Sunday, April 28, 2013

Apex court allows private colleges to offer MBA, MCA sans AICTE nod

In a major decision, the Supreme Court has ruled that private colleges need not seek approval from the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to conduct courses in computer application and management at the postgraduate level. However, AICTE Chairman S.S. Mantha said the Council would file a review petition against this order early next week.

“Our Act (AICTE Act) says which disciplines are covered. Suddenly, one can’t say that it isn’t correct,” Mantha said. The matter came up before the apex court in 2004 after the Madras High Court had ruled in favour of AICTE.

The Association of Management of Private Colleges and a few other private colleges in Tamil Nadu had filed the case on the grounds that MBA is not a technical course and should not be governed by the AICTE. They further argued that both MBA and MCA were brought under the purview of the AICTE after some amendments in 2000 without being placed before the Parliament as is the normal process.

Unregulated System
Mantha said the changes may not have gone through Parliament but were done in “good faith.”

“One should see the larger problem. Unregulated systems and unfair trade practices will start proliferating if this happens (if these courses do not require AICTE’s approval),” Mantha said, adding that thousands of students are likely to suffer the consequences.

Mantha said there are about 4,000 management institutions and 1,600 institutions running MCA programmes in the country. However, some private colleges running MBA courses feel that an independent body, on the lines of the Medical Council of India (MCI), should control management education in the country, instead of being governed by a body, which they say, is essentially meant for technical education.

The head of a leading private management institution, who requested anonymity, said that the AICTE had earlier impinged on the autonomy of private management colleges and that it was difficult for them to function efficiently under its stringent rules.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the AICTE can play an advisory role and prescribe standards of education by sending notes to the University Grants Commission for colleges affiliated to Universities. But colleges will not need AICTE approval to run these courses.

Source: The Hindu Business Line, April 28, 2013

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Australia re-emerges as preferred country for Indian students

Indians ranked Australia as the second most preferred country to study abroad next to the US, despite a series of "racially motivated" attacks against them in 2009 and 2010, according to a new opinion poll released today.

The poll, conducted by the Lowy Institute and Australia India Institute here, found that 75 per cent respondents who participated believed Australia was a good place to be educated, ranking second only to the United States.

"It reveals that ordinary Indians quite like Australia despite all the trouble that's happened," said the study's co-author and Director of the Lowy Institute, Prof. Rory Medcalf. "All the trouble" refers to series of much-publicised attacks on Indian students, studying in Australia, in 2009 and 2010. And these events have still left their mark on Indians' opinions of Australia.

The poll found 62 per cent of Indians still considered Australia a dangerous place for students, and 61 per cent also felt the attacks were racially motivated. A further 60 per cent of the 1233 adult respondents said they would like India's government and society to be more like Australia's.

Overall, Indians ranked Australia among the top four countries they felt closest to, with the United States, Japan and Singapore taking out the top three. Education, democracy and cricket are important foundations for Indian-Australian relations, the poll showed.

"There's still some fragility in the relationship and if there was another crisis it wouldn't take much to raise these ghosts about racism and danger," Medcalf said adding the main difference between Australia-India relations now, compared to five years ago, is that "champions of the relationship" have emerged.

The poll also found Indians wouldn't be nearly as interested in Australia if it weren't for the countries' mutual love of cricket. "It shows the Australian cricket team is still good for one thing, and that is projecting a positive image of Australia in India," he said.

The report found Australia was well-liked in India with Indians holding relatively warm feelings towards Australia (56 degrees on a scale of 0 to 100), which ranks fourth after the US (62), Singapore (58) and Japan (57) out of 22 countries in the survey.

Welcoming the findings, AII Director Amitabh Mattoo said, "The Australia-India relationship is an idea whose time has come. This poll confirms that Indian perceptions of Australia are improving, but more work is needed to build and secure this vital relationship."

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), April 17, 2013

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Indian students opt for overseas education as admissions in local universities get tough

Rishabh Jain, 17, has written his CBSE XII boards this year. A student of science stream at DPS, R K Puram in Delhi, Jain has already made it to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Purdue University, and Rutgers University, in the US. Jain has accepted the electrical engineering course at the University of Illinois. Not that the US universities he has made it to were the first options for him. Jain's preference order read: IIT, Delhi Technical University and BITS Pilani.

Jain says: "Competition is tough in India. You don't know whether you will get in at an institute of your choice." However, for Jain and other science students in his batch, there is even more uncertainty about the future due to the new avatar of engineering entrance exams. Jain is writing the computer-based IIT Mains, but says "you can never be sure of making it through."

Radhika Agarwal, Jain's batchmate at DPS R K Puram and a student of humanities stream, has already made it to UC Berkeley and Carnegie Mellon. For Agarwal too, the first choices were top colleges at the University of Delhi. But with the university deciding to increase the number of years for the undergraduate programme to four years from this batch, Agarwal decided to give the US her best shot. "I'm exercising the US option because of the uncertainty. No one knows anything about the new four-year undergraduate system at the University of Delhi. Plus, there are very few seats in the general category and very high cut-offs to deal with."

For Reuben Datta, a student of Delhi's Modern School, Barakhamba Road, Indian colleges were not an option when he started his research in class XI. "DU has changed the system and the first year of a new system is the year of chaos. Even if I get 97% in the boards, I won't get through to an SRCC. I want to do economics with a minor in music. Do I have that option in India?" Datta asks. He has made it to four colleges in the US.

Here's the dichotomy. The bright, young future talent like Jain, Agarwal and Datta is taking flight from India though they do not want to. The growing category of students can afford to go abroad for an undergraduate degree, but would be the happiest studying at the creme de la creme institutes here. This year, amidst uncertainty around admissions to the University of Delhi and engineering colleges, more students seem to be heading abroad.

Of every 10 students who come to Mrinalini Batra, Founder & CEO, International Educational Exchange, a Delhi-based firm that counsels students on going abroad, eight are undergrads and only two are graduates. Batra has been sending students abroad for the last 18 years and has seen the trend change 180 degrees. She says: "I see a lot of parents apply to the US as a back-up to top notch institutes in India. They are looking for better quality, better experience." SAT, the key examinations for admission to undergraduate courses in the US, has seen the number of test-takers reach highest-ever levels.

While The College Board that conducts SAT does not have a break-up of data from different parts of the world, it confirms: "More Indian students than ever are taking the SAT."  The SAT is administered at nearly 7,000 test centres in more than 180 countries. Worldwide, nearly 3 million students take the SAT during an academic year. In India, the SAT is administered six times a year. There are 35 SAT test centres throughout India.

