per cent of postgraduate students enrol for research programme in various fields.

Plans to increase GER
The UGC had chalked out several plans to increase gross enrolment ratio (GER) of students (in the age group of 18 to 22) in higher education. He was optimistic of increasing the GER from the present 20 per cent to 30 per cent by the end of the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17). The enrolment of candidates for degree courses would be increased from the present 20 million to 29 million by the end of 12th Plan period. The number of students enrolled in distance education would go up from 4.6 million to 6.3 million by 2017, Prof. Prakash said.

Noting that a large number of students from marginalised sections of society would join colleges for degree courses, he said enrolment for PG courses and research programmes need to be improved to overcome shortage of teachers. There was a need to transform existing centres of learning into knowledge centres to provide quality education, the UGC Chairman said.

“Teaching and research are two sides of the same coin and the modern society cannot exist without research society.” Most of the research institutions had been overwhelmingly public institutions and they facilitate environment for both competitive and collaborative research and studies, he said.

Profit motive
Stating that corruption was rampant globally in higher education, Prof. Prakash said the profit motive was the major objective of many overseas institutions. Institutions would not last long without equity and quality of education. He also noted contribution of private educational institutions in increasing the gross enrolment ratio in degree and PG courses.

Funds
The UGC had sought Rs. 1844.70 billion for its various programmes during the 12th Plan period against Rs. 850 billion in the 11th Five Year Plan. Prof. Prakash said the UGC had planned strategies for the 12th Plan period with various schemes under the three major heads of access, equity and quality.

In some developed pockets of the country, enrolment was 42 per cent against less than 6 per cent in backward regions, he said. There were over 600 universities and university-level institutions and 31,000 colleges in the country as of 2011. He said considerable challenges still remained. Access to higher education was still less than the minimum international threshold levels. Besides skewed distribution of institutions, enrolment was largely concentrated in public universities. Further, enrolment was more in conventional disciplines, he added.

According to Prof. Prakash, higher education has been facing a few major challenges — regional imbalances in enrolment, equity, enrolment of candidates belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and minorities, crisis of identity where middlemen play a vital role to increase enrolment in colleges, and lack of effective governance and vision.

NAAC Director H.A. Ranganath explained the role of the council in the higher education system. Representatives of 430 educational institutions received accreditation certificates from NAAC. Around 500 delegates from State universities, deemed universities, and principals of colleges and educational institutions attended the ceremony.

Source: The Hindu, September 17, 2013

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Accreditation to be made mandatory for all varsities, colleges: UGC

To enhance the quality of higher education, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has decided to make accreditation mandatory for all universities and colleges coming under its purview. All universities, institutions of higher learning and colleges in the country in future have to obtain accreditation certificates from National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), Bangalore, to get funds from the UGC for various academic and research programmes.

Speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of the 5th NAAC accreditation award ceremony on Sunday, UGC Acting Chairman Ved Prakash said: “An order will be issued soon to make accreditation mandatory for all universities and colleges come under the UGC. The rule to make accreditation mandatory will be soon vetted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD),” he said.

“The accreditation helps an institution to identify its strengths, weaknesses, challenges and opportunities.” All educational institutions coming under UGC must obtain accreditation once in three years, he said. The UGC has already made it mandatory for all institutions to submit accreditation certificate of the NAAC with a minimum ‘B’ grade to get funds under the “Colleges with Potential Excellence” scheme. Otherwise, “the college has to refund the entire amount along with penal interest of 10 per cent to the UGC,” NAAC officials said.

Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Vice-Chancellor Sudhir K. Sopory received accreditation certificate from Prof. Prakash and NAAC Director H.A. Ranganath. JNU received cumulative credit point average of 3.91 and bagged ‘A’ grade certificate (Very Good) from NAAC.

Institutions such as Delhi University, Delhi, and the National Law School of Indian University and Indian Institute of Science (both Bangalore), have not yet applied for accreditation, officials said.

A committee headed by G. Padmanabhan, former Director, IISc, Bangalore, visited the JNU campus and evaluated the quality of education, facilities and infrastructure available, Prof. Sopory told The Hindu. He said the committee spent a few days on the campus and inspected all centres in the university, which has strength of over 7,500 students. Though there was an argument for and against accreditation, “the Academic Council of the University has decided to go in for accreditation. Though we do not care much about the ranking, we felt that it is good that somebody else reviews our academic performance,” Prof. Sopory said.

Source: The Hindu, September 17, 2012

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

India short of 236,000 dieticians

Diet-conscious Indians don't have enough dieticians to consult for a healthy diet. A comprehensive study on the shortage of dieticians conducted by the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and submitted to the Union Ministry of Health says the nation is short by nearly 236,000 dieticians.

Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest shortage of trained dieticians at about 40,000, followed by Maharashtra (21,925), Bihar (20,385), West Bengal (17,847), Andhra Pradesh (16,351) and Madhya Pradesh (14,128). Similarly, Tamil Nadu was short of 14,097 dieticians, Rajasthan (13,288), Karnataka (11,823), Odisha (8,170), Kerala (6,534), Haryana (4,936) and Delhi (3,317).

Lack of proper nutritional advice is posing a problem for India, which is suffering from the dual burden of under nutrition and over nutrition among children and adults. International Confederation of Dietetic Associations says India has less than one dietician (0.3) per 100,000 population. In comparison, there were 25 dieticians per 100,000 population in Denmark and Israel, and 56 for a similar head count in Japan.

National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) comes out with a nutritional guideline for Indians, but very few know what it actually recommends. Experts say dieticians were never given much importance till a decade ago. But, now their presence is of paramount importance in both hospitals and standalone clinics.

Kavita Narayan, hospital and health systems expert from PHFI, who directed the study, said, "The Paramedical Council being planned by the ministry should be broken under heads like therapeutic, curative, rehabilitative and non-direct care rather than have separate Councils for the 140 plus categories of paramedical disciplines. A faulty diet is behind many of India's health problems."

Dr Subhash Salunke, former director general of health services of Maharashtra, said, "The major constraints are that the number of institutes which are training qualified dieticians are few. Besides, the perception that dieticians are needed is low. Thanks to lifestyle changes, their role in promotive healthcare is vital.

Source: The Times of India, September 13, 2012
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Global tech companies Amazon, Google, Cisco, IBM others give a miss to IITs; Offer fat pay cheques to non-IITians

When Sukruth KS first walked into the National Institute of Technology (NIT) in the small town of Warangal in Andhra Pradesh three years ago, he was just another engineering student. When he passes out in May next year, he will be the one who Microsoft hired for a $1,00,000 (approximately Rs. 6 million) salary for a global posting. Anmol Kumar, Balmukund Trivedi and Dinesh Reddy, three of Sukruth's batchmates, have also snagged similar salaries from Epic Systems, a US-based company that makes software for healthcare companies. To put that in perspective, the highest pay cheques seen at top-notch Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are in the $140,000 range.

Global tech and Internet firms are on the prowl in small towns this placement season, looking to lure talent from NITs and good private engineering colleges. Both would rank a notch lower than IITs in the talent pecking order. Sample this: Amazon, Google, PepsiCo, Yahoo, Cisco, Oracle, Deloitte, Adobe, DE Shaw, Flipkart, Direct-i, Caterpillar, Future First and IBM are making offers this year at non-IIT campuses in Vellore, Madurai and Mesra, and also at private colleges in Delhi and Bangalore. Placement heads at these colleges say companies are hiring more than last year.

The companies are offering higher salaries and dangling better perks, including international assignments, free holidays and joining bonuses of up to Rs. 100,000. Amazon, Google, PepsiCo and more such marquee employers wooed students at NIT Warangal with salaries in the Rs. 800,000-2 million range. Global IT services major IBM also hired 85 students from the institute this year. "Even gaming firms such as EA Sports have come in and selected four students for Rs. 1.2 million," says M. Chandrasekhar, NIT's Placement Head.

"It's a question of supply and demand which cannot be met by going only to IITs," says Yugesh Goutam, Executive Director of KEC International, the infrastructure firm of the RPG Group. "When we have to hire 1000, it is not possible to take them only from the IITs, which only have a handful," says P. Thiruvengadam, Senior Director, Deloitte India. "Also, tier-II and III colleges are important because they give us a good mix of students from different cultures," he adds. "We strike a healthy balance by hiring a mix of students from IITs and from tier-II and III colleges," says V. Nagarajan, VP and Head-HR, Times Internet. "Students from the latter come with high aptitude and a high emotional quotient." Times Internet hires 20-25% of its talent from tier-II and III colleges.

Engineering and tech firms and core product companies form part of the first wave of recruiters at such campuses. IT service giants such as Wipro, Infosys, Cognizant, TCS and HCL will start visiting campuses from September. Salaries offered by these mass recruiters are typically around Rs. 375,000. In the past few years, students have preferred product and core companies rather than the IT services sector as whispers of a downturn, delays in joining dates, etc, affect the image of the industry, sources from these colleges say.

At the Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), Flipkart beat Amazon and Google with a Rs. 1.25 million package, while Microsoft offered Rs. 1.05 lmillion. Another e-commerce firm, PayPal, hired for Rs. 825,000. Others such as Schneider, Cisco and Thoughtworks are offering Rs. 600,000-1 million. DE Shaw came armed with a package of Rs. 1.45 million and Amazon has given students a retention bonus of Rs. 100,000 after a year. "We are here to compete with MNCs such as Google, Yahoo and Adobe since we need students with similar caliber," said Aparna Ballakur, HR head for Flipkart. The e-commerce company will pick up its fresh batch from IITs, BITS Pilani, NITs and VIT.

