Wednesday, February 29, 2012

IIMs get innovative

It’s not just about boardroom lessons and knowledge of the corporate world. Management students across various B-schools, especially the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), now have to think out of the box, thanks to the innovative, offbeat courses and training programmes on offer. IIM-Shillong recently introduced an intensive one-year, executive postgraduate programme (PGPEx) in international business which has been designed to enhance skills for senior management roles at the global level with a six-month stay and internship in China.

“This is the first Sino-Indian MBA programme with global focus. IIM-Shillong has signed an MoU with Ocean University of China to start this global MBA programme. It is designed with equal inputs from Indian and Chinese management,” says S. Shajahan, Chairman, PGPEx and member board of governors, IIM-Shillong. Slated to start in April with 45 students in a batch, the course includes a six-month study tour of China, global internship and training and exposure to six languages. The curriculum focuses on developing an understanding of the diverse business practices of growing economies and to produce leaders with managerial skills that are critical for the emerging markets of our dynamic times.

IIM-Ranchi students can look forward to courses and workshops on neuromanagement and business analytics. “It is neuroscience with a management flavour. The study of biological reactions and people’s instincts mixed with management theories will add a new dimension to management education. We have held workshops on this to apprise students of this concept,” says MJ Xavier, Director, IIM-Ranchi. The institute has set up a business analytics lab in collaboration with IBM.
The business school also intends to map Indian cricket captain MS Dhoni’s brain and understand the mind of a successful leader for formulating a new course. A specialisation in media management is also on the cards. “We have also introduced courses on Indian culture, inner development and Indian ethos. As a part of the course on Indian culture, the students visited Nalanda and attended interactive sessions there,” Xavier adds.

IIM-Kozhikode, too, recently launched a week-long rigorous and compulsory course for its flagship postgraduate programme students. Titled managerial perspective, the course offers a series of simulation cases, movies and lectures. The simulation cases require interdisciplinary analysis followed by managerial decisions. The course also seeks to create the need to gain expertise in dealing with and contributing to social change. According to IIM-Kozhikode’s Dean (Development) Sanal Kumar Velayudhan, “This is a first of its kind course in India. It was developed to suit the needs of bright young minds that would be motivated to learn by focussing on decision-making without the shackles of functional area disciplines.”

The sports and entertainment world will also inspire budding managers. IIM-Bangalore is planning to launch a sports-based executive education programme aimed at middle and senior managers. The programme, called Learning from Sport, is scheduled for March. Participants will get to share their experiences with sportspersons and sessions include classroom training, panel discussions, video-based case studies and informal interactions. “We want to hone the skills of our students in managing a team, (developing the) ability to motivate people, building marketing strategies and boosting leadership qualities.

We are expecting cricketer Anil Kumble to conduct some of the sessions during the programme. This will allow us to explore the various facets of leadership and other behavioural traits that the corporate world can learn from the sports world,” says Shyamal Roy, Chairperson, Executive Education Programmes, IIM-Bangalore. The institute also conducted a similar programme on studying the various aspects of filmmaking, media and the entertainment industry. Of late, there have also been guest lectures by Dhanush (of Kolaveri Di fame), cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle and the Dalai Lama at IIMs.

Source: Hindustan Times (HT Education), February 29, 2012

L&T's AM Naik to be new IIM-A Chairman

Larsen & Toubro Chairman AM Naik has been selected as the new chairman of Indian Institute of Management- Ahmedabad (IIM-A), India's top-ranking B-school he served as a board member for seven years. Naik will take over from Raymond's chairman emeritus Vijaypat Singhania who completes his five-year term in March end.

Naik and IIM-A Director Samir Barua confirmed the appointment. The Union Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) picked up Naik over others like HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh and RA Mashelkar, former director general of India's Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, names suggested by an IIM-A committee headed by Arvind Ltd chairman Sanjay Lalbhai.

The ministry finalising one of the names proposed by the institute, is already being read as an important step towards the much-sought autonomy. When contacted Naik said, it was too early for him to comment. "I just got the letter. (I) have not applied my mind on what I need to do," said the chemical engineer from Gujarat who rose through the ranks at L&T, the engineering conglomerate. IIM-A's Samir Barua welcomed the appointment and said, Naik is a respected figure and comes from the infrastructure industry which is important for the growth of Indian economy.

Barua pointed out that it was the first time that the ministry has appointed a candidate proposed by the institute and saw it as a major step towards IIM-A autonomy. The MHRD, Gujarat government and the society of the institute have approved amendments of the Memorandum of Association (MoA) and the appointment of Naik is a signal that the ministry has followed the revised MoA process," said Barua.

Autonomy would give IIMs the power to appoint their chairpersons and directors, apart from deciding faculty salary, student fees, sale and purchase of assets and setting up of foreign campuses.

Source: The Economic Times, February 29, 2012

Recruiters treat class of 2012 at top B-Schools like bonus babies

Vying for the best talent, recruiters at top B-schools are compensating 2012 grads with hefty joining bonuses in a year of moderate hikes. The creme de la creme of Class of 2012 at premier B-schools like Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), Indian Institute of Foreign Trade ( IIFT), XLRI and Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), Delhi, have received bonuses ranging from Rs. 100,000 to Rs. 300,000 this year. The Class of 2011 had to settle for joining bonuses ranging between Rs. 40,000 and Rs. 50,000 and on rare occasions, a lakh or so.

"In premier institutes, there is still a struggle for talent. It is only in the lower order (of institutes) that companies can relax a bit," says Sandeep Chaudhary, regional practice leader, compensation consulting, Asia-Pacific, Aon Hewitt. "For the best talent, competition remains high," says Elango R, HR head, MphasiS. The ITeS firm has offered a joining bonus of Rs. 100,000-200,000 to 10 students it has picked from IIM-Ahmedabad, IIM-Bangalore, IIM-Lucknow and Indian School of Business (ISB). But it has not raised its compensation package this year, which ranges between Rs. 900,000 and Rs. 2 million.

"The joining bonus trend is here to stay for some more time," says Rajiv Krishnan D, director-human capital, Mercer. "They (companies) want to be absolutely sure they break into the top 90th percentile and rope in the best." That is perhaps why consumer goods and hospitality major ITC Ltd has for the first time offered a joining bonus of Rs. 300,000 to campus recruits. The company picked up 70 students from management institutes, including the IIMs and FMS Delhi. Sources at IIM-Calcutta confirmed joining bonuses to ITC recruits.

"Since we rely more on pre-placement offers to students, the joining bonus component helps attract the best of talent," says Rahul Gama, VP (HR), Godrej Consumer Products. Apart from a joining bonus of Rs. 100,000 to 11 campus recruits, the company has also increased its average campus offer this year from Rs. 1.3 million to Rs. 1.5 million.

Source: The Economic Times, February 29, 2012

New IITs yet to get govt approval, students in a spot

Hundreds of students entered the new Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), set up in 2008 expecting a bright future for themselves. But their dreams have hit a roadblock, even as the first batch of BTech students is set to graduate in May. The new institutes are yet to be approved as IITs by the Parliament. As a result, the students graduating this year will not get an IIT degree for the time being.

All IITs are governed by the Institutes of Technology Act, 1961. The Act declares them as 'institutions of national importance' and specifies their framework for governance, powers and duties. The Gandhinagar campus was among the six IITs set up in 2008. Another two were added the next year.

While the Lok Sabha passed the bill for incorporating the new IITs under the act, it is yet to be cleared by Rajya Sabha. Because of the uncertainty, the IITs are unable to fix a date for their first convocation. Traditionally, IITs host their annual convocations in August. "We are hoping the Parliament moves quickly," said a director of one of the new IITs. "It takes time to plan a convocation that meets IIT standards."

The first batch of 30 MTech students of IIT-Hyderabad graduated in 2011. The students are waiting for their degree certificates. Prof. Uday Desai, Director IIT-Hyderabad, said, "We have given the students provisional degree certificates for the time being. With the Lok Savha having cleared the bill, half the job is done. We hope that the Rajya Sabha clears the bill this time." A total of 160 students will be graduating from the IIT-Hyderabad this year.