"Relative to the 2010-2011 school year, this has grown 25%," says Leslie Sepuka, Director, Regional Communications, The College Board. Though she adds that test centre growth and test taker growth are not necessarily proportionate because the number of seats across test centres varies. Some like Urvashi Malik, Director and Senior Career Counsellor, CollegeCore Education, a firm that helps send students abroad, say that the increase in applications from India this year has been upwards of 30% for a university like Yale.

"This has been the upward trend and has gained momentum." While the uncertainty around DU admissions and engineering exams may have contributed to the numbers, the trend is not limited to just Delhi or Mumbai. Malik has just helped send a girl from Dehradun to the University of Chicago on full scholarship. Batra gets applicants from Agra, Indore, Jaipur and Bhopal and these students are equally well-informed about their choices, she says.

Top universities corroborate the increase in the numbers of applications from undergrads from India in the recent years. At Yale, the number of undergrads from India is increasing faster than the number of graduate students. "We have seen an increase in the number of undergraduates from India. Our enrollment of undergraduate students from India has more than doubled from a decade ago. Our enrollment of all students from India has grown nearly 50% from a decade ago," says Shana N Schneider, Director of Communications, Yale Office of International Affairs.

According to Yale University, the numbers of undergrads from India for the last three years are: 40 in 2012; 39 in 2011 and 37 in 2010. "We can not, however, disclose application numbers. We can confirm that the number of applications to Yale has gone up each of the last three years," Schneider adds.

At Princeton University, for instance, the number of undergraduate students has more than doubled in the last five years. This is even when the numbers of graduate students decreased from 84 in 2008-09 to 71 in 2012-13. A total of 59 undergrad students enrolled at the university in 2012-13 academic year as against 50 the previous year and 25 in 2008-09. Its spokesperson Martin Mbugua attributes this to the no-loan financial aid programme, which is available to international and domestic students.

Princeton became the first University in the US to remove loans from financial aid packages and instead replace them with need-based grants that do not have to be repaid. All of Princeton scholarships are need-based (Princeton does not award merit-based scholarships to any students).

"This system makes it possible for our undergraduates to graduate without debt. The University's admission process is need-blind for both domestic and international students, which means that students are not at any disadvantage if they need financial aid," says Mbugua. That makes it easier for parents like Sahima Datta, an alumna of University of Delhi and mother of Reuben, to back her son's decision to go abroad. "US offers a much larger canvas and with scholarships, it's better to opt to go out," she says.

Source: The Economic Times, April 16, 2013

Oxford University woos Indian students, opens doors for more undergraduates

Oxford University is now open to many more Indian students than ever before. After recently opening its undergraduate class to Indian students, Oxford University's Exeter College is on an India tour, visiting some of the high schools and colleges in Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore, to lure Indian students. Dr Chris Ballinger, academic dean at the college, which is the fourth oldest college of the university, is holding talks here aimed at school and junior college (high school) students and their parents about how to apply to be an undergraduate student at Oxford University.

Dr Ballinger is also meeting principals of some of the top schools in Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore to attract more Indian students, who want to be undergraduates at Oxford University, and who are studying for Class XII qualification, with either the CBSE or ICSE.

"I aim to increase understanding among Indian schoolchildren, and their teachers and advisers and parents, of the benefits of studying at Oxford as an undergraduate, our criteria for admission to undergraduate degree courses, and the process by which students can apply to be undergraduates at Oxford University," he said.

Oxford altered its undergraduate admissions criteria in the 2012-13 application cycle to accept undergraduate school leavers from India who have obtained the Class XII qualification, with either the CBSE or ICSE boards. "We did this because we want to ensure that we can accept applications from the widest possible range of well-qualified applicants," said Dr Ballinger.

In a bid to woo Indian students to study in the UK, the UK Prime Minister David Cameron during his recent visit to Mumbai announced that there would be no cap on the number of Indian students to the UK or the duration of their residence there. At Oxford, there are currently 39 undergraduate students who are domiciled in India (66 of whom are Indian nationals). There are 12,310 undergraduate students at Oxford as a whole, including visiting undergraduate students.

Source: The Economic Times, April 16, 2013

Monday, April 15, 2013

Pakistan beats India in research, not in innovation

It would be a cliché to compare India and Pakistan in the world of science and innovation. Everybody would think that India with its high economic growth rate and world class information technology industry is miles ahead. That may not be completely true.

A recent United Nations study finds that Pakistan has more researchers for a million people than India. Pakistan has 162 researchers for a million people as compared to 135 in India. But, when it comes to taking research to a logical and innovative end through patent registration, Pakistan is not even close to the south-Asian economic power.

India has five patents for a million people, five times more than the Pakistanis. The reason, as indicated by the data in the UN report, could be Pakistan’s poor technological infrastructure as compared to India despite youth there showing more interest than Indians in science and technology.

That is the only saving grace for Indians in the world of science and technology. Otherwise, the so-called emerging economic power is not even close to several nations with slower economic growth rate.

Sri Lanka registers three times more patents for a people as compared to its northern neighbour India. Even Thailand has more patents and researchers per million people than India.

Comparison of India with China or the United States would be shameful. China registers over a 100 patents for a million people as compared to five for India.

The United States with 707 patents for a million people in among top scientific countries in the world after two Asian research giants Japan and South Korea with over 1,000 patents for a million people.

A senior government official was hopeful of dramatic change in India’s dismal record saying recent efforts to incentivise research would show results in the coming few years.

Source: Hindustan Times, April 15, 2013

MBA from global B-schools pays

Source: The Economic Times (ET Wealth), April 15, 2013

India lags behind China in research publications

A recently released ranking index on scientific progress among 16 countries in the AsiaPacific region places India much below China in terms of papers published and research output.

Sandwiched between Taiwan and New Zealand, India comes in at number seven, much below China at second rank in terms of number of research articles according to the Nature Asia Pacific publishing index 2012.

The NPI ranks institutions and countries according to the number of research articles they publish in the Nature family of journals in a one-year period.

While China has published 303 articles just below top ranking Japan’s 398, India could publish just 25 articles in Nature journals during this period. The number of publications for India has gone down from 30 in 2011.

“The country’s science effort has blown hot and cold over the past five years, in some way reflecting the relationship at home between its ambitious scientific plans and its struggle with poverty,” says the report.