At the Birla Institute of Technology (BIT), Mesra, IT product companies alone have so far absorbed 8-10% of the 375-400 undergraduate batch. These include the likes of Microsoft, Facebook and Direct-i. Overall, packages are 15-20% higher than last year, says Saitab Sinha, Deputy Placement Head at the institute. Bangalore-based RV College of Engineering has seen 35-40% of its 1,000 students roped in by a similar lot, and at double the pay in some cases. Salaries offered at Delhi Technological University (DTU) are 30% higher than last year. "Several Korean companies have offered packages of Rs. 3.5-4 million, including perks, and joining bonus amounting to Rs. 100,000," says Neeraj Nimwal, Training & Placement Officer for the college.

IBM hired 154 students from the 2013 batch at Madurai-based Thiagarajar College of Engineering, compared to 90 last time. Amazon has selected two students for Rs. 1.15 million and ITC, Thoughtworks, Athena Healthcare have recruited for around Rs. 600,000 and above. Automotive manufacturing companies such as Tata Motors, Maruti and SKF are ready to pay Rs. 425,000-550,000 to candidates.

Source: The Economic Times, September 13, 2012
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IIM-Calcutta pips its peers in research projects

The Indian Institute of Management-Calcutta (IIM-C) is leading the way in research project, pipping its peers IIM-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) and IIM-Bangalore (IIM-B).Of the top three IIMs, IIM-C published 40 research papers in peer-reviewed journals, and presented 25 papers at international conferences during 2010-11, according to the institute’s annual report. IIM-B, on its part, saw eight research and seven case writing projects being completed and published during the same period. In comparison, however, the oldest premier B-school IIM-A saw only one research project being completed as against 42 in 2009-10.

Such has been the struggle for improving research at its campus that in the annual report, Samir Barua, Director, IIM-A said, “Several new initiatives, including organisation of case writing workshops, were taken during the year to increase the number of cases being written by faculty of the institute.”

IIM-A has initiated a new performance system wherein research will be given equal weightage as teaching in annual appraisals of faculty members. In terms of consulting projects being completed, IIM-A scored against its peer with 105 in 2010-11. Its counterpart, IIM-B, saw 19 consulting projects being completed for the same period.

Even in terms of research projects being initiated in 2010-11, IIM-C pipped its peers with 13 new projects, followed by nine by IIM-A and eight by IIM-B. IIM-C also had more number of projects published on international platform as compared to its peer institutions.

“Our faculty members published around 40 research papers in peer-reviewed journals and presented around 25 papers at international conferences during the year. The institute funded 13 new research projects undertaken by faculty members and two projects received external funding support,” said Ajit Balakrishnan, Chairman of Board of Governors at IIM-C.

Further, a new faculty promotion policy was implemented this year at IIM-C with the objective of further strengthening the research environment. During the year the IIM-C funded 13 new research projects. Of these, 12 projects were in the Rs. 100,000 category and one was in the Rs. 500,000 category. In addition to this, two other research projects were launched by faculty members through external funding.

“In line with the institute’s long-term vision we saw significant progress in our efforts to transform into a research-based organisation, in terms of growth in scholarly publications as well as case studies and teaching aids,” said Pankaj Chandra, Director of IIM-B in its annual report of 2010-11. IIM-B has already entered into an agreement with Harvard Business Publishing, under which the latter will distribute its collection of teaching cases.

Experts, however, believe that Indian institutes need to put in more efforts to improve quality to achieve international standards. “India’s research base already has some outstanding activity but, it appears, thinly spread; and while research generally is often ‘very good’ it is more rarely ‘internationally excellent’. The underlying patterns of excellence and an explanation for India’s ‘deficit’ compared to other countries requires further investigation,” said Jonathan Adams, Director, Research Evaluation, Thompson Reuters, had told Business Standard.

Indian universities, added Adams, produce a modest output of research that has really high global impact. By comparison, other growing research economies are producing not only more research but also more high quality research.

Source: Business Standard, September 13, 2012

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Cambridge eyeing growth in postgraduate collaborations in India; Already has 270 active projects

University of Cambridge is eyeing growth in postgraduate collaborations with Indian institutions. Though the university Vice-Chancellor, Professor Leszek Boryseiwichz, emphatically rejects any plans of setting university campus in India in the near future, he says they are identifying new institutions in India to partner with. However, the collaborations would essentially be at the post-graduate (PG) level. The university in the near future is looking at creating a sustainable relationship with India through academic linkages. University of Cambridge already has 270 active projects with various institutes running in India.