Some 600 under-graduate and post-graduate students will be passing out from the new IITs this year. IIT-Gandhinagar has 88 undergraduate students.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), February 29, 2012

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Core Education investing $2 million in academic centre in UAE

Education services provider Core Education & Technologies is investing $2 million on an academic centre in Ras al- Khaimah, in partnership with the Government of Ras al-Khaimah and Birla Institute of Technology (BIT), Ranchi. Core will take over the operations of the existing Ras al-Khaimah Institute of Engineering, which currently offers architecture and engineering courses. The company will upgrade facilities at the institute and also add courses in business administration – one-year executive MBA, two-year formal MBA and three-year BBA programmes, in tie-up with a few Canadian universities. The institute will henceforth be called CORE International Institute of Higher Education.

““The UAE Government is aggressive is improving its higher education quality. We will take care of the running of the campus – from marketing the courses and upgrading facilities to refurbishing the infrastructure and collecting fees from students. The endeavour is to make the institute appealing to students from across the world and ensure student expectations are met,” said Mr Anshul Sonak, President, Core, in a telephonic interview with Business Line.

Core will give a global flavour to the curriculum by employing global faculty, using international case studies and promoting exchange programmes, said Mr Sonak. The management courses will start in the coming academic year. The training will be job-oriented and focus on building interoperable skills so that students can excel in any field or part of the world, said Mr Sonak. “We hope to double student strength from 350 now in two years.”

Core offers skill development and assessment solutions across the US, UK, India, Caribbean countries, Africa, Asia-Pacific and West Asia. The partnership at Ras al-Khaimah marks Core Education's entry into formal higher education. Core is also setting up a higher education institute for engineering and MBA in Hyderabad. “Out of 100 students who dot their schooling, only 11 per cent pursues higher education. This is in fact a big global issue. We are also eyeing countries in the Gulf region for higher education.”

Source: The Hindu Business Line, February 28, 2012

Gujarat to set up IITRM to meet demand of infra engineers

Anticipating an increase in the demand for engineers in infrastructure development, the Gujarat government has proposed to set up an Institute of Infrastructure, Technology, Research and Management (IITRM) in the rapidly industrialising state.

To cater to need of specific demand of trained manpower in infrastructure and to provide a platform for research based institute in the field of engineering, it is considered necessary to have a dedicated autonomous institute with powers of a University, said Gujarat's Minister for Education Ramanlal Vora, referring to setting up of IITRM. "This will lead to the development of centre of excellence in the area of infrastructure engineering and will boost technical education in the state," he said.

"Foreseeing a demand for engineers in the infra space over the next few years the government has decided to set up a varsity on the lines of Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University (PDPU)," Gujarat's Principal Secretary Education Department Hasmukh Adhia said. "The capital support to this proposed varsity shall be given by the government. It would charge normal fee from the students to meet its recurring expenditures from the fee structure, and gain financial autonomy," Adhia said.

A bill to pave way for the establishment of university called --- IITRM --- was tabled during the budget session of the state assembly recently. The bill, if enacted and brought into operation, will involve an estimated expenditure of Rs. 18 crore (Rs. 180 million) in FY 2011-12 and a sum of Rs. 67 crore (Rs. 670 million) in FY 2012-13, of which Rs. 47 crore (Rs. 470 million) will be capital expenditure.

The institute thrusts shall be on research. It is expected to accommodate around 2,000 students in campus, once fully operational, Adhia said. Out of these, 50 per cent students will be under graduates and remaining from PG Doctoral and sponsored courses in the area of engineering and management.

In the backdrop of rapid industrialisation here, the demand for engineers in Gujarat is touted to be higher as compared to the other states. The state engineering colleges presently offer courses across 32 segments such as aviation, textile processing, automobile, amongst other at nominal fee of Rs. 3,000 to 4,000 per annum. In the recently tabled budget, the Gujarat government increased its planned expenditure by 33 per cent to Rs. 50,599 crore (Rs. 505.99 billion) in FY:2012-13 against plan size of Rs 38,000 crore (Rs. 380 billion) in the last fiscal.

Source: Press Trust of India (PTI), February 28, 2012

SBI slashing rates on education loans - Students benefit

With the country's largest public sector bank, State Bank of India (SBI), reducing the interest rate on education loans by up to one percentage point, it will certainly benefit a large section of students who fund their higher education expenses through bank loans. Since SBI is a major player in the education loan segment, it will also force other banks to reduce their rates and pop up the education loan segment in the country.

For education loans up to Rs. 400,000, SBI will charge an interest rate of 13.50% against the current 13.75%. For loans between Rs. 400,000 and Rs. 750,000, the interest rate will be 13.25%, against 14.25%. Interest rates on loans beyond Rs. 750,000 will be 12%. Moreover, the bank will offer 0.50% additional concession for girl students and 1% concession will be given for the entire tenure of loan, if full interest is serviced during the moratorium period.

Currently, banks offer education loans to students with Indian nationality in the age group of 16-35 years. For availing loans below Rs. 400,000, an applicant does not have to give any security and a third-party guarantor or security amount. The guarantor of the loan could be the applicant's parent, working sibling or even spouse, if he or she is working, and in-laws or other close relatives. Banks have ensured special rules for meritorious student. Apart from easier disbursement, a meritorious student can even bargain with the bank for a lower rate of interest.

Banks in the last one year have been very cautious in the education loan segment as defaults have been rising because of lower employment opportunities. Moreover, with the drop in the rupee, the demand for education loan, too, dropped. While SBI has reduced its interest rates, the rates charged by other banks varies from 14% to 17% for loans up to Rs. 400,000 for a period of seven years and between 12-15% for loans above Rs. 400,000 for a period of seven years.

All banks charge a processing fee, which can vary between 0.5 % and 2.5 % of the total loan amount the student is applying for. The maximum loan amount a student an avail for studies in India is Rs. 1 million and Rs. 2 million for studying abroad. Some banks offer discounts on the interest rate for female students. One can claim income-tax deductions for repayment of an education loan for higher education under Section 80E of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

For documentation, the bank will require proof of identity, age and address. The student will have to furnish the admission letter of the institution and the fee structure of the particular course for each semester or annual charges. If the student is going abroad for the course for which he is seeking the loan, then he will have to give the passport details, GMATor GRE score, total expenses for the course and all other travel documents to the bank. Bankers say a borrower should tie up the loan after getting the visa approval. In case of a co-applicant, the same documents plus income proof have to be given to the bank

The government provides full interest subsidy during the period of moratorium on loans taken by students belonging to economically weaker sections from scheduled banks, where the annual parental income does not exceed Rs. 450,000 per year. The scheme is applicable for students pursuing technical and professional courses in India. After the period of moratorium is over, the interest on the outstanding loan amount is paid by the student.

The interest subsidy under the scheme is available to students only once, either for the first undergraduate degree course or the postgraduate degree/diploma course, and will not be available to those who either discontinue the course midway or those who have been expelled from the institution on disciplinary or academic grounds.

Unlike home, auto or personal loans, those taking education loans do not have to do immediate repayments and can start after completing their course and securing a source of income. The moratorium period of the loan is the course period plus one year or six months after getting a job, whichever is earlier. Banks usually keep a window of 5-7 years for repaying the loan and can give an extension of another two years if the borrower has a good repaying history.

To make education loans more affordable to students, the Indian Bank's Association (IBA) is currently reviewing the current structure and will suggest a longer time period to repay the loan for students who have had a brilliant academic record. However, getting a loan may tougher for those who do not have a sound past-academic record and even those who pay hefty capitation fee to get into engineering, medical or management courses.

Source: The Financial Express, February 28, 2012

SBI cuts education loan rates by up to 100 bps

The country’s largest lender, State Bank of India (SBI), on Monday cut interest rates on education loans by up to 100 basis points. “To extend financial assistance to students pursuing higher education in India and abroad, at affordable rate, the bank has reduced rates for loans up to Rs. 10 lakh (Rs. 1 million) for studies in India and up to Rs. 20 lakhs (Rs. 2 million) for studies abroad effective from today,” SBI said in a release.

While the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) left policy rates untouched at its last meeting, banks have been trimming lending rates on specific products to attract borrowers. Education loans are a part of SBI's long-term strategy to woo youngsters. The idea is to lend to the youth and, later, sell them other products.