The index presents the number of published articles with author affiliations to a given country or institution, and a corrected count that is adjusted according to the contribution of each author to each article based on the percentage of authors from that institution or country in the paper’s affiliations.

Source: Hindustan Times, April 15, 2013

Friday, April 12, 2013

Bigger Business Via Better Coaching

With over two lakh aspirants appearing for the Common Admissions Test (CAT) last year, it is obvious that most Indian students view a management degree as a gateway to untold riches. It is this mindset that VistaMind Education, a Bangalore-based coaching institute, aims to build on. “Where we really try to differentiate ourselves from the rest, is not just through the use of technology but through the old-fashioned methods of giving personal attention to our students and providing quality work materials,” said ARKS Srinivas who co-founded VistaMind a year ago.

Over the last decade-and-a-half, coaching establishments have become an extremely lucrative business proposition as they attempt to cash in on a 600 million-strong population aged under 35, looking to empower itself through the avenue of higher education. The market estimated at about $10 billion is however extremely fragmented.

“It’s all about reputation, word-of-mouth and results. If you can’t coach students to be amongst the top-ranked, they won’t sign up with you,” said Amitabh Jhingan, national sector leader for education at Ernst & Young.
“The problem with coaching establishments in India is that they offer general solutions to specific problems. The concept of personal mentoring just isn’t there,” Srinivas pointed out.

According to him, VistaMind offers a student-teacher ratio of 1:50, one of the lowest in the industry. Srinivas, 39, along with four other co-founders of VistaMind are graduates of the IIMs and XLRI. They were all previously a part of T.I.M.E, a leading coaching institute in the country, before deciding to set up their own shop. “There were differences in opinion with them (T.I.M.E), and we realised that our vision and growth plans were very different,” the IIM Calcutta graduate said. And it’s a move that seems to have paid off. VistaMind, which currently operates six fully-owned centres spread across Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, Lucknow, Kanpur and Mysore, plans to establish its presence in Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad by the end of the current fiscal. It also has a franchisee-owned centre in Nagpur.

“We hope to be in at least 15 centres by the end of the year, with a focus on the smaller cities, including Jammu and Patna, either through franchisee model, company-owned centres or through a partnership model,” Srinivas said. Earlier in the year, it also visited IIM-Kozhikode to participate in the premier MBA institute’s placement programme. The opportunities are manifold.

While official data on the size of the entrance examination coaching market is scarce, the CAT training sector by itself is estimated at about Rs. 1,000 crore (Rs. 10 billion) according to industry estimates. “The market is highly fragmented, with the organised players commanding a very small portion of it. For example, the IIT-Joint Entrance Examination market is between Rs. 3,000 (Rs. 3 billion) to 4,000 crore (Rs. 4 billion),” Srinivas said.

Given the state of the fractured market, VistaMind has not stopped at just offering coaching for MBA entrance exams. It also offers a programme called Campus Alliance, through which it offers training for recruitment examinations that job seekers have to undergo in order to get placed with a number of India’s largest information technology companies, including, Infosys, Wipro and Tata Consultancy Services. Through its Campus Alliance programme, VistaMind has trained about 15,000 job-seekers. It also offers coaching for pre-university exams, the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) for those looking beyond the shores of India.

The company posted revenue of about Rs. 10 crore (Rs. 100 million) for the year ended March 2013, and expects to double that by the end of fiscal 2014. It expects to be profitable in financial year 2014-15. “We are expecting profits to be at about 30% of EBITDA by that time,” Srinivas said. VistaMind has raised Rs. 25 crore (Rs. 250 million) of angel funding, but an infusion of institutional capital will largely depend on the company’s turnover next financial year. “We don’t require that much money right now, since we are not a capital intensive business. If we meet our revenue target next year, we will consider it very strongly,” Srinivas said.

Source: The Economic Times, April 12, 2013

Italian B-School Caps Intake of Indians at 12%

SDA Bocconi School of Management at Milan, Italy – among the top global MBA programmes under the FT ranking – has for the first time this year put a 12% cap on the intake of Indian students in its one-year international MBA programme. The institute says the move is aimed at maintaining parity in the MBA batch. Indian students form the single largest majority after Italians at the institute. The MBA Class of 2013 at SDA Bocconi School of Management has 12% Indians, compared with 27% Italians. The rest of Asia, including Japan, China and Pakistan, represents 7%.

“There are too many Indian students in the MBA class, prompting us to limit intake. The number of Indian applications has been increasing over time. But the percentage of Indian applicants admitted has been capped to the level of the last intake at 12%,” said Alessandro Giuliani, Managing Director of MISB Bocconi. The Mumbai-based MISB Bocconi, is the Indian initiative of SDA Bocconi School of Management. This year, the institute saw the largest increase in applications from Indian candidates – another reason for the cap on intake of Indians. The basic selection criterion for admission into the MBA course at SDA Bocconi is GMAT.

“Managing cultural differences during the MBA experience is part of their (SBA Bocconi) pedagogy and hence they are emphasising on mixing students from different geographies and cultures in small groups in order to stimulate cross-cultural diversity,” said Giuliani. The Financial Times Global MBA Ranking 2013 placed SDA Bocconi School of Management at 39th place. Two management institutes from India featured in the top 50 list, including IIM- Ahmedabad at 26 and Indian School of Business at 34. The list was topped by Harvard Business School.

SBA Bocconi’s international MBA class, which has a total strength of 90, has students from 32 countries, including India, China, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, UK, and US, among others. “Our admission policy aims at obtaining a wide geographical inclass representation to safeguard the internationalisation level of a programme ranked in the FT ranking,” added Paolo Morosetti, SDA Professor of Strategic and Entrepreneurial Management Department and Director of the Executive MBA Programme at SDA Bocconi.

The Indians and Chinese form the largest chunk of the student community in most global B-schools, after local students. And though top schools like the Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business, or The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania try to maintain cultural and ethnic diversity in their class, there is no formal cap on intake.

According to an IIM-Bangalore study by Professor Rupa Chanda and Shahana Mukherjee (May 2012), UK, Germany and France receive the most number of Indian students for higher education. However, Indian students are exploring other countries in the EU such as Sweden, Italy, Ireland and Denmark, where “education is considerably cheaper and part-time jobs are easier to secure”.

Source: The Economic Times, April 12, 2013

Only 3 IITs among top 100 universities in Asia

Only three institutes in the country, all of them Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), feature among the top 100 universities in Asia, according to the first Asia University Rankings released by "Times Higher Education" magazine.