The university also entered into collaboration with the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee (SGPC) institution, wherein five students from SGPC institution would be shortlisted for pursuing research studies in Cambridge. Under the scheme, the entire expenses of students would be shared equally by the SGPC and Cambridge University.

The university, with more than 240 Indian students studying at PG level and around 70 students enrolled for under graduate courses, has not witnessed any impact of weakening rupee, impacting the inflow of students to the university. “Till now, we have not observed any case wherein Indian students had to leave the campus because of the escalating cost of education on account of the depreciating rupee.”

The university, starting this year, has also allowed entry of Indian students in undergraduate courses , if they score 90% in the higher secondary examination. Boryseiwichz says the examinations system throughout the country varies. And to ensure meritorious students are not deprived of the opportunity to enroll themselves in the undergraduate courses being offered by the university, a couple of examination systems has been recognised by the university. This year the university has attracted 70 students from India, who have enrolled themselves for the various undergraduate courses.

Source: Business Standard, September 13, 2012

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Kerala may get an IIT during 12th Five Year Plan, says Prime Minister

Kerala may get an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) during the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17). Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said here on Wednesday that the Centre is seriously considering a proposal to set up an IIT in the State. He was inaugurating "Emerging Kerala 2012", a State government initiative to showcase potential projects to private investors. Over 1,800 delegates from India and abroad are participating in the three-day event.

The proposed IIT will be in Palakkad and could be included in the 12th Plan, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy later clarified. The land owned by Instrumentation Ltd. in Palakkad may be used to locate the IIT. An IIT requires a minimum of 300 acres.
Promising Central support to Kerala’s efforts to become an industrial hub, the Prime Minister asked the State Government to use to utmost the National Skill Development Mission. “This would go a long way in tapping the energies of the Kerala’s educated unemployed,” he said.

Referring to the government decision last week to grant Cabotage relaxation for Vallarpadam Container Transshipment Terminal in Kochi, Manmohan Sigh said the government’s vision to see this port, inaugurated by him last year, becoming a transshipment hub will materialise soon.

The Prime Minister, who will in the State for two days, will lay the foundation stone for the Kochi Metro Rail Project on Thursday. The Rs. 51 billion, 25-km project linking Aluva to Pettah is being implemented with equity participation from the Centre.

The Prime Minister said the LNG re-gasification terminal coming up in Kochi will increase natural gas supply to power, fisheries and food processing units in the State. Referring to the contribution of Non-Resident Keralites, he said they bring in around $11 billion a year, which is 22 per cent of the State’s GDP.

Source: The Hindu Business Line, September 13, 2012
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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Slowdown hits classrooms: Indian B-schools learn it the hard way, 140 B-schools to close

A boom in India's management education sector that saw the number of business schools triple to almost 4,000 over the last five years has ended as students find expensive courses are no guarantee of a well-paid job in a slowing economy.
India's seemingly unstoppable economic rise, an aspiring middle class’ desire to stand out in a competitive job market, and a lucrative opportunity for investors fuelled a bubble in business education that is now starting to deflate. About 140 schools offering Master of Business Administration (MBA) courses are expected to close this year, as 35 %of their places were vacant in 2011-12, up from 15-20 percent in 2006-07, a report by ratings agency Crisil found.

"The boom which was there has gone," said Anshul Sharma, Chairman of Asma Institute of Management, which he started in 2004 in Pune. “Those who entered this industry with a motive to make money are leaving because there is not much money left. Every college is working to sustain itself," said Sharma.

There was a near four-fold rise to more than 352,000 MBA course spots in the five years to March 2012. But the allure of so-called B-schools outside the top tier is fading as the economy grows at its slowest in nine years, with the financial sector especially sluggish, and amid questions about the quality of some schools. Only 29 %of graduates from Indian business schools — excluding those from the top 20 schools — get a job straight after completing their course, compared with 41% in 2008.

Aditya Dighe took out Rs. 330,000 loan to fund his MBA from a school in India's financial hub of Mumbai. Four months and 18 job interviews after graduating, the 26-year-old is still looking for a job that will pay enough to cover his expenses and monthly loan instalments of Rs. 10,000. "The B-schools have promoted their brand only on placements and by boasting about salary packages. The course is theoretical and you don't learn the skills corporates want," he said.

Private education is big business in India. KPMG pegs the industry at nearly $50 billion and projects it to reach $115 billion by 2018. But growth rates are not uniform across the primary, secondary and tertiary education sectors. "A third of all management colleges are struggling," said Narayanan Ramaswamy, a partner at KPMG. At the peak before the global financial crisis, new business schools were cropping up almost every day, some in remote towns where even quality secondary education is hard to come by.