A 25-bps rate cut was introduced for education loans of up to Rs. 400,000 and above Rs. 750,000. The new rates for these loans would be 13.5% and 12%, respectively. For loans between Rs. 400,00 and Rs. 750,000, the interest rate has been reduced by 100 bps to 13.25%. The base rate of the bank is 10%. Under the SBI scholar loan scheme, the bank extend loans to students joining elite institutions like IIMs/IITs/NITs. At present, 111 institutes are covered under this scheme and loans up to Rs. 1.5 million are given, said the bank.

“Loans are sanctioned without any security, except parent or guardian as co-borrower. The rate of interest under this scheme has also been reduced by 25-bps. Thus, the new rate of interest is 200 bps above the base rate,” it said. In addition, the bank provides 0.50% additional concession for girl students and 1% concession for the entire tenure of loan, if the full interest is serviced during the moratorium period, including the course duration.

Source: The Financial Express, February 28, 2012

AICTE may bar new engineering, management colleges from 2014

With supply outstripping demand for engineering and management seats, the country may stop new professional colleges coming up from 2014. This firm stand was taken recently at a meeting of the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the country's inspector which grants permission to new professional technical colleges. The decision follows requests from several states that want the Council to reject fresh proposals for more colleges.

While many states wanted the AICTE to immediately stop accepting applications, the process of setting up a college, like buying land and building the infrastructure, starts two years before a college trust approaches the AICTE for permission. "So, we have decided that two years from now, we will review the situation and may stop accepting proposals for all new technical colleges," said AICTE Chairman S S Mantha.

States such as Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Haryana and Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra told the AICTE to not to clear proposals for new institutes after waking up to the fact that the number of vacant seats in engineering and management colleges has risen dramatically over the last three years. India is now home to 3,393 engineering colleges that have 1.486 million seats; today there are 3,900 management schools with a total student intake of 350,000. Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh have about 70% tech institutes. When admissions closed last year, AICTE estimated that nearly 300,000 seats were unfilled.

Despite the AICTE's decision, many states have decided not to allow colleges to start this year, with the state governments and the council embarking on a collision course. This year, the AICTE received a total of 204 applications for new engineering institutes and 86 for MBA colleges. "This year, we saw an interest in colleges again wanting to invest in engineering education. However, applications from the southern states, which have witnessed the expansion, are down to a trickle," added Mantha. Andhra Pradesh, which has the largest number of engineering colleges in India, has dispatched merely eight applications this year and a similar number for starting MBA colleges.

However, over time, with no plan, growth has been skewed, but if AICTE's optimism is anything to go by, the country will now see professional colleges springing up in areas like the north-east and in central India, which are yet suffering from low enrolment in the professional education sector.
Edupreneurs (education entrepreneurs) from Maharashtra are bullish on the growth in this sector. Maharashtra has a rich pool of 348 engineering institutes and 408 MBA colleges. And the fact that 34,000 seats did not have any takers last year did not play spoilsport. The AICTE received 30 applications to start engineering colleges and 15 for MBA institutes from Maharashtra this year. "We have received the highest number of applications from Maharashtra. But, we have an impressive 307 applicants (almost 50% of the entire pool) for starting polytechnics (colleges that offer diploma in engineering) from across India," added Mantha.

However, overall the slowdown is perceptible: two years ago, the AICTE received 2,176 applications to start new professional degree colleges and this time around, the number stands at a paltry 362. And two years from now, there may be no new colleges that will come up.

Source: The Times of India, February 28, 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

China far ahead of India in science, says PM

China is in "many ways far ahead" of India in the field of science, says a concerned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who last month pledged to more than double the country's R&D spending to $8 billion a year by 2017. In an interview to the prestigious US Science magazine, Singh reiterated his concern that India's relative position in the world of science has been declining over the past few decades and it has been overtaken by countries like China. "China is in many ways far ahead of India," he said.

Asked if India is competing with China in the field of scientific research, Singh said: "Well, we are competing, yes and no."

"India and China are engaged in a stage of development where we have both to compete and cooperate. We are the two largest developing countries and the two fastest growing countries. China is our great neighbour. Now, we've had in the past problems way back in the 1960s, but we are finding pathways to promote cooperation," Singh said.

His comments follow his recent pledge to hike R&D expenditures from around $3 billion last year to $8 billion a year by 2017. During the interview, the Prime Minister laid out his vision for science in India and commented on controversial topics, such as genetically-modified food.

Singh said that Indian scientists need to focus on agriculture sector too. "We need to pay a lot more attention to the development of our agriculture. "That will accelerate the tempo of rural development, which will help to increase the opportunities for our scientists to work in rural areas in development of water-management technologies, in development of environment-friendly technologies," he said.

Source: The Indian Express, February 27, 2012

NPCIL outreach activities go up 10-fold, target youth

Stung by protests against the nuclear power programme across the country post Fukushima in March last year, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) initiated a massive and deliberate campaign last year to win public support and confidence. Accordingly, says NPCIL, its outreach activities, which includes visits to plant sites, has been stepped up 10-fold with the youth as its primary target.

For instance, if programmes and lectures on nuclear power at educational institutions were earlier limited to once a month, it has gone up to 10 per month after Fukushima. Data collated by the NPCIL shows that in the last 10 months, its representatives have gone to 116 educational institutions across the country. One glance at the figures reveal that with protests refusing to die down at upcoming plant sites in Koodankulam and Jaitapur, the activities have been significantly stepped up in the past four-five months.

In January 2012, 23 lectures have been organised at schools and colleges, and 36 in December 2011. It covers institutions located in states or areas where the nuclear power plants are operating. The lectures are addressed to groups ranging from 25 to 3,000. The institutes include IIT-Bombay, IIT-Patna, IIT-Madras, St Holy Academy (Hisar), Christ College (Bangalore), St Joseph Engineering College (Chennai), Government PTC College (Tapi) Government Engineering College (Jabalpur), DY Patil University (Kolhapur), Pune Government Engineering College, Queen’s Convent College (Lucknow).

“The programmes at educational institutions as well as visits to nuclear power plants have gone up 10-fold in the past one year. This was meant to create awareness among people about the nuclear power programme and the safety standards maintained by us in light of Fukushima and subsequent apprehensions in peoples’ minds,” said Ranjit Kakde, general manager (corporate communications), NPCIL.

Similarly, 75 site visits have been facilitated from September 2011 to January 2012. The numbers, say experts, stand out simply because such regular visits were not a practice earlier. “Such enthusiasm on the part of the nuclear fraternity to readily facilitate visits was unheard of prior to the Fukushima disaster. Lack of initiatives to reach out to the people is one of the reasons why protests or resistance to nuclear power programme have escalated so much.

The apprehensions about the safety of nuclear power have highlighted the urgent need for India’s nuclear establishment to connect with the common man,” said a senior academician. It includes visits to atomic power sites at Tarapur, Kakrapar, Kaiga, and others. The groups were diverse, including students, CISF personnel, Navy doctors, families, scientists, teachers and even government officials. The nuclear establishment has also taken recourse to books and publications to woo people and clear misconceptions. These are printed in Hindi, English, Marathi, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Gujarati.

Source: The Indian Express, February 27, 2012

Coaching firms now set eyes on ISEET pie

The government wants to check the booming coaching class business with a single test to replace multiple engineering tests. Bring it on, says the Rs. 23,000-crore (Rs. 230 billion) industry. A day after the Indian Science Engineering Eligibility Test (ISEET) was announced, the homepage of Career Point, a coaching institute based in Rajasthan’s Kota, the hub of training institutes in the country said: “Welcome ISEET 2013. Being a pioneer in adopting all changes in IIT-JEE and AIEEE, Career Point proudly announces admission for the ISEET course.”

The ISEET, expected to roll out next year, will eliminate India’s two largest engineering entrance tests — the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and the All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE). Institutes are quickly adapting to the upcoming regime, which was designed in part to check their rampant growth. India, which has a Rs. 1.8-trillion education and training market, produced 800,000 engineers last year.

“We expect more students because of the gap between school teaching and competition, which is the application of concepts which needs practice. However, now, students will have to appear for the aptitude test besides the advanced learning test,” said RL Trikha, Director, FIIT JEE, the largest player in the engineering coaching business. Over 20,000 students have signed up at the institute this year, with the number of candidates growing 10-15% every year.