While IIT-Kharagpur is ranked 30th, IIT-Bombay is 33rd and IIT-Roorkee 56th, the University of Tokyo secured the pole position with an overall score of 78.3, followed by the National University of Singapore with 77.5, University of Hong Kong (75.6) and Peking University (70.7). The universities are ranked based on 13 performance indicators in teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.

"We are very happy with the results, because we have been striving very hard to compete with global universities," said IIT-Kharagpur officiating Director S K Som. "IIT-Kharagpur is a founder IIT, and we have started programmes other IITs haven't." IIT-Kharagpur had earlier launched Vision 2020 with the aim of joining the list of the world's top 20 universities in science and technology. "We are focusing on research excellence, faculty excellence and industry linkages," Som said.

Individually, the three IITs have done relatively well on industry income or innovation, and have secured moderate scores in the teaching and research parameters. All three have secured low scores in terms of international outlook, with none securing more than 20 points.

A comparison between the Asia and the world rankings shows that the IITs are a far cry from many of those above them on the list. Many of the top 20 institutions also feature in the top 100 list, whereas IIT-Kharagpur, the highest-ranked Indian university, is placed between 226 and 250 on the world ranking list. No Indian institution has figured among the top 200 universities in the world in recent surveys. IIT-Bombay is placed between 251 and 275 positions, while IIT-Roorkee falls between 351 and 400 ranks on the world universities list.

In sheer numbers, too, Japan, with 22 universities in the top 100 Asian institutions, Taiwan with 17, China with 15 and Korea with 14 have done much better.

Sudhir Chella Rajan, head, department of humanities and social sciences, IIT-Madras, said the rankings had to be taken with a pinch of salt as much of the review was based on perception, not actual output. "It is said that those with publicity departments do better," he said.

Analysing the performance of India's higher education sector for the London-based "Times Higher Education", Pawan Agarwal, adviser for higher education to the Planning Commission, said "rapid growth in the face of staff shortages and declining per-student spending has affected standards, which is eroding public confidence in the value of Indian higher education". He said to build a world-class academy, India must develop a group of multi-disciplinary research universities capable of world-class research in a wide range of disciplinary and inter-disciplinary areas.

To see the full list of top 100 Asian universities, please click

Source: The Times of India, April 12, 2013

Thursday, April 11, 2013

IIMs seek liberty to elect directors

The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) have a wish: The freedom to select directors on their own, and at an accelerated pace. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD)'s intervention in its matters, including selection of directors, is taking a toll on the schools' reputation, they claim. "We are losing our charm internationally," laments an IIM director. "We need basic freedom to at least appoint our own directors, sans anyone's permission. We do not see international professors interested in heading IIMs."

Consider this: Samir Barua, Director at IIM-Ahmedabad, was to remit office in November 2012 but was given an extension of a few months. Ditto with Shekhar Chaudhuri, Director, IIM-Calcutta, and Pankaj Chandra, Director, IIM-Bangalore, who is still on extension. In contrast, look at similar appointments internationally: Cornell University's management announced Soumitra Dutta as the new dean in January 2012, when he was to take over in July 2012. Nitin Nohria was announced Harvard Business School's dean in May 2010, when he was to take over in July 2010.

In fact, the board of governors at IIM-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) had sent names of three contenders - Ashish Nanda of Harvard University and IIM-A faculty members G Raghuram and Rakesh Basant - for the post of Director to MHRD on May 9, 2012. But the ministry is yet to respond. The board, in the absence of a clearance from MHRD, this month asked Dean (Faculty) Ajay Pandey to take over as the Acting Director. While IIM-Calcutta appointed a Director this week, IIM-Bangalore is yet to appoint one.

"I do not understand why an IIM needs the MHRD or the permission of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) to appoint a director. Why can't decisions regarding educational institutions be left to them? We are institutions of the 21st century. Why do we have a board of governors if we can't be allowed to select our own directors?" asks an IIM director.

Sources at the premier management institutes say the process of selecting a director should be accelerated, as it would be a good model to have a director-designate six months to one year in advance. This would allow the outgoing and incoming directors to work together, allowing for better hand-holding before one takes over.

As an IIM director completes his term, a search committee is constituted to shortlist eligible candidates and recommend them to MHRD. The ministry approves the list, sends it to the Department of Personnel, which forwards it to the PMO for the Cabinet Committee's approval.

Globally, however, much before a director or dean's term comes to an end, headhunters identify some key names of eligible candidates and send these to the dean of a search committee, which comprises faculty members from the institute. Committees at the university and school levels come together to interview and shortlist candidates. The appointments are usually done months in advance.

A M Naik, chairperson of the board of governors of IIM-A, says though the selection of directors six months in advance would be a good move, the government's role in the process would remain, as it was an important stakeholder. Ashok Thakur, Joint Secretary at MHRD, could not be contacted for comments despite repeated attempts for two weeks.

Source: Business Standard, April 11, 2013

IIT-Gandhinagar bags $500k grant from US firm for fire safety research

The Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar, (IIT-Gn) has got a grant of $500,000 from US-based Underwriters Laboratories to develop a fire engineering laboratory and other fire safety research and education initiatives. Headquartered in the US and a world leader in advancing safety, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is a premier global independent safety science company. It has offered the grant to the safety centre at IIT-Gn.

Under the five-year grant, IIT-Gn will collaborate with UL on major safety initiatives, such as conferences, training programmes for professionals, curriculum development and research projects. The initiative will also support undergraduate and post-graduate research projects for IIT-Gn students.

"IIT-Gn is committed to pursuing education and research in safety through multidisciplinary approach. As our economy grows and as our industries and infrastructure get more sophisticated, safety will become more and more critical. We greatly value our partnership with UL in achieving our objectives," said Sudhir K Jain, Director of IIT-Gn.

During the past four years, UL has partnered with IIT-Gn on several research projects: Developing a kitchen fire safety system to predict fire events; development of a national fire database; innovative use of photovoltaic systems and its safety issues; and converting a conventional fuel vehicle into an eco-friendly electric vehicle. About a dozen IIT-Gn students have also undertaken research work at UL labs just outside of Chicago and UL professionals have taught workshops and classes at IIT-Gn.

In addition, UL collaborated with IIT-Gn on an International Conference on Safety and an International Workshop on Process Safety Management in October 2012. UL also partnered with IIT-Gn on a two-day workshop on Fire Safety on March 2-3, 2013.