There are two strands of MBA courses. MBA degrees are offered by schools overseen by the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the regulatory body for higher education. These schools must be affiliated to a university, have a maximum of 120 students and fees are capped by state governments. A second stream allows colleges to offer diplomas that are not accredited by AICTE. There are no standardised curriculums, class sizes are bigger and fees can be higher. An institution can offer both accredited and non-accredited MBA courses. In a city such as Pune, something of an education hub, it costs about Rs. 40-50 million over two years to set up a management school, which can be as basic as a modest building with classrooms, a small library and a computer room.

When demand was outrunning supply, students were willing to pay high fees for the autonomous courses, that tend to be more industry-relevant, in order to get a leg up in the job market. "People who had some land and money saw a great investment opportunity in the demand-supply gap and there was a rush to open schools," said Dhiraj Mathur, Executive Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers. "They were not thinking about the faculty, location, employability and brand name. They thought setting up a school would take care of the rest."

Now, some new institutions are discontinuing their autonomous courses despite often better quality education, because with no guarantee of a job, students are opting for cheaper, AICTE-approved courses. Schools with little or no track record fill seats by paying existing students up to Rs. 40,000 for referring other students, Asma's Sharma said, whereas some hire agents, paying them upwards of Rs. 50,000 for every student they get. Sharma cannot afford to pay hefty commissions and is struggling to fill the 120 seats at his institute. Last year he enrolled only 45 students, and needs about 80 to break even.

Fees at the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) are Rs. 1.5 million for the two-year MBA programme. ISB, an autonomous college associated with international schools like Kellogg, Wharton and London Business School, charges Rs. 2.2 million. Online job portal MyHiringClub.com found the average starting salary for graduates of India's top B-schools was about $32,400, about Rs. 1.8 million, more than four times the average of $7,550 for other MBA graduates. Lavina Thadani, a 23-year-old MBA graduate from Pune, settled for a low-paying job in the capital markets team after a three-month search yielded little else. Thadani who took a Rs. 300,000-loan to get her degree earns only about Rs. 200,000 a year. "If I had known earlier I would have never done my MBA," she said.

Source: The Financial Express, September 11, 2012
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Micro-MBA: Capsules of re-learning for corporates

Anupam Desai, Senior Vice-President at agro tech firm Kesar Enterprises, donned the hat of a CEO for a day. The middle-aged professional had completed his MBA several years ago and used the real-life case study of a corporate chieftain to gain practical insights and business acumen.

Desai was participating in a strategy game at a ‘micro MBA’ programme, whereby he had to understand the concept of team building even as he donned a leadership role. His play acting and business simulations reinforced his earlier MBA curriculum learning.

He said he had got so involved in his daily assignments and projects that he forgot some theoretical part of his degree. He enrolled in a three-day programme to understand the changing dynamics of the industry. “These short-term courses help catch up on concepts that may be more applicable in today’s work space,” he said.

After the much-hyped short duration MBA programmes, smaller and cheaper ‘micro MBA’ programmes are gaining popularity among executives. Micro MBA courses are typically a three-day or a five-day affair and are very popular in the US. They cover subjects such as international marketing, entrepreneurship, quantitative methods of business and international political economy.

Also called ‘boot camp’ MBAs, these programmes were originally offered by companies such as McKinsey and Co and Booz Allen Hamilton to train fresher’s on business basics.

Though the market for certificate ‘executive education’ is very nascent in India, ThinkEducation, which has recently initiated programmes with the University of Stern NY, University of Rutgers NY and King’s College London, believes these programmes reinforce the core of the MBA curriculum. “We recently conducted a micro-MBA programme for executives. We had 60 participants from 26 Indian companies,” said Aditya Malkani from ThinkEducation Advisory Services, which was formulated about two years ago.

The courses are addressed by a combination of faculty from overseas universities and Indian colleges. Though distance-learning or correspondence MBA programmes are available at many recognised universities across India, the trend of micro MBA courses has not caught on in India. However, business schools such as the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) and the Indian Business School (ISB) conduct short-duration MBA programmes.

Does the concept of ‘whirlwind’ education actually help participants grasp any concepts of the otherwise two-year MBA course? Malkani says, “The answer is yes and no. We cannot cover the two-year course in three days, but can manage to encapsulate the concepts in a shorter time-frame, especially targeting working professionals. We do brush up their concepts. The course is not for beginners.”

Participation fee for the micro MBA programme is Rs. 30,000 a candidate. This is about ten per cent of the fees of executive programmes conducted globally and is usually sponsored by the company who sends the executive.

Source: The Hindu Business Line, September 11, 2012

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Cambridge University's International Summit in India

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar on Monday stressed the need for more centres of higher learning “with uncompromising standards of education” around the world. She was speaking as chief guest of Cambridge University’s International Summit in Delhi, which was organised with an aim to bring together business leaders, politicians, academicians and journalists to address India’s key challenges in the changing global scenario.