ISEET will test comprehension, critical thinking and logical reasoning, along with problem-solving ability in basic science subjects. The two tests will together indicate a candidate’s scholastic level and aptitude for science and engineering and give 40% weight to class 12 Board exams. This means coaching centres will have to expand their curricula to include school syllabus - something which FIIT JEE offers in its two-year integrated school programme called Pinnacle. “In the last three years, a large number of candidates is common to IIT-JEE and AIEEE rank lists. The ISEET, which allocates weight to marks in class 12 exams will help students focus on academics,” said Satya Narayanan, Chairman, CL Educate (previously Career Launcher).

Brilliant Tutorials is the platform partner for CL. While the bulk of Brilliant’s 40,000 students are IIT aspirants, 8,500 out of 100,000 CL students are engineering aspirants. The industry feels the coaching class business will continue to thrive. “Coaching classes are related to the aspirations of students and there will be fierce competition for the remaining 60%, after the 40% weight to school exams. The government may not be completely successful in controlling the business,” noted Shalini Sharma, Head, Higher Education at the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

CL’s Narayanan said with the new test, there will be no escaping the school syllabus. His institute will start offering coaching in school curricula soon. “As long as such competitive exams remain and the number of students increase, they will always need extra coaching to perform better than others. We have been changing our coaching in line with the changing patterns of engineering exams and aptitude training is something we impart to all our students,” said Ajay Antony, Course Director, IIT-JEE exam at Triumphant Institute of Management Education (T.I.M.E.). However, coaching institutes are divided on the issue of fees. While Antony says there could be a 10-15% increase, others say fees might decline.

Source: The Financial Express, February 27, 2012

Kota university launches police studies course

Vardhaman Mahaveer Open University (VMOU) in Kota announced the launch of a unique post-graduate course in police studies on Sunday. The two-year course to be conducted through distance education will start in July this year. VMOU Vice-Chancellor Naresh Dadhich said in Jaipur that the course would be beneficial for students looking to join the police and security forces, in-service candidates as well as those seeking employment in the private security sector. Former Border Security Force Director-General M. L. Kumawat has assisted the university in preparing the course material.

Prof. Dadhich said the course would help enhance the candidates' knowledge of internal security and law and order and widen their vision about policing. “Policing is an important subject in our society. After passing [this] course, students would be well-versed in both theoretical and practical knowledge.”

Pointing out that VMOU was the first open university in the country to start a course of this nature, Prof. Dadhich said the traditional system of training for about eight months after recruitment to police service was considered insufficient. “Our course is designed to supplement the gaps and boost the confidence of candidates aspiring to join security forces,” he added.

The Vice-Chancellor affirmed that private security agencies would also greatly benefit from the new course as they would be able to draw human resource having sound theoretical knowledge necessary for their work. After starting the course, the university will write to the State government requesting a preference to students of the course in appointment to the police service. Prof. Dadhich said a similar preference with 10 per cent additional marks is given in Gujarat to the students completing a police studies course from Raksha Shakti University.

The curriculum for the course has been designed with the help of experts and senior police officers. They include Rajasthan Police Academy Director Bhupendra Singh Yadav, Mahrashtra Police Academy Deputy Director Nikhil Gupta, Raksha Shakti University Vice-Chancellor O. P. Mathur and P. C. Mathur and P. D. Sharma of Rajasthan University's Political Science Department.

Source: The Hindu, February 27, 2012

Educational Institutions Regulatory Commission a farce: Himachal CPI-M

The Himachal unit of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) has called the Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Commission, a body constituted by the State government to look into the functioning of private educational institutions including the scores of recently opened private universities, a complete farce. In a press release released in Shimla on Sunday, the party said the so-called Regulatory Commission serves the interests of the government only and that it has taken any action against the erring private universities and colleges. The party has said it is eyewash, as the meetings of the Regulatory Commission are chaired by the Chief Minister instead of its own Chairman.

The release says that is blatantly being subservient to the State government and that it has not penalised the private teaching shops, a majority of which are openly violating the educational norms. The party has alleged that some of these institutions are admitting students for professional degrees in Engineering and Management immediately after the 10th standard, even though the law clearly says that such courses can only be joined after the completing 12th standard in the State or elsewhere.

The CPI-M has demanded that the hefty fees charged from the students who were lured into applying for such courses should be reimbursed and they should also be compensated. It has also demanded an immediate ban on some institutions that are offering M.Phil and Ph.D degrees without having the adequate facilities and professors. The release says that they are in violation of Section 11 of the Educational Regulatory Commission Act which states that such institutions should be closed down if they do not meet the proper standards laid down by the government. The party has insisted on more responsive functioning by the Commission and less interference from the government.

The Left here has consistently opposed the privatisation and commercialisation of higher education by the incumbent BJP government. The Congress has supported such institutions when in power but has now also begun opposing the mushrooming of private universities in the hill State. “Though not opposed to privatisation we would re-evaluate the credentials of private universities when we come to power”, said former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh in a recent media interaction.

Source: The Hindu, February 27, 2012

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Government's dilemma over UGC chief selection

The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) is in a dilemma on how to deal with the piquant situation that has arisen due to the ‘arbitrary' recommendation of the search and selection committee for the appointment of a full time chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC).

The three-member selection group of experts — Madhav Menon, Goverdhan Mehta and K Srinath Reddy — had earlier in the week forwarded a two-member panel for the prestigious position, once held by PM Manmohan Singh. The two panelists are former vice chancellor of Hyderabad University Seyed E Hasnain and director of Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM-B) Pankaj Chandra. The two were picked up from a larger panel of five.

Normally, any selection committee picks a panel of three to enable the government to make the final selection. But in this case, the search committee deliberately or inadvertently presented a fait accompli to the government and forced it to consider only a single name — that of Chandra. The ministry will find it difficult to send the other name to the department of personnel for the process to be completed as there is a vigilance inquiry pending against Hasnain and he cannot be considered till he is cleared.

In other words, the panel has given no room for the government to consider anyone else for the post. If this happens, charges of manipulation are certainly going to be made especially because Chandra's name was not among the 80 nominations received in response to the public advertisement but was added in the final stage apparently by a panel member as “prerogative'” of the committee.

The other point being discussed is how the selection panel could not find a third name knowing that nominating a single name could lead to scrapping of the panel as HRD minister Kapil Sibal will be the first one to see the adverse legal implications of such a selection. Second, the PM will also want the process to be transparent. Third, Chandra's selection, which is inevitable, will also mean that the UGC will be headed by someone who is not from the university system but from the IIMs, which only awards diplomas and not degrees.

The committee, which took an year to decide, has finally come out with a panel, making the government's task difficult. The search for the chairman began in the light of the unpredictable status of the proposed higher education research bill towards establishing the National Commission on Higher Education Research (NCHER). The ministry's view could not be ascertained as top officials were unavailable for comment.

Source: Hindustan Times, February 25, 2012

Students should not ignore Board exams in favour of IIT-JEE: Sibal

Union Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal on Friday said the pattern of Indian Institute of Technology Joint Entrance Exam (IIT-JEE), 2013, was being changed so that “students do not get away from school scholastic system”. “An aberration has occurred between those who can afford to go for coaching for IIT-JEE and brilliant students who can’t afford to compete with them,” Sibal said.

According to the new scheme being finalised, 40 per cent marks will be based on the school board exam results. The move will ensure that students pay equal attention to Board exams while preparing for JEE. Sibal said there will be two exams for IIT-JEE — the Main Exam, which will quiz students on their knowledge of Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics, and the Advanced Exam to assess the depth of learning of a candidate.

The minister was speaking at a function in IIT-Delhi to mark the end of the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of the institute. Sibal also said the question papers for IIT-JEE will be set by IIT faculty so that the “brand of IIT is not diluted”. "As requested by the IITs, we are not changing the name of the examination. We will continue to call it the Joint Entrance Exam," he said.

He announced that the ministry (of human resource development) was considering a new process for appointing directors wherein “candidates will be asked to submit a vision for their tenure, and, once selected, their contribution at the end of their term will be assessed so as to increase accountability and also to make sure that the system delivers”.