"UL is committed to advancing the science of safety and our collaboration with IIT-Gn is a reflection of that. Through these young engineers and scientists we are able to continue to extend our safety mission in ways that are relevant to the needs of India," said Gus Schaefer, senior vice-president and public safety officer at Underwriters Laboratories Inc.

Source: Business Standard, April 11, 2013

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

IIM-Bangalore hikes fees for two-year course by 6% to Rs. 1.7 million

Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM-B) has increased its fees for batch of 2015 to Rs. 17 lakh (Rs. 1.7 million) from Rs. 1.5 million, a 6% increase per year. "It is linked to current inflation and consumer indices," said a statement from the premier management institute.

A management course in IIM-B is more expensive than one in IIM-Ahmedabad, which will charge its 2015 batch Rs. 1.66 million, say reports . The new fee for the two-year course will cover tuition, hostel accommodation, health insurance, course and reading material including cases and books, computing facilities, library and other academic and co-curricular expenditure, said the IIM-B statement.

Amongst the older IIMs, IIM Lucknow (IIM-L) said they are yet to take a call on the fee structure and will make an announcement next week. The institute has not increased its fees for the past two years and fees for 2012-2014 were at Rs. 1.25 million.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), April 9, 2013

Indo-Canadian student gives boost to cancer treatment

A Canadian high school student has improved an ineffective experimental cancer therapy with a simple tweak -- pairing it with antibiotics -- earning accolades from a panel of eminent scientists on Tuesday. Cancer "photothermal therapy" -- or PTT -- involves injecting a patient with gold nanoparticles. These then accumulate in tumors and, when heated using light, attack the cancer cells.

The idea has shown promise but is not very effective because the cancer cells fight back, producing heat-shock proteins to protect themselves. However, India-born High school student Arjun Nair, 16, showed how an antibiotic (17-AAG) may overcome the defenses cancer cell deploy and make the treatment more effective.

The discovery earned Nair the top prize in the 20th Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada, after he spent two years working on his idea at the University of Calgary's Nanoscience Labs in Alberta.

"Proof-of-concepts were developed and tested in order to demonstrate the viability of PTT," says Nair. "Moreover, after analyzing the literature a mathematical model was developed to evaluate a theoretical synergetic treatment."

A total of 208 high school students collaborating on 123 projects, all mentored in professional labs over several months, took part in the annual competition. In addition to a Can$5,000 (US$4,919) award for his discovery, Nair also won a Can$1,000 (US$984) prize for the project with the greatest commercial potential.

Prizes were also awarded for research into how genetic mutations naturally help some HIV patients escape symptoms, how to tailor stem cell treatments for Parkinson's disease, a potential new therapy to reduce the severity of diabetes, and a possible novel tactic to fight the world's deadliest brain cancer.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), April 9, 2013

Ban on UK varsity enrolling foreign students lifted

In a relief to foreign students including many from India, the British government today lifted last year's ban on a London university enrolling overseas pupils. The UK Home Office in a statement said the London Metropolitan University has made improvements since criticism over its 'systemic failure' to monitor overseas students.

Reacting to the decision, Indian-origin Labour MP and Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee Keith Vaz said, "Today's decision shows that the hasty verdict by the UK Border Agency to revoke the licence at the start of the new academic year in September, which left thousands of genuine students including around 350 Indian students, in limbo and at risk of deportation, was the wrong choice."

"It was poorly handled and has irreparably damaged the UK's reputation abroad as the destination of choice for overseas students," he said. "The Home Office must also be fully transparent about the number of London Met students deported or those who have left voluntarily. No doubt they will be issuing an apology to the university," Vaz said.

London Metropolitan University will be able to admit students from outside the EU again, but numbers will be restricted. Last August, the university became the first in the UK to be stripped of its right to sponsor students from outside the European economic area.

Universities across the country were anxious that the decision would damage the UK's reputation for higher education and deter applications from overseas students. Many UK universities rely on income from international students' fees.

An investigation by the UK Border Agency found that in more than a quarter of the cases it sampled at the university, students did not have permission to stay in the country and a significant proportion did not have sufficient English. It described the university as having a "serious systemic failure" in its monitoring of overseas students. The decision left more than 2,000 international students in limbo.

Immigration minister Mark Harper said, a series of inspections over the last six months had shown the university had made the necessary improvements to its systems and administration. The university will be on probation for a year "to build a track record of compliance", but can admit international students again, he said. "We have worked closely with university staff to ensure that London Met standards were improved," he said.

There are about 300,000 non-EU students at university in Britain at any one time, worth an estimated 5 billion pounds a year to the economy.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), April 9, 2013

Monday, April 08, 2013

Foreign students double at IIM-Ahmedabad PGPX

The number of international students in the new batch of one-year Post Graduate Programme in Management for Executives (PGPX) has doubled at the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A). Out of total 85 students, 12 are international students with six foreign citizens. Last year, the institute had six international students in the programme. The institute has also witnessed almost double women students this year compared to the last year.

The eighth batch of IIMA's PGPX (2013-14) was inaugurated on April 7 by IIM-A in-charge director Ajay Pandey. The average GMAT score of the batch of 85 student is 711 with average age of 34 years and average total work experience of 10 years two months. The average international work experience of the batch is about three years.

The batch has 11 women students, almost double than six in previous year. Of the 85 students, 24 students are are residing outside India, spread across ten countries while 76 students have international exposure in terms of work and studies. The batch has 37 students who have a higher qualification (professional, Masters) than bachelors. Also, 16 students have obtained their degrees from outside their home country. Engineers are dominating the PGPX batch as well with 68 (80%) students have engineering degree. Total 21 students have graduated from IIT/NITs, according to a release issued by IIM-A.

The students have worked in sectors like airline, travel, BPO, defense, education, energy and power, financial services, government services, healthcare, hospitality services, infrastructure, IT and IT services, management consultancy, manufacturing engineering, manufacturing process, media, NGOs, retail, shipping and telecom. As many as 29 students have work experience in IT and IT services sector.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), April 8, 2013

88% of IIT-Bombay students say professors inept

Around 88% Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) students claim that they do not study as their professors do not manage to generate interest in their courses. While a few teachers are enthusiastic about teaching, others are not, reveals the second part of a survey conducted by the student's magazine Insight. Fed up with criticism about their "poor performance" compared to previous batches, a group of IITians from the current batch had conducted a survey on the campus.

The first part of the survey focusing on why students don't study at IIT-B, published in the January issue, had revealed that if not put on a deadline for an assignment, 75% students do not spend any time on academics. While more than 75% IITians seem to be more interested in pursuing hobbies, many are hooked on to social networking and micro-blogging sites.