Kumar also emphasised the role played by several Cambridge University alumni in India’s freedom struggle and lauded the nation’s rapidly-growing economy. “The litmus test for an egalitarian society is that the fruits of development must reach the disadvantaged and the marginalised,” she said.

Union Human Resource Development and Information Technology (IT) Minister Kapil Sibal, who was the guest of honour, identified IT as the “only tool” to bridge the gap between advantaged and marginalised sections of society. “In the next two-and-a-half years, we are going to connect around 250 gram panchayats in the country through fibre optic (cables). There is enormous opportunity in IT,” he said.

Sibal called for greater understanding among education systems such as awarding “combined degrees”. "The way manufacturing from most countries is outsourced to China and software outsourced to India, we need to create more institutions so that outsourcing to India becomes inevitable," he said. Minister Sibal said major breakthroughs have been made in the area of research. “From 2004 onwards, the number of published papers per capita has grown tremendously. Perhaps, more than anywhere else in the world,” he said.

Cambridge University Vice-Chancellor Leszek Borysiewicz, said summits like this allows academics to engage in “the best way” with their international counterparts. Other speakers included Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, HSBC India chief Naina Lal Kidwai, JNU’s Economics professor emeritus Prabhat Patnaik, CPM politburo member Brinda Karat and award-winning filmmaker Prakash Jha.

Source: The Indian Express, September 11, 2012

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UK universities take four of six top global rankings

UK universities have taken four of the six top slots in a global university "league table" for 2011-12. With US's Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) leading the list, UK's Cambridge, which was top last year, stood second and Harvard University ranked third in the QS World University Rankings, based on a number of criteria.

University College, London (UCL), Oxford and Imperial took fourth, fifth and sixth places respectively. Seventh place was awarded to Yale University, followed by University of Chicago, Princeton University and the tenth position to California Institute of Technology.

Ben Sowter, of QS Research, warned higher fees and new visa rules could see UK universities struggle next year. Students trying to get ahead of a trebling in fees for English undergraduates had produced a surge in applications to start university in autumn 2011, Sowter told a news channel.

"We won't know for sure until the 2012 results come in, but we may see a drop off next year," he said. He also said tougher visa rules for international students could deter some from applying to UK universities. Just 40 per cent of UK employers agreed visa regulations had helped them hire international graduates - globally the figure was 70 per cent said Sowter.

The UK Government has been widely criticised by MPs within the past week for tightening the student-visa system. Both argued overseas students should be reclassified so that they would not count towards migration limits, to allow the UK to continue to expand its share of the overseas student market.

The QS rankings rate the world's top 400 universities, evaluating each institution's strengths in research, teaching, the employability of its graduates and international outlook.

"If we are serious about staying on top, the government must concentrate investment where it will have the most impact - in our world-class research-intensive universities," director general of the Russell Group of research-based universities Dr Wendy Piatt said.

"The government has put our university system on a stable footing by introducing substantial government-backed loans, which secure a sufficient stream of funding for the sector while ensuring there are no upfront fees and a progressive repayment system for students," spokesperson of Department for Business Industry and Skills said. "We believe the attractiveness and quality of our higher education will be sustained by our reforms," the spokesperson added.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), September 11, 2012

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Now, an MBA tailored for emerging economies

‘Go West, young man’ is how a writer exhorted American youth to seek their fortune. Today, in contrast, many multinationals are sending their managers in droves to the East — mainly to China and India — to gain experience in the future growth markets.

Chennai-based B-school Great Lakes Institute of Management is taking that learning very seriously. Its first post-graduate two-year management programme is focused on ‘Emerging Economies’.

GLIM founder and Dean Bala V. Balachandran says most B-school education today is still Western-focussed. But markets in the West are saturated and the growth markets in the future are in the BRICS region as well as in countries such as Indonesia. Balachandran says the school hit upon this focus also as a means to differentiate itself from the IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management). This focus has worked, he says, as some students have even spurned offers from the IIMs to seek admission at GLIM. The institute, located 50 km from Chennai, has run a one-year accelerated MBA programme for the past seven years.

Executive Director, GLIM, S.Sriram, says the institute has tied up with top B-schools in China and Brazil for internships, in which GLIM students will get a chance to intern with a local company and undertake projects there. It may soon tie up with a South African school as well. It could even be an exchange programme, where students from these overseas schools study for a term at GLIM. “It’s going to be an immersive learning experience for the students of a new world order,” he says.

Emerging economies share a similar profile and have identical problems, which are different from the West. This focus, with local case studies, will help students understand these countries better in the framework of a general MBA programme. Sriram says it’s not just Western MNCs that need managerial talent with experience in the emerging economies. Several large Indian groups themselves have made acquisitions and run operations in these economies; they too need managers with local expertise.