“Although the MHRD wants to implement the new changes from 2013, the states have expressed reservations,” said an official. A task force headed by IIT-Kanpur Director Professor S G Dhande has been formed to look into the modalities of setting up the IIT-JEE scheme. The task force will have to ensure that states coordinate the release of Class XII exam results and also work out a system to equate the Board marks on a 40-point scale.

Source: The Indian Express, February 25, 2012

Friday, February 24, 2012

Now, outsource research work to scientists of top universities

A company that employs a number of researchers to work on a complex problem can instead outsource it to scientists and researchers from top Indian academic institutions to find a solution. That's what Xerox India Research, the youngest global research lab of the $22-billion leading company, is doing.

Through a concept called Open Innovation, Xerox India Research has brought together top-notch scientists, along with the company's researchers and engineers, to work on complex projects that Xerox wants to implement. And the partnership is not restricted to the India centre, but researchers from global Xerox Research labs have access to the “best of the Indian brains” in this global hub, Ms. Meera Sampath, Director of Xerox Research Centre India, recently told Business Line.

Open Innovation is today the core of Xerox India research. The centre has eight partnerships with top academic institutions, including IIT-Madras, IIT-Bombay, IIT-Kharagpur, Indian Institute of Science, IIT-Mandi and Srishti Labs. Research partnerships cover a broad range of topics such as cloud computing, services marketplace design, multi-lingual technology development, personalised information delivery, video-based patient monitoring and rural technology initiatives, she said.

Even before Xerox started its research centre in India in 2010, the company decided that this lab would be built on a model of ‘open innovation' and started working with local universities. Xerox has such a model in the US and Europe but in India this will be the fundamental to how “we operate,” she said. Ms. Sampath said the India centre acts as a traditional research lab with its own researchers collaborating with colleagues in other global labs. In addition, the lab is a central hub to connect people from the Europe, US, with institutes like IIT-Madras, IIT-Kharaghpur and the School of Design.

“One of the goals internally is that every researcher hired in India will not only work on their core research work, but also with one or two open innovation projects. For us, it is not the size of the people we have inside the lab, but it is the strength and size of this whole ecosystem that we are building. Every university gives an opportunity for us to work with one or two professors and three or four students,” she said.

It is not just more people working for you, but also tapping in to a skill that “we may not develop as a core competency in-house.” Within the company we have researchers working on cloud computing but for things like user design it makes sense to tap experts outside and leverage their expertise. For the students too, this helps as they are working on projects that are inspired by the business needs,” she said.

Source: The Hindu Business Line, February 24, 2012

IT companies look beyond engineering graduates

An engineering degree is considered by many as the ticket to employment in the $69-billion information technology-information technology-enabled services (IT-ITeS) industry. But the reality is a bit different. With the IT-ITES industry looking for niche talent in testing and infrastructure management, which do not necessarily require engineering graduates, only 20% of the 900,000-odd engineering graduates every year are being recruited by the industry. The fresh graduates are also being attracted by the manufacturing and automotive sectors.

“It is a misconception that the IT industry employs most of the engineers that graduate each year. A significant number goes to sectors like manufacturing and automotive as well. It would be safe to say that close to 20% of the engineering graduates are absorbed by the industry. And 75-90% of the talent in the IT industry would have an engineering degree,” said NASSCOM President Som Mittal.

While 30% of the talent in the country comprises engineering graduates, 46% are non-engineering graduates and the rest are specialists like chartered accountants, CPAs, doctors, lawyers, PhDs and actuaries, who are in high demand from the IT industry. The trend, according to both NASSCOM and technology schools, is moving towards such niche talent as the industry is now offering complex and end-to-end services.

IIT-Madras was approached by 175 IT companies in 2011, whereas this year the number reduced to 138. Commenting on the number of engineers joining IT companies, an official from IIT-Kharagpur said: “This year five students from our computer science branch were placed in IT companies, against 26 in other/ non IT sectors. Around 15-20% of engineering students are being placed in the IT sector in the last few years.”

Analysts feel that the recent profiles that are novel in the IT industry necessarily do not need engineers and thus the matrix is changing. Today, the industry directly employs 2.77 million professionals of whom safely 60% are hardcore engineering graduates.

“Earlier IT companies hired close to 100% of their staff as engineers, now it has reached 90% and soon it will be 70% in the next two to five years. The BPO sector is emerging and there are new processes like testing and infrastructure management which necessarily do not need engineers,” said Zensar Technologies CEO Ganesh Natarajan. He added that most of these engineers, roughly around 400,000-450,000 of the 900,000, are not employable by the IT industry as well. Moreover, 20% of the engineering graduates also go for higher education every year. Thus, the IT-ITes sector has to choose from the residual. “Many graduates from other disciplines (such as mathematics and computing) also opted for IT profile offered by various organisations,” said a student from IIT-Guwahati where 37% of the placed students joined the IT sector, including organisations like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Adobe and InMobi.

“Though the employability rate in the IT industry was 25% as per our study in 2005, we believe that the situation is better now because of initiatives by tech companies who have started their own certification programmes,” said NASSCOM senior vice-president Sangeeta Gupta.

An official from IIT-Kharagpur said: “Chunk of the students prefer consultancy and core jobs over IT jobs. IT sector is mostly confined to students from the IT department and few others from other departments.” The demand for consultancy jobs is very high. From the past few years, the trends show that students tend to drift away from IT jobs. Those who are interested in further studies, work in core sector for a few years and those interested in pursuing an MBA, go for the consultancy jobs, the official said.

Source: The Financial Express, February 24, 2012

Single national engineering entrance exam to replace multiple tests draws ire of IIT faculty

The decision to hold a single entrance test for all centrally-run engineering institutes from next year has stirred a hornet’s nest, with three bluechip IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology) writing to the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) opposing the proposal. Faculties of IITs in Delhi, Mumbai and Kanpur have voiced their concerns, saying introducing the test without normalising marks across state boards in too little time could affect current Class 12 students and lead to a bunching of candidates at the top of the rank list. The Indian Science Engineering Eligibility Test (ISEET), which will eliminate multiple admission tests including the IIT-JEE, is expected to reduce stress on students. The three IITs that have protested, along with the IITs in Kharagpur and Guwahati, are counted as the best among India’s 15 IITs.

The institutes’ primary concern is the impact on the batch of Class 12 students who appear for IIT-JEE and other exams this year. At an emergency senate meeting last week, IIT-Delhi faculty members expressed concern that introducing ISEET from next year will “not be feasible and will be unfair to the current class 12 students”. This is largely because while two attempts are allowed for JEE, the current batch of Class 12 is unaware that in the new scheme of things, their board scores will carry 40% weight. “If they do not make it in 2012, then in 2013 their Class 12 marks will get counted but they were not aware of this when they appeared for Class 12,” states a note prepared by the faculty, a copy of which is with FE.

IITs are also miffed over providing weightage for Class 12 examinations without specifying a formula for normalising marks from India’s 42 secondary school boards. The JEE system so far has used Class 12 marks only as a cut-off. The institutes worry that a deadline has been set to implement the normalisation, without specifying how the process would take place. Normalisation has not been tried even in 15% of the boards and even data prepared by the Ramasami Commission evaluating the feasibility of the JEE revamp have data from only four school boards.

The institutes feel there should be at least one dry run of normalisation before implementing the formula. “It would be advisable to have a dry run. Any changed system should come after the consent of the IIT senates,” says Prof. Sanjeev Sanghi, President of the Faculty Forum of IIT-Delhi. Normalisation is seen as a herculean task involving obtaining data from all boards representing a heterogenous mix with different levels of complexity, grading and scores, and that too by the first or second week of June. The experience of BITS, Pilani indicates that such an exercise was turning lop-sided in favour of a couple of state boards and hence that Institute shifted to an entrance exam. IITs are also apprehensive about the methodology and reported malpractices in some state board exams.

