Friday, May 21, 2010

IITs Singapore campus may take shape by 2015

The Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) is likely to back a proposal to set up an IIT in Singapore. The final decision will be taken by the IIT Council, headed by HRD minister Kapil Sibal. The Singapore government is keen to have IIT set up its campus in the city-state. This was conveyed to HRD minister Kapil Sibal by Singapore education minister Ng Eng Hen during their meeting in Delhi on Thursday. A proposal to this effect was sent to the ministry earlier.

It has been proposed that IITs and other centrally-funded technical institutes under the government form a society called the "International Institute of Technology". This society would set up the IIT in Singapore. The attempt is to create as unique model of academics, where there will be undergraduate programmes in areas like energy, environment, communication and computing, design and manufacturing, international diplomacy and management, health science and technology, water resources, and education. The focus will be on the Asian region, with a curriculum that promotes the culture of research and innovation.

Special focus will be on post graduate programmes, which will seek to attract students from across Asia. The idea is to retain the academic strength of the IIT model and to extend it to new areas. IIT Singapore will promote a strong sense of bonding between different nationalities of Asia. It will provide academic leadership as well as scholarship environment for students and faculty.

The proposed IIT Singapore will be based on a public-private-partnership model. Its fees will be comparable with the international level. Financial support for students by governments of Asian countries would be welcome. The proposed institute will compete for research funding at the international level. The Singapore government is expected to provide infrastructural support for the institution. The initiative will be shepherded by the Indo-Singapore Project Agency set up by the Indian government and will be funded by the government of Singapore. The agency will be headed by an academic and will have an advisory board which will provide guidelines of this co-operation.

A team comprising members of the IIT faculty, and international academic community will prepare a detailed project report including the financial model and details of implementation. The project report will have to be accepted by both governments before the work on setting up IIT Singapore begins. Five years is being considered for implementation. The impetus to set up an overseas outpost for IIT comes from the realisation that these engineering institutes need to leverage their undergraduate programme to improve their research output. An international campus would help in this regard.

Source: The Economic Times, May 21, 2010

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