Source: The Hindu Business Line, September 10, 2012

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Etoos Academy plans to invest Rs. 1.5 billion over the next 3 years

Etoos Academy Pty. Ltd is a South Korean education company that has ventured into India with a coaching centre in Kota that focuses on preparing students aspiring to join the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). Choi Young Joo, a director of Etoos Academy in Kota, spoke to Mint about the reasons for moving to the town in Rajasthan that’s known as the capital of India’s educational coaching institutes and expansion plans. Edited excerpts:

What brings you to Kota?
As an education company we wanted to expand our horizon and India is the right place. People in India are focusing on education, especially on (institutes such as) IIT. Environment here is quite similar to Korea. We have a good expertise in online coaching and this can significantly reduce cost. We can be a customized content provider to students (preparing for admission to top engineering schools).

You came eyeing the IIT entrance market but in the last few months things have changed. How has it affected your plan?
There is a downfall in the student flow this time if you are talking about the IIT market. Last year, 4,500 students came to us both for long-term and short-term courses. This year, it is 3,500. IIT market has 500,000 students, the AIEEE (All India Engineering Entrance Examination) market has 1 million. If you are focusing on all segments (including school boards and other engineering universities), then no problem. We can look at study-from-home material, customized test-prep for expansion. We have a long-term view on India. The first three to five years will be time for investment and then we will harvest.

What’s your expansion plan?
To begin with Delhi... We want to have centres in 15 cities. We have invested Rs. 300 million since we started our operations (in 2011). In next three years, by 2015, we have plans to invest some Rs. 1.5 billion more. As India grows as an economy, we will grow with it.

You are emphasizing on customized online test-prep market. Please explain.
If somebody wants to read just a chapter or section, let’s say of mathematics or physics, we can give him that. It’s more of demand and need-based. We have both long-term course spanning over eight months and short-term of one or two months. We aim to give students level-wise test-prep, problem-solving, supplementary education. We believe that offline market is about the top 30% and rest is the online market. In India, we can expect some 20-25% revenue from offline mode and rest from the online segment.

Source: Mint, September 10, 2012

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Coaching capital braces for a tough test

At first sight, Kota seems like only a little less glitzy version of Gurgaon, the city near New Delhi known for its gleaming glass-and-chrome office complexes, call centres, shopping malls and residential towers. Kota’s rise has nothing to do with the automobile boom led by Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, which set up its first plant in Gurgaon in the 1980s and paved the way for its transformation into a thriving corporate enclave.

This town in south-western Rajasthan, on the Delhi-Mumbai railway corridor, has been powered almost entirely by education—rather, the business of education. Numerous institutes in the town, known as India’s coaching capital, have sent countless students to some of the country’s most prestigious engineering schools.

Kota’s raison d’etre becomes evident the minute a visitor enters the town. The hoardings and banners that greet visitors don’t feature the latest Bollywood offering; they aren’t about an enticing new consumer product; what they plug are coaching schools. Indeed, the entire ecosystem of Kota—from residential facilities for out-of-town students to the mushrooming high-end showrooms—has been developed around the education business.

All this may be poised to change. A decision by the Centre to move the nation to a single entrance test for admission to engineering colleges across the country, partly to diminish the influence of coaching institutes in preparing students for admission tests, has dealt a blow to the business model of Kota.

The proposed common entrance test will be a national test that aims to reduce the demand for capitation fees that engineering institutes typically command for granting admission just as it will ease the stress on aspiring students, who otherwise have to sit for multiple entrance examinations.

Under the plan, all Central government-funded technical institutes will give 40% weightage to students’ performance in school board examinations and 60% to the scores in the entrance test. In the case of the elite Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), besides passing the entrance test, a student would also have to finish among the top 20 percentile in the school-leaving examination to qualify for admission.

While until now only the score in the engineering entrance test has mattered, it will become just one more metric in assessing a student for admission, still an important one, although the so-called one-nation, one-test initiative is still mired in confusion. The greater focus on marks in the school-leaving examinations for admission to institutes such as the IITs and the National Institutes of Technology (NITs) has led to a decline in the flow of students to Kota’s coaching schools.

The impact
Along with two dozen engineering degree aspirants, Shivam Sharma is seated on the neatly manicured lawns outside the multi-storey test preparation institute Career Point Ltd. Given that the institute claims a success rate of 70% in sending students to various engineering colleges, Sharma, who has passed his 12th class examination from Agra and came to Kota to join Career Point in July, is understandably nervous about making the cut for admission to engineering colleges.