The second part of the survey, published in the April issue, focuses on issues concerning the teaching and learning process in the institute. In this report, students have included reactions from professors, and also made a few observations. The study says there is scope for improvement among the faculty and focuses on the need for a centre for effective teaching.

At least 72% students believe the course content is theoretical, lacks in application and therefore, is not interesting. Many IITians have sought a return to blackboard teaching as they believe that showing slides does not ensure value-addition from the teachers. The study says that teachers have cited large classes as one of the reasons for "inefficient teaching". "With a shortage of faculty, the surge in number of students has not given enough time to the teachers and for the infrastructure to evolve," says the report.

Professors claim that they have to perform two jobs - teach and research. "It is not hard to see why it is possible that research could be more interesting and teaching could be relegated to being one of the unpleasant aspects of the job for many professors," says the report. "Unfortunately, both teaching and research are full-time jobs. Increased focus on one would impact the other," says a teacher in the report. Also, 75% of the students feel they can get a decent grade even by studying a night before the exam, which reflects badly on the standards of learning process. The students have also cited examples of teachers who they think are 'cool' and manage to generate interest in the topics taught in the class.

Devang Khakhar, IIT-B Director, says, "We are constantly working on improving the teaching and learning standards. The senate committee has proposed to set up a "Centre for Effective Teaching and Learning". The institute is also making efforts to build new lecture halls to reduce the class size, and, thus increase interaction between teachers and students."

Students' observations in the report include: A centre for pedagogy is crucial for improving overall teaching standards; Maintain privacy of marks and grades as public disclosure leads to demotivation; Senior faculty can mentor new faculty; Encourage professor-student interactions outside lectures; Teaching assistants should be trained well before they are allowed to assist a course; and Continuous evaluation pattern should be followed instead of the 'four days a semester' study.

Source: The Times of India, April 8, 2013

National body for entrance exams gets nod from state education ministers

India’s state education ministers have approved a plan of Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to establish a national testing body and turn some of the high-profile entrance exams into global brands, setting aside their criticism of the central government on the poor implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) legislation.

The states also didn’t object to some of the key entrance exams being outsourced to private companies to professionalize the way they are conducted, if needed, thus relieving academic bodies and institutions of the need to handle the process. The national body, once in place, will be an umbrella agency.

“The states have given their in-principle approval for setting up of a national body,” said Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State for HRD. The effort is aimed at making the system more efficient. “There is nothing wrong in some of our exams becoming global brands like TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and GRE (Graduate Record Examination),” Tharoor said.

GRE is a global standardized test for admission into engineering schools in the US and several other, mainly English-speaking, countries. It is administered by the US-based Educational Testing Service (ETS). TOEFL is a test of an individual’s ability to use and understand English in an academic setting, designed and administered by ETS.

Tharoor said the ministry will draw up a plan shortly after seeking the advice of experts and academics to make the system robust. Mint had reported on 1 April that the government is planning to outsource some of the entrance exams such as the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) and the National Eligibility Test (NET) to third parties.

GATE is an entrance test for postgraduate courses and doctoral programmes at the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, and is also used by some public sector undertakings (PSUs) to screen engineers for entry-level jobs. NET screens eligibility of candidates for junior research fellowships and lectureships at various Indian universities and colleges.

Once in place, the testing body can standardize aptitude tests, besides measuring the general cognitive, analytical and communication abilities of candidates. It can conduct key entrance exams more than twice a year to give students the opportunity to better their scores.

Some experts said students won’t benefit much if an entrance test such as GATE is conducted more than once a year. “India’s admission cycle does not have multiple entry points in a year. When you have one admission season, multiple exams may not yield a a huge difference,” said Aditya Reddy, Director of GATE Forum, a chain of coaching institutes that prepare students for the exam.

According to government documents, the national body will coordinate with states and various school boards to normalize their marks and create national rankings that will ease the admission procedure — a key concern for IITs when the joint entrance exam pattern changed in 2012. “Standardizing entrance tests is a good move. The first step, however, should be to bring all school boards’ curriculum of the states to the national level,” said K. Parthasarathi, secondary education minister of Andhra Pradesh.

Source: Mint, April 8, 2013

Saturday, April 06, 2013

UK eases immigration rules for overseas graduates to attract best talent

Britain today eased immigration rules for a section of foreign students, including Indians, who wish to stay and work in the country, in a bid to attract the "brightest and the best" global talent. The Home Office has announced a series of reforms which came into force today to encourage the "brightest and the best to come to the UK".

Changes to the "Graduate Entrepreneur Programme" will allow up to 1,000 international graduates with masters degrees in business administration to stay on in Britain to work for 12 months after they finish their course. All graduate students who now complete a PhD will also be allowed to stay in Britain for a further year to find skilled work or set up as an entrepreneur.

"We are building an immigration system which works in the national interest, supporting the UK economy by continuing to attract the brightest and the best global talent, at the same time as protecting our public services and taking a robust approach against those who want to come to the UK simply to exploit our welfare system," immigration minister Mark Harper said in reference to the reforms.

The new rules follow ongoing criticism over tougher student visa norms putting off foreign students from applying to study in Britain. The number of students coming from India to study at UK universities registered a fall of nearly 23.5 per cent last year, including a 28 per cent drop at post-graduate level.

It had led to calls to UK home secretary Theresa May to ease restrictions on the post-study work programme that had previously allowed them to stay on and work in the country for two years after their degree. May had also been under increasing pressure from the business community in Britain, including Cabinet colleague and business secretary Vince Cable, over stringent visa norms for international entrepreneurs and professionals.

As part of the new regulations, the Home Office also moved to scrap an English test for senior business executives who come on intra-company transfers and earn more than 152,100 pounds a year and want to extend their time in Britain.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), April 6, 2013

Friday, April 05, 2013

Global B-schools chart emerging markets course

Last week, a group of 71 second year MBA students from London Business School (LBS) were in Mumbai on a week long trip, soaking in the business culture of the financial capital, meeting CEOs like Raymond Bickson (The Indian Hotels Company - owner of the Taj group of hotels) and Sanjeev Lamba (Reliance Entertainment) and immersing themselves in conversation with the likes of Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and Farhan Akhtar to get a grasp on emerging business trends in Bollywood.