The IITs feel that at best, the normalised/percentile scores should be used as a filter and not contribute to final scores. The IIT-Kanpur senate resolution passed earlier this month is firmly of the opinion that board marks should not be used for ranking. IITs also feel that if expectation levels in different exams are different, a single test is not the cure. Such an exam will lead to bunching at the top with perhaps over a thousand students could score the same marks, complicating the rank allotment process. It is also being felt that the single test won’t be able to reduce stress or curb the so-called ‘menace’ of coaching. In fact, if school exam scores are included, coaching classes could get more business. As long as there is a big gap between the number of seats in good colleges and the number of students, it will be difficult to stop candidates from seeking extra help.

The premier IITs have proposed a two-tier JEE with a first level of multiple-choice questions (MCQ) and the second one a subjective type exam. The MCQ exam should be used only as a screening test and a second exam based on subjective type questions in physics, chemistry and mathematics administered to a manageable number of students (say, 40,000 to 50,000). In addition, if it is strongly desired by all, there could be a component of Class 12 marks, either suitably normalised or on a percentile basis, which could be weighed along with the MCQ exam, but this score is only to be used as a filter for the second exam. Finally, the responsibility of conducting these exams should lie with IITs. The IIT Bombay faculty forum meeting held a week ago recommended that the undergraduate admission process should go back to the two-tier format that existed earlier.

IIT faculties also feel slighted that they were kept in the dark by the ministry while taking such a major decision. IIT-Delhi note categorically points out that “such important decisions are being taken without proper discussions” with IITs, which are not only directly impacted by this change but will also be nodal in implementing it. “The immaculate reputation of the JEE is due to the commitment and involvement of the IIT faculty at all stages. So, if there is a problem with the JEE, the solution too should come from IITs,” said a senior faculty member of a leading IIT.

Source: The Financial Express, February 24, 2012

Offbeat courses at top Indian B-schools

Students get an opportunity to stretch their learning muscles, with innovative programmes and live interactions that help them understand the "real" world better and function in challenging times. Among these are programmes teaching leadership through sports, and imparting entrepreneurship skills to rural people. Read on the programmes offered by these top business schools - Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore (IIM-B), Rajiv Gandhi Indian Institute of Management-Shillong (RGIIM-S), Xavier Institute of Management-Bhubaneswar (XIMB), Indian Institute of Management-Ranchi (IIM-R), Indian Institute of Management-Calcutta (IIM-C).

Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM-B)
Programme: Learnings from Sports
Duration: Two days
Starting In: March 2012
Growth opportunities: Helps senior managers deal with different managerial skills and handle groups, which is part of their job.
Class Strength: The enrollment has started, and IIM-B and TENVIC have approached different companies. They expect at least 25-30 senior managers. If it succeeds, it will be a twice-a-year or three times-a-year feature.
Objective: To give participants an exposure to innovative concepts altruistic mentoring, performance-based leadership, managing the ups and downs of the game, cross-training , and equipping them with skills beyond their role. There will be classroom discussions, interactive sessions, panel discussions where industry experts and sports personalities from corporate India will be facilitators.
Main content: Learning from others, integrating with the environment and improving management
Genesis: The programme took shape when two IIM-B alumni, who work for cricketer Anil Kumble-owned sports company TENVIC, suggested using sports to hone leadership skills as one of their executive management programmes. This had been done in the US before but never in India. Participants will be guided on leadership, how to manage multiple layers and deal with being the "captain" of a team or even "just an executive."

Rajiv Gandhi Indian Institute of Management, Shillong (RGIIM-S)
Programme: Executive post graduate programme in international business
Projected Class Strength: 45
Duration: 12 months
Started in: April 2011
Objective: Produce leaders who can handle the current market turbulence and dynamic corporate environment effectively.
Job Opportunities: Strategic roles and senior positions in companies operating in emerging markets with a focus on India and China.
Content: The programme focuses on leadership skills essential for senior management positions. The curriculum is adapted from best practices from Asian countries. It is a blend of basic management courses and specialised modules. Another aspect is the training under Mystique Management and Mind Mapping through outdoor learning camps.
Targets: Professionals with atleast three years' work experience, preferably internationally. IIM-S has entered into an MoU with Ocean University of China to start this programme, which involves a six-month stay and internship in China.
Compensation: Annual salary could range between $36,000 and $120,000.

Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar (XIMB)
Programme: Three-Continent Master of Global Management
Duration: 12 months
Started in: September 2011
Content: The Euro 40,000 programme, a result of a partnership between XIMB, Antwerp Management School, Belgium and Fordham Graduate School of Business, New York, has been structured to draw upon the strengths of each country. For India, it is bottomof-the-pyramid and social entrepreneurship; for New York, it is finance and innovation and for Antwerp, it is marketing in a multicultural society.
Objective: Create global managers in the true sense of the term.
Targets: High-potential recent university graduates. The current batch consists of 16 students from Europe, two from the US, two from China, one from Indonesia, Turkey and India respectively.
Job Opportunities: All three institutes offer career services, and almost all the roles are in general management.
Compensation: Still early to say as the first batch is yet to be placed. But in India, it is likely to start at Rs. 1.2 million onwards, and will be more in the other countries.
Genesis: The idea was born when the deans of these institutes met. They felt real global managers are born when students immerse themselves in the local culture and business, and imbibe the experience of three continents.

Indian Institute of Management, Ranchi
Programme: Certificate course on 'Barefoot Manager'
Duration: 15 days
Starting in: July 2012
Targets: Micro entrepreneurs and panchayat officials. The video-based programme will impart management concepts to even illiterate people. While higher education takes people away from their villages, this one encourages people to stay back.
Class Strength: The target enrolment for 2012-13 is 1,500
Content: Evaluating business opportunities, consumer-oriented business philosophy, product design, distribution, promotion, pricing, accounting, sustainable consumption and production, ethics and society.
Job Opportunities: Self-employment
Plans: IIM-R is getting voluntary organisations, microfinance companies and the government to help roll out the programme. There are plans to make this certificate mandatory for benefits from the government or micro loans from banks.

Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta
Programme: PG Programme for Executives on Visionary Leadership for Manufacturing
Duration: 12 months
Started in: August 27, 2007
Class Strength: 34
Objectives: Provide skill-based training to transform mid-level managers in the Indian manufacturing industry into visionary leaders.
Content: 36 weeks' classroom interaction, case studies, tutorials, laboratory sessions, project work at IIM-C, IIT-M and IIT-K; eight weeks' internship in industry; three to four weeks' industry visits in India and abroad
Genesis: The programme is based on a partnership between IIM-C, IIT-K , IIT-M and CII. The National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council plays a catalytic role, with support from Japan International Cooperation Agency.
Job Opportunities: Students of the first four batches have been placed in leading Indian companies.

Source: The Economic Times, February 24, 2012

Coming soon, UGC degree in vocational education

A bachelor’s degree in vocational education is likely to be introduced in the University Grants Commission (UGC) affiliated institutions in 2012. The standing committee of UGC which met here two days ago has formally approved a proposal to introduce a bachelors degree in vocational education.This is to get a final nod from the commission. Once approved, a college student can pick up a bachelors degree in art, science, commerce or vocational education. “We propose to add vocational education as one of the specific degrees of UGC from 2012. The finer details are however being worked on,” acting Chairman of UGC Ved Prakash told HT.

The All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) had earlier written a letter to UGC requesting them to introduce vocational education at college level. AICTE Chairman S S Mantha said that the curriculum of the new courses will be put on the website by March 10. “This will boost employment for college graduates. The student will have to choose a sector and a specific specialization from each sector. Initially 10 sectors have been chosen including tourism, construction, printing, telecom, IT, mobile and communication," Mantha said.

To begin with, Mantha said, the proposal is to have five sectors in each college. Each sector can have a maximum of 100 students which means initially a college can have 500 students for vocational education. Elaborating further, Mantha said that under entertainment sector a student can opt for specialization in theatre/stage craft or western classical dancing or even acting.

Union HRD minister Kapil Sibal had recently launched the National Vocational Education Qualification Framework for implementation in polytechnics, engineering colleges and other colleges in the university systems from 2012-13.

Source: Hindustan Times, February 24, 2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Entrance exams merged for technical institutes

Beginning 2013, all Union government-funded technical education institutes, including the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs), will admit students through a single entrance examination, Union human resource development minister Kapil Sibal said on Wednesday after a meeting with state education ministers.