“I have lost over a month (of preparation) because of the confusion over the entrance exam,” Sharma said with a grimace. “Several of my friends and juniors stayed back” in Agra instead of coming to Kota to join test preparation classes. The change in the requirements for admission has dimmed his chances of entering one of the IITs because Sharma scored just 66% in his class XII board exam. “Like me, many may not get a chance to crack IIT. Giving more emphasis on the board exam too has affected the decision of many to prepare for IITs while they are in the 11th standard,” he said.

Ravit Anand, another engineering degree aspirant,who came to Kota from Ghaziabad on the outskirts of Delhi to prepare for the same entrance examination, agreed. “They have created a mess out of nothing and taken away chances of many students,” Anand said. “Officials could have taken the decision gradually, allowing students to think and prepare for the change with time in hands.” Not surprisingly, the coaching business is already feeling the pinch.

Nearly 100,000 students come to Kota every year from all parts of the country to realize their ambition of entering engineering schools. Every student spends an extra Rs. 8,000-Rs. 14,000 per month to cover their cost of living. Including the coaching fee ranging between Rs. 50,000 and Rs. 85,000, a student ends up paying upwards of Rs. 200,000 a year. Put together, the annual revenue of the coaching business in Kota is roughly around Rs. 20 billion.

The top six institutes in Kota combined employ more than 5,000 people directly, including 1,200 faculty—a fifth of whom have graduated from the IITs. Almost all classrooms are equipped with the latest teaching technology and, in addition, each institute has set up problem-solving desks manned by teachers. “There is a 20% impact on the business. This is significant but it’s out of (our) control…what can you do?,” said Pramod Maheshwari, chief executive and managing director of Career Point Ltd, the first coaching centre to get listed on the stock market.

“The confusion has impacted the flow of students to Kota, especially in the engineering segment,” he said, adding that many 11th grade students were missing this year. Career Point shares have fallen about 40% since 21 February, when Union minister of human resource development Kapil Sibal first announced the single entrance test. The small-cap index of BSE Ltd has fallen nearly 10% in the same period.

Not cramming schools?
P.K. Bansal, chief executive of Bansal Classes, said the authorities in Delhi may believe that coaching centres were spoiling the standards of IITs by ensuring the selection of students with exceptional skills in memorizing lessons rather than in understanding the sciences. “But in reality, we train them so well that they go and excel. We are hardworking teachers, trying our best for making up the loss that the school system was supposed to provide. These are not cramming schools,” he said. He too conceded that there was a perceptible drop in new student arrivals this year, pegging it at 15% at his institute alone.

It is difficult to estimate either the size of the coaching business in Kota or pick the exact point at which it mushroomed into a semi-industry. Legend has it that Kota was at one time a thriving industrial hub that drew a lot of bright engineers; the boom eventually went bust and one retrenched engineer decided to start tutorial classes for aspiring engineering students—the idea clicked and set Kota on its way.

Even foreign institutes such as Etoos Academy Pvt. Ltd., the South Korean test-prep company, were unable to resist the lure of Kota. They too are feeling the pinch. Etoos Academy director Choi Young Joo said the institute had nearly 4,500 students last year; this year it is a little less than 3,500—a contraction of 25%. “It’s a policy decision and we are now devising alternative plans to capture the test-prep market beyond engineering. We are in India for long term,” said Choi.

The town has 129 registered institutes, according to the official website of Kota, though residents estimate the number could be a few times the official figure, given a large number of unregistered coaching schools.

The future
The big question is whether the blow to the coaching capital of India is temporary or permanent. Analysts say the boom days may be over, but coaching classes will continue to have a market unless the government succeeds in reducing the shortcomings in the formal education system. CEO Maheshwari of Career Point, for instance, says the fact that students’ parents are willing to pay for coaching classes on top of the fees they already pay to their regular schools shows “nobody is relying on the school system”.

“The coaching institutes’ existence is an outcome of inefficiency and failure of school system,” he said. “Unfortunately, the government is not accepting this…instead they are blaming the coaching industry.” Shilpa Danodia, a student from Sikar in Rajasthan, says: “You have to improve your standard and an entrance as tough as IIT-JEE (Joint Entrance Exam) or AIEEE (All India Engineering Entrance Examination) needs serious preparation and hand-holding.” Danodia is enrolled at Resonance Eduventures Pvt. Ltd. in Kota.

Which then begets the question as to whether in the interim the change in rules will actually work to the detriment of students based outside of the main metros. While they will not be able to access coaching hubs such as Kota for the usual duration, an alternative coaching infrastructure will take time to emerge locally in other small cities and towns.

Vinod Raina, a member of the Central Advisory Board on Education (CABE), a body that advises the government in policy making, says a reduction in the number of high-stakes entrance tests will reduce the demand for coaching institutes. “Parents fear that unless their kids get coached, they won’t be able to compete. ...The reasons are many but coaching is a complete nuisance and should be made illegal,” he said.

Source: Mint, September 10, 2012

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