The visit was part of a new curriculum introduced by LBS - global business experience (GBE) - which offers an opportunity for second year MBA students to choose from five locations around the world to gain learning experience. LBS is not the only business school emphasizing on a global business experience for students, with a specific focus on emerging markets. Last August, nearly 300 students from Chicago Booth went on 25 trips around the globe, led by 100 second year trip leaders. The school's first ever emerging markets summit will be held in April this year, wherein students involved in the emerging markets group along with those in groups covering Latin America, South Asia, Africa, Asia-Pacific and other regions, would come together.

Harvard Business School (HBS), on the other hand, has FIELD (Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development), a curricular innovation which was launched two years ago. FIELD is a required first year course that spans a full academic year. The objective of the global immersion portion of the course is to increase students' global intelligence. One of the modules under this takes place in 14 different emerging market countries and is designed to develop students' understanding of what it means to lead in a global setting, in a place they have never been before.

There is a clear shift in business education from being only about location-specific topics and activities to a more global experience-oriented field. "Emerging market learning has become an important quality for a student. You have to allow students to interact with different cultures and draw on the experience when they go out in the world," says Amelia Whitelaw, Associate Director for Global Business Experiences at LBS.

The GBE curriculum at LBS is designed to be fast-paced, engaging and demanding where students are expected to deliver a group project working in an unfamiliar environment and with peers with whom they have not worked before. Likewise, Chicago Booth prepares its students to excel in a global setting. "We do this in several ways, starting even before students arrive on campus. In the summer before students begin classes, they have the option to attend one of many international trips with a small group of their classmates," says Stacey Kole, Deputy Dean of the full-time MBA programme at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Most business schools are striving towards a single objective: to take students out of their comfort zone and put them in a position where they have to act and make decisions, rather than discussing the theory as they do in the case method. "Business is conducted in a global arena and leaders are expected to have a global perspective. In order to be effective, our students have to be as comfortable in Mumbai as they are in Mexico or Manhattan," said Brian C. Kenny, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, HBS. This change has a direct correlation with the way businesses are chasing growth and profitability beyond national borders. All businesses, whether American, European or Asian, are trying to close the gap in globally adept talent.

However, at the Fletcher School, global experience doesn't just mean being able to market a detergent in a foreign country or figuring out how to adapt the car you manufacture to road conditions in poorer countries. "It can mean something as humdrum as: Do you have the ability to cross a cultural chasm and extend your hand in friendship to a business colleague or partner? You should be able to say to your foreign partner/colleague that, 'Not only have I taken the time to write the 40-point PowerPoint deck, but I've also learned how to have a conversation with you over dinner about a sport that you guys probably are deeply interested in and I cannot understand. And I can talk about the sport in the language that you would use'," said Bhaskar Chakravorti, Senior Associate Dean, International Business & Finance, The Fletcher School, Tufts University. That explains why LBS wants its students to become conversant in at least two languages.

Source: The Times of India, April 5, 2013

Quietly, India makes foreign varsity collaborations harder

Only the best foreign universities and the top layer of Indian varsities will be allowed to collaborate under new regulations the University Grants Commission (UGC) is proposing, at a time when a long-awaited law to streamline global tie-ups lies entangled in a web of bureaucratic and political indecision. The UGC regulations will create a mechanism that will allow universities in the US, UK and other developed countries keen to tap the Indian student market an opportunity to join hands with Indian institutions to both offer academic programmes and to conduct research together.

But the new regulations finalized by the UGC at its last meeting are tougher than the Foreign Educational Institutions (FEI) Bill that global varsities were eying as their window into India. The UGC resolved that only “those foreign institutions which are accredited with the highest grade in their homeland should be allowed to collaborate with those Indian institutions which are also accredited with the highest grade by the recognized Indian accrediting agencies.”

Several public universities – including each of Gujarat’s seven universities and Kerala’s two varsities – which have a ‘B’ rating from the National Accreditation and Assessment Council (NAAC) will be unable to collaborate under the UGC regulations if the higher education regulator sticks to its resolution.

Internationally, while a few foreign universities – including Duke and VirginiaTech in the US – have expressed interest in setting up campuses in India, many others, including some Ivy League institutions, are keen on increased collaboration with Indian counterparts.

Currently, Indian institutions can conduct joint research on a project-by-project basis. The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and many other public and private universities also have tie-ups for faculty and student exchange programmes with universities abroad. But Indian law forbids jointly offered degrees and more sustained research collaboration, and bars foreign universities from setting up brick and mortar campuses in India.

The FEI Bill, drafted both as an instrument to allow foreign institutions legal entry into India, and as a mechanism to regulate unauthorized programmes already running here, was introduced in Parliament in 2010. But the draft legislation – that requires applicant foreign institutions to be accredited but not necessarily with the highest grade – has remained stalled in the corridors of power since. The Parliament Standing Committee on human resource development has raised concerns about the legislation.

Sensing political opposition to the plan at a time when it is already struggling for numbers in Parliament, the UPA government has placed the FEI bill on a backburner. Instead, the UGC regulations are aimed at allowing collaboration without permitting brick and mortar campuses or standalone programmes offered by foreign institutions alone.

Source: Hindustan Times, April 5, 2013

Thursday, April 04, 2013

IITs head West for head-hunting

To solve its faculty shortage problem, IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology) are re-inventing their recruitment drives. A few IIT directors and senior professors are planning to personally visit the US — instead of just relying on Skype and videoconferencing — and other foreign countries to hire the best.

There are nearly 43% vacant faculty posts in all IITs. According to a recent reply in the Lok Sabha (Indian Parliament), against the total faculty strength of 6,076 in the 16 IITs across the country, there is a shortage of 2,608.

A team of senior professors from IIT-Kanpur, including the director and dean of faculty, will be visiting US from June 13-23 to interview prospective candidates. “We are organising three events at both coasts: meeting prominent alumni and potential faculty candidate,” Manindra Agrawal, Dean of Faculty IIT-Kanpur told HT.

Pointing out that nearly half of its faculty comes from North America, Agrawal said “ We have a target of recruiting more than 100 faculty over next three years ... This is not to say that we are not focusing within India.”

IIT-Kharagpur, IIT-Delhi and IIT-Bombay are also planning similar programmes. IIT-Delhi Director R.K.  Shevgaonkar said, “I have plans to go with some senior faculty members on a recruitment drive to the US later this year.”

But added, “It is misleading to say that there is a shortage of faculty in IITs. Over the years the strength of students has increased, so obviously this will filter a shortage.”