With this, the government has formally merged the joint entrance examination (JEE) conducted by the IITs and the All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE) held by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). All the 30 National Institutes of Technology (NITs), the Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) and central technical universities will also adopt this national examination for admitting students. The CBSE will conduct the exam, called the joint entrance examination (JEE), and the IITs will design the test papers.

As the sole examination for all technical colleges at the undergraduate level, the JEE is expected to be the largest examination in the country with at least 1.5 million students expected to appear for it in 2013. At present, around 1.1 million take the AIEEE and nearly 500,000 sit for the IIT-JEE.

While admitting students, the colleges will have to give a maximum weight of 40% to school board marks and 60% weight to the national test. “We will normalize the state education boards class XII marks through a method already tested by the Indian Statistical Institutes,” Sibal said. Mint first reported this on Monday.

Students will get two chances to appear for the exam in the first year (2013) and the best score will be counted while applying for a seat. “Subsequently, the test will be held more number of times a year,” Sibal said. The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), too, has announced a similar a common central examination for business schools from the coming academic session.

After detailed deliberations, “the proposal for a common national examination with effect from 2013 with weightage to state board results, normalized on the basis of a percentiles formula, was endorsed ‘in principle’ by states”, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) said in a separate statement. “The states of Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, Puducherry and West Bengal sought more time to study the proposal in detail. The states may decide on adopting the same pattern for admission to state-level engineering institutions with appropriate weightages as states may think fit,” the ministry added.

“We don’t see any problem with the normalisation process,” said CBSE chairman Vineet Joshi, adding that all state boards feel that they can declare their results by the end of May to facilitate admissions through the JEE. “The new engineering entrance (examination) is a step in the right direction,” said Satya Narayanan, chairman of coaching institute C.L. Educate, earlier known as Career Launcher. “It will help the student focus on academics as the new system allocates weightage to marks in XII board.”

Meanwhile, state education ministers unanimously decided to set up community colleges near industrial clusters to provide vocational training and create employment. To begin with, the country will open 100 such colleges in the 2012-13 academic year.

Source: Mint, February 23, 2012

CET for engineering institutions from 2013

Students aspiring to join the central engineering institutions will have to write a common national examination from next year. Weightage will also be given to State Education Board results in this examination. The State governments and private institutions can, however, decide whether or not to join the common entrance test regime.

In simple terms, the government has decided to merge the Indian Institutes of Technology-Joint Entrance Examination (IIT-JEE) and the All-India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE), and hold a common test in which the best scoring students can choose an institution of their choice. It will cover admissions to 15 IITs, 30 National Institutes of Technology (NITs) and four Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs).

While Haryana, Uttarakhand, Delhi and Chandigarh have already decided to join this system, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, Puducherry and West Bengal sought more time to study the proposal in detail. All universities and institutions offering engineering courses will now use the all-India merit list for admissions.

“After detailed deliberations, the proposal for a common national examination, with effect from 2013, with weightage to the State Board results, normalised on the basis of percentile formula, was endorsed “in principle” by the States,” Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal told journalists on Wednesday at the end of a meeting of the State Education Ministers. The proposal will now have to be taken to the Central Advisory Board of Education for final endorsement.

The final merit list will be prepared, with a 40 per cent weightage for the State Board examination results and 60 per cent for the entrance test marks. The test would have two parts: main and advanced, to test the general aptitude and specific knowledge in the subject. The formula for equivalence across boards, derived by the Indian Statistical Institute, has taken into account the results of the last five years.

“The entrance test would be held twice or thrice a year and a student would be allowed three or four attempts to improve his performance. To begin with, the test will be in English and Hindi only,” Mr. Sibal said. Based on the T. Ramasami Committee recommendations, the proposal allowed the States to adopt their own weightage for State Board marks and the national examinations for admission to State-level institutions, the Minister said. Accordingly, the States could adopt 100 per cent weightage for the State Board results, as in Tamil Nadu, which would not be disturbed by the proposed arrangement.

The academic component of the main and advanced examinations would be handled by IITs, whereas the conduct of the examination would be the responsibility of the Central Board of Secondary Examination in collaboration with the State Boards.

Source: The Hindu, February 23, 2012

Ivey ties up with MDI Gurgaon

The Richard Ivey School of Business (Ivey) is expanding its footprint in India through its partnerships in areas of case study preparation, research and executive education. The Richard Ivey School of Business today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurgaon, for development of India-focussed business case studies and distribute them globally. Further, Ivey will also be developing an executive development programme for a large Indian telecom player.

The partnership with MDI will look at training high-potential faculty and case writers in case writing and case teaching process, developing a case writing and case teaching culture in Indian management schools, and expandiIn an interview with Business Standard, Carol Stephenson, Dean, Richard Ivey School of Business, said, "We are partnering with MDI Gurgaon to develop joint cases. I believe that case based learning is a highly effective and relevant teaching methodology to make management education more attuned to real world business challenges, particularly in fast-growing and emerging economies such as India."

Ivey has a partnership with Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Bangalore, for research and Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad, for developing case studies. The recent MoU is a step in that direction. At the Ivey campus in Toronto, around 10 per cent of students in its MBA programme are Indians. "We have been associated with India for a long time. The number of Indian students in our campuses is also increasing, especially after our alumni, an Indian businessman in Canada has announced 50 per cent scholarships for Indian students," informed Stephenson.

She also said that the Indian students at Ivey, Toronto campus, were looking at coming back to India. “India has the opportunities — entrepreneurial and otherwise. That is why our students are looking at the country more than ever before. Moreover, our mandatory international business trip to India, as a part of the curriculum, is raising awareness among the students about the country, encouraging them to take up jobs here,” opined the Dean. In terms of executive education, Ivey has been working with several corporates for their internal programmes. Ivey has already worked with GAIL for the latter executive development programme. “Executive education has been our forte. We are thus looking at more partnerships with Indian corporates in this area,” said Stephenson.

The Dean said that the quality brought to executive education was of prime importance. Using its own faculty, unique case method, implementable solutions and getting industry practitioners to the executive education programme has been the focus of Ivey, according to her. "Companies are now realising that they cannot compromise with executive education. Talent is what makes a company and we hope to play a significant role in nurturing this talent among Indian organisations," she concluded.

Source: Business Standard, February 23, 2012

IIMs vs IIMs for placement pie

The older Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) have competition from the younger ones. After learning the tricks of the trade from their mentors, the younger IIMs are now approaching the regular set of companies that visit older IIMs for placements. “B-schools are many, but big recruiters are the same. Older IIMs are the big daddies. So, it becomes imperative for us to devise strategies to beat competition from them. We have managed to get around three companies to recruit only from our campus this year,” said a placement committee member of an younger IIMs.

“Our batch size is much smaller compared to the older IIMs. Hence, we are fine if a company does not want to recruit in bulk. We are telling companies that if they are to recruit 15 students from a given campus, they can recruit at least five from ours and the rest from an older IIM,” the placement committee member added. With six new IIMs — Ranchi (Jharkhand), Rohtak (Haryana), Raipur (Chhattisgarh), Thiruchirapalli (Tamil Nadu), Kashipur (Uttarakhand) and Udaipur (Rajasthan) — the total number of IIMs have gone up to 13. While placements are on at the older IIMs, three IIMs — Ranchi, Rohtak and Raipur, among the new ones, are undergoing final placements at present. Younger IIMs say they do not have any database of companies, and contrary to claims that they would need support from the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to place students, they will not seek any one’s help.

Placement details at IIMs, say placements chairpersons at these institutes, are always kept under wraps, except for the three big IIMs — Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Calcutta — which largely share placement details with each others. “In this case, the key is to begin placements early to have the first mover advantage. We try to keep our placement dates around the same time as the older IIMs. This enables us to attract the same set of companies as that of our mentors,” a placement committee chairperson said.

The newer IIMs are also dishing out a deal to the companies. If a company, on a said IIM campus has been given a day three slot, the younger IIMs are giving them zero day slots. Prafulla Agnihotri, Director, IIM-Thiruchirapalli, who was also the placement chairperson at IIM-Calcutta earlier, says, “I did have the comfort factor with HR directors of many companies since I headed placements at IIM-Calcutta. But if these companies are recruiting from our Trichy campus, that is because they believe in our students.” Agnihotri says he invited a number of recruiters on campus to meet and interact with students. The companies have used the same platform to evaluate students. “Though many companies have come to our campus given my relationship with them, they have recruited because we are brand IIM,” adds Agnihotri.

The older IIMs say this is obvious, but is not worrying them. “This is natural. Jobs will be distributed. As the economy grows, there will be enough jobs to absorb students from newer campuses. Besides, the older IIMs are a brand and companies will come to them for recruitment.” To have more number of companies on campus, these younger B-schools are organising live projects, colloquiums and HR conclaves to build relationships with companies. Top consulting firms however, are giving the younger IIMs a tough time. “Their policy is not to recruit from a campus which is less than five to six year old, and so they are not entertaining us,” said a placement coordinator from one of the new IIMs. It will be a while before the younger ones can flaunt the crore plus salary figures.

Source: Business Standard, February 23, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

B-school students to fend for themselves

As companies stay away from campuses and pay packages plunge by over 30 per cent, the lesser known business schools in the country are asking students to look out for jobs on their own. B-schools began their placements last October-November, but five months down the line, they have been able to place only 30 to 50 per cent of their batch sizes.

"Students are trying on their own. In several cases, they are not satisfied with the pay packages that companies are offering on campus. If students support us, they will be placed by April,” said Rishi Raj Singh, senior manager, corporate relations, at Asia Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi.

The institute has a batch size of 220 students against a class capacity of 300. It has so far placed around 57 per cent of the students. “Last year, several banks came to us for placements, but this year only three have come so far. ICICI bank was the largest recruiter with 42 students absorbed, but this year, it has not come on campus," added Singh. The institute says packages have gone down from Rs. 500,000 per annum to Rs. 350,000 per annum. This when the institute’s fee is Rs. 750,000 for the two-year post-graduate programme in management.

At the Noida-based Jaipuria Institute of Management, 40 per cent of the batch has been placed till February 20, though it's an improvement over 24 per cent on the same date last year (full year placement was 90 per cent). The institute has a batch size of 106 students against a class capacity of 180 students. However, salary offers have gone up by 20 per cent this year compared to last year, according to an official of the institute..

Companies are largely offering sales profile to students from these B-schools. Companies in retail and e-commerce have also recruited students for retail and sales job. "Even if students find jobs on their own, we do not debar them from sitting for campus placements. For a B-school like ours, companies will pay a Rs. 240,000 per annum package. Students in any case, will switch jobs after six months, and hence companies do not want to offer a higher package,” said Atul Sharma, placement coordinator at Galgotias Business School, Greater Noida.

Pune-based Kirloskar Institute of Advanced Management Studies (KIAMS) has been finding it tough to attract some major sectors like IT, pharma and FMCG. According to an institute official, KIAMS has with much difficulty placed 50 per cent of its students so far, out of a batch of 122. “We are having a tough time placing our students in some of the sectors. Our efforts may continue till May end. So far, only 20-odd firms have come to our campus. Even the number of recruitments per firm has gone down this year,” the official stated on condition of anonymity.

Another such institute is Ahmedabad-based St Kabir Institute of Professional Studies (SKIPS), which all the major banks have given a miss this year. “Students are trying on their own; still the institute is hand-holding them. The overall placement scenario has mellowed down a bit for us. We are still hopeful as three more months are there for the placement season to get over,” said Ravi Gaur, dean, academics, at SKIPS.

“Most of these B-schools roll over their placement process till April. And after April, students graduate. So, there are many who will be asked to fend for themselves. Not to mention, these institutes will advertise a 100 per cent placement on hoardings across cities,” said the director of a top B-school in Greater Noida.

While the situation is far better at the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), they did acknowledge that recruitment per firm has gone down. Placement chairpersons at IIMs, on the condition of anonymity, said they had expected the situation to be bad. They did not wish to get quoted as placements are still on. The IIMs began their placements last week.

Source: Business Standard, February 22, 2012

NSDC to give thrust to Swiss vocational training method

National Skill Development Council, a not-for-profit company set up by the Ministry of Finance, is looking to give a thrust to the adoption of the Swiss model of vocational education and training in India. The education method in Switzerland encourages school students to pursue apprenticeship in any chosen vocational field so that they are industry-ready when they graduate.

At the backbone of this vocational training is the cooperation between trade associations, educational institutions, government bodies and companies. Several companies are willing to offer practical training to students. After schooling, students in Switzerland can choose from 240 vocations and, at a later stage, from 400 professional education training options. Vocational education diploma holders are productive from day one as they are fully trained in the production environment; they can even pursue higher education at a later stage.

The Swiss government is responsible for monitoring the development and quality assurance of the entire system. This system has worked because Switzerland has a low youth unemployment rate at 7.2 per cent – compared to 9.7 per cent in Germany, 19.1 per cent in UK and 18.4 per cent in the US, said Dr Fraziska Schwarz, Director – International Relations, Swiss Federal Office for Professional Education and Training, at a Skills Development Summit organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

The Swiss Vocational Education and Training Initiative was piloted in India last year in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa in partnership with SkillSonics, a Bangalore-based company that specialises in imparting training in the engineering sector. The joint initiative has trained 150 apprentices in mechanical, production and technician skills. The State industrial training institutes and companies such as ABB and ACC lent their support in this venture. Plans are on to launch similar courses in food processing, ICT, hospitality and pharmaceuticals verticals.

NSDC is in talks with SkillSonics to accelerate the adoption of the Swiss model across the country, said Mr Dileep Chenoy, CEO and Managing Director, NSDC. However, while this model easily works in a small country like Switzerland, in India one needs to keep in mind issues of massive numbers and scalability, said Mr S. Mahalingam, CII Council on Skill Development and CFO, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

Source: The Hindu Business Line, February 22, 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Northeast India opens doors to private universities with a Rs. 3 billion investment

Policymakers in northeast India are finally creating a framework and inviting private investors in higher education, filling a glaring shortage that has in the past seen students in the region migrating to the rest of the country. The sector has till date received investments to the tune of Rs. 300 crore (Rs. 3 billion), and projects worth Rs. 200 crore (Rs. 2 billion) are in the pipeline. At least three to four private universities are looking to soon start operations.

"There is a huge demand for higher education institutions. Our foray in this sector has been met with a very positive response from students," says Stephen Mavely, Vice Chancellor of Don Bosco University in Guwahati. Some of the initiatives are in the public private partnership mode. Meghalaya, for instance, has inked a memorandum of understanding with International Finance Corporation for starting the Shillong Medical College.

The Assam government, in partnership with the Tata Group and Oil India Limited (OIL), is starting the Indian Institute of Information Technology and Advanced Sciences (IIITAS), which, says Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, will cover the advanced and applied sciences. "Emphasis would be on industry-interface research and development relevant to Assam, besides skill development, helping the youth of the state to be employable here and elsewhere."

While the Centre will hold a 57.5% stake in the project, the state government will hold 35%, and the Tata Group and OIL will hold the remaining stake, says education minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma. "Our initial estimate for this project was around Rs. 127 crore (Rs. 1.27 billion), but this will now go up," he says.

Nearly 375,311 persons from the the region migrated to other states in 2007-2008, according to an National Skill Development Council (NSCD) study on development and employment generation potential of the northeastern states. The majority of migrants were from Assam, followed by Sikkim and Tripura. In an attempt to keep the flock home, Assam and Meghalaya have seen at least five private universities starting courses. The privately-run Kaziranga University will commence MBA and engineering courses in Assam by July this year.

Anil Saraf, vice president of the Northeastern Knowledge Foundation, which is starting the university, says the group is initially investing around Rs. 100 crore (Rs. 1 billion) into the project, but will scale up the investment to nearly Rs. 300 crore in the next few years. The campus, on 50 acres, hopes to attract students from Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. "We will also collaborate with foreign universities and initiate joint programmes and research," says Saraf.

There is a lot of demand for engineers in northeast India as huge projects in the infrastructure sector are being implemented here, adds SK Mahanta, CEO of MMS Advisory, a higher education consultancy. "Students in engineering colleges of the region are getting good campus placements," he adds. Several new universities, piloted by local promoters, are in the pipeline, he says.

Source: The Economic Times, February 21, 2012

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