Source: Hindustan Times, April 4, 2013

School education abroad catches the fancy of Indian parents

Varun Dhawan, a 14-year-old resident of south Mumbai, has packed his bags with plenty of warm clothes and is ready to go. No, he is not going for a vacation, but is going to study at a boarding school in the US, from his Grade-VIII onwards. He is not alone. Dhawan joins a host of other Indian children who have now started moving abroad to study, starting from secondary education itself.

With a higher disposable income, affluent parents in India are not averse to the idea of sending their children abroad for school education. Educationists and education consultants say there has been a 25-30 per cent rise in the number of students going abroad for higher education.

Sunitha Perumal, country head of EF International Academy, said, "People from the upper class send their children to schools abroad. Opportunities that would be available abroad and subject combinations are very vibrant." EF International Academy provides education from grades 9 to 12 in its four campuses in the UK, US and Canada, and has seen students coming from across the world, including India, said Perumal.

For parents who do not want to send their children very far, countries like Singapore and West Asian nations offer a good opportunity. Abraham John, Chairman, The Indian School, Bahrain, said the school had become a preferred destination for school education in the country. The school currently has 10,200 students; their number increased by over 1,200 in academic year 2012-13. "Approximately, 90 per cent students are Indians in our school," John said, adding the school followed the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), and placed an equal emphasis on sports and other activities.

In terms of most popular destinations, educationists said countries like the US, UK and Australia followed by Germany, Singapore and Switzerland were preferred by Indian parents.

On an average, the fee structure for grades 8 to 12 is significantly higher in foreign countries, compared to India. Sample this: The parent of a grade 8 student in an average Indian school in a metro has to pay an annual tuition fee of Rs. 25,000, with an additional Rs. 10,000 spent on books, uniform and stationary. In an average school in the US, the fee structure may range from Rs. 1.5 to 3 million depending on its size and location.

"Though schools abroad are very expensive, we are seeing an increasing number of Indian parents sending their children there. Even individuals from non-metros such as Jalandhar, Surat, Ludhiana and Indore are opting to send their children abroad for school education," said Naveen Chopra, founder and chairman of The Chopras, an overseas education consultancy.

Apart from global exposure, the option to choose from a wide range of subjects, including music and fine arts, is one of the primary reasons why parents send children to schools abroad. "In India, though schools offer facilities like music, dance and sports, these are termed extra-curricular activities. The schools do not take these activities seriously, as they are considered as components over and above the school curriculum," said a New Delhi-based consultant.

In schools abroad, small classes with an average student strength of 15 to 25, with equal emphasis on other aspects of learning, are a 'pull-factor', said consultants. "In countries like the US, there is no undue pressure on students during Grades 9-12, unlike we have here for the board examinations for these grades. Hence, parents who can afford the education there, prefer to send children to schools abroad for holistic learning, compared to textbook education in most Indian schools," said a education sector expert.

A Mumbai-based education consultant said that unlike degree education, visa regulations of most overseas nations placed lesser restrictions on students travelling to those countries for school education. "They do not see these students as a threat to the locals, in terms of employment, which is an issue for higher education courses. Hence, it is relatively easier to get a visa for pursuing school education," said the consultant.

While an overall percentage of students from India are going abroad, the percentage of those going for school education is still small. Educationists expect this trend to continue. Industry experts said that in the next five years, there would be a 30-35 per cent rise in the number of students going abroad for school education.

According to research by the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM-B), Indian student flows to the world grew by 256 percent between 2000 and 2009. The numbers increased from 53,266 to 1,89,629 in the same period.

Source: Business Standard, April 4, 2013

Monday, April 01, 2013

Lack of entry-level talent worries IT companies like Infosys and Wipro

Indian companies are increasingly complaining about the lack of quality talent at the entry level and more so in the IT/ITeS (Information Technology / IT-enabled services) space which recruits fresh graduates in huge numbers. According to a research conducted by a consulting firm, the findings of which were exclusively shared with TOI, only students from tier 1 engineering colleges, like the IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology)and NITs (National Institutes of Technology), which constitute 4.5% of the overall engineering graduates, are fit to work in software products firms like Microsoft and Google given the kind of skills these companies need.

On the other hand, 45% of students from tier 1, 2 and 3 colleges are employable by IT/ITeS services companies like Infosys and Wipro, reflecting the hiring challenges these technology firms grapple with in a fastchanging industry. Overall in 2012, nearly 5.1 million students graduated in India, out of which 45.7% were from the arts stream, said Knowledgefaber, a Bangalore-based research and consulting firm.

Engineering and technology graduates made up 356,000 of the overall talent pool at the graduate level. However, Knowlegefaber's research found that there are huge regional imbalances in the availability of engineering graduates. Four states (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra) together have more than 70% of these graduates. To add to this concern is the question raised on the quality of engineering schools in India and the quality of graduates coming out of these colleges, said the research.

"Customer needs are changing and technology developments are placing greater demand on the industry. Outstanding interface skills, deeper domain knowledge and awareness of the business context has become a 'must have' for today's professionals. Not all colleges that churn out students have been able to build these skills into their curriculum, thereby necessitating companies to bridge the skill gaps and bring about standardization of capability, among students hired from different parts of the country," said Hari T, chief people officer at IT services firm Mahindra Satyam.

This is the reason why companies will have to hunt for talent beyond the IITs and NITs. "Across industries, companies are looking to hire from tier 1 engineering colleges but the competition is very high and it represents less than 5% of the overall talent pool. We feel it is best recommended to look at talent in tier 2 and 3 cities," said Amit Goel, CEO, Knowledgefaber.

Computer science and IT accounts for nearly 32.5% of the fresh engineering talent in India while electronics and mechanical stream comes in second and third with 21.8% and 17.7% of students opting for these streams, respectively.

Sangeeta Lala, Senior VP & Co-founder at TeamLease Services, said, "IT graduate freshers are not usually skilled with new technologies like cloud computing, making them a less preferred option for companies. These companies would then look to internal scaling or experienced candidates who are readily deployable with the knowledge of new technologies." Many IT firms have set up huge training facilities to help these graduates scale up, which experts say is the way forward. Also, they have facilitated tailor-made courses to bring about the right talent on board.

"Through new hybrid models, corporates are sponsoring academic institutionspecific courses, selecting the students as per their needs, providing the content and course material related to their industries and business, which is actually increasing the possibilities of employment for students," said Sunil Goel, MD, GlobalHunt India, a recruitment firm.

Source: The Economic Times, April 1, 2013

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