Saturday, May 31, 2014

An MBA doesn’t mean big money: Report

A recent study has punctured the myth that a B-school degree guarantees a fat pay packet. The average annual salary offered to students during placements in close to 40% of B-schools across the country is less than Rs. 300,000, it has revealed. Students from just 1% of the 4,500 institutes across the country — the top business schools that command Rs. 1.2-1.5 milion as course fees — are offered an annual salary upwards of Rs. 900,000 during campus placement.

The country's MBA dream, says the Crisil Research report, is fading fast as there is more awareness about the (lack of) quality, infrastructure and decreasing return on investment.

Around 37% of the B-schools were placed in the bottom, with many failing sometimes failing to place a single student. The average annual salary for those more fortunate is Rs. 300,000. The largest chunk of B-schools — around 52% — falls in the Tier-III category of the study with an average annual salary of Rs. 300,000-500,000. That apart, just 60-80% of students in this category are offered jobs during campus placements.

For the study, Crisil categorized B-schools into four different categories based on parameters such as occupancy rate, number of students placed, average annual salaries offered and average course fees charged. The seat occupancy rate is the worst in the 37% institutes that fall in Tier-IV. It is understandable, given that many fail to place any student some years; some though, manage to place up to 60% of a batch.

The report predicts an improvement in the occupancy rate in the next two years, though, as several "B-grade B-schools" are shutting shop. "The number of B-schools in the country swelled to an estimated 4,500 in 2012-13 from 3,000 in 2009-10. However, in recent times, there are fewer takers for MBA programmes, especially in Tier-III and Tier-IV B-schools. Consequently, several institutes have had to shut shop," stated the report.

G D Yadav, Vice-Chancellor of the Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT), who also submitted a report on vacancies in technical institutes in the state, including engineering and MBA/MMS courses, said the study is not at all surprising. "Students who lose interest in engineering are also going for an MBA degree. Therefore, there was a surge in demand and more institutes came up. But not all offered quality education. There will be only a handful of institutes that are good and most sought-after," said Yadav.

A senior state government official refused to comment saying such an analysis is never done at the state level. But it is quite possible, said the official. The report said cutting size to improve the rate of utilization is the only solution for lower-rung institutes.

"Due to low utilization, inadequate infrastructure, poor placements and unavailability of qualified faculty, we expect more Tier-IV institutes to shut shop in the near future... We expect the occupancy rate to improve to 70-72% by 2015-16 from the 68-70% in 2013-14," stated the report. It concluded by saying that B-schools that focus on quality and forging tie-ups with industry will continue to do well, the rest will have to re-orient or shut shop.

Source: The Times of India, May 31, 2014

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Destination Europe for high quality education at low cost

Europe is no longer just a holiday destination for Indians. With universities offering quality education at 70% of what it would cost to study in the US and the UK, middle-class students are opting for European institutions. Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, Latvia and Sweden are among the preferred destinations since most universities are government-funded and scholarships are aplenty. Students only have to cover living expenses.

"Students want excellent faculty, job opportunities and lower costs. Italy, France and Germany fit the bill," said G K Unnithan, educational consultant, Manchester Group, Coimbatore. "The destination also depends on the course the student wants to study. For automobile and aeronautical engineering, Germany is the best place," he said.

Prashandh Sankarappan, who is doing an MS in process engineering in Technical University of Hamburg, had got admission in a university in Canada too. "But my family could not afford it. Here in Germany, I do not have to pay tuition fees. I only have to take care of my living expenses," said Prashandh, who is from Mettupalayam.

Living expenses can be high, but students are allowed to work, an option usually not available to those going to the US or the UK. "You could help a doctoral student with research and earn about Euro 400 (Rs. 32,000) a month. You can also get a part-time job, which is easy if you know German," he said.

"Most German universities are funded by the government so there are no tuition fees," said Unnithan. "Even if a student has to pay, it would be about Rs. 600,000 a year," he said. In the US, tuition fees a two-year postgraduate programme could cost between Rs. 2.6 million and Rs. 3 million, not including living expenses. In Frankfurt and Munich, living expenses come to around Euro 1,500 a month (Rs. 120,000), while in other places it is about Euro 1,250 a month (around Rs. 100,000).

"Most people choose the US or Canada for MBA but I chose Germany for its strong economy and job opportunities. It is cheaper too," said Sriram Giridhar, a student of European Business School near Frankfurt. Around 800 German visas were issued to students from Tamil Nadu in 2013 and 400 visas have been issued until May 2014, a German Consulate official said.

While Germany is trending, students are also looking at Belgium and Latvia. "Research facilities are excellent and Belgium is so beautiful," said Madurai-based biotechnology student Ovia Kumaran. She is set to join KU Leuven University in Belgium for an MS in biophysics, biochemistry and biotechnology. Her tuition fees will come to about Euro 700 a year (Rs. 56,000).

"There are many cheaper destinations for students, but the seats are fewer. So, students always have the US as a back-up where there are at least 3,500 universities," says Krishna Kumar, consultant, Score Getter, Chennai.

Source: The Times of India, May 29, 2014

Friday, May 23, 2014

HRD: Focus on skills, scholarships, job-oriented education

A lot of what the incoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi promises would be easier to achieve if education gets top priority. The government must focus on changing lives through out-of-the-box initiatives.

Higher education, in particular, is in disarray and needs to be reinvigorated. Building of skills needs focus as that would increase employability of the youth. The Modi government should build on several good UPA initiatives and further strengthen them by plugging loopholes, boost spending on education to at least 6% of GDP, a globally accepted standard, to provide the much-needed funds to increase school enrolment and, most importantly, check the persistently high dropout rates.

To ensure access to quality education, scholarships, book banks, IT facilities, translation services and institutional infrastructure should be made compliant with highest standards in all parts of the country. Modernize teachers' training and strictly monitor through an independent mechanism; revamp teaching methods by use of modern technologies and methods; make service conditions and remuneration of teachers more secure and attractive.

The new Government should also take the following actions to make Indian education more dynamic: Accord highest priority to skill development and training in vocational/technical subjects with dynamic linkages to industry needs; Strengthen Right to Education; Help states with funds so that trained and qualifed teachers are recruited and ensure their attendance is ensured; Recast Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan in terms of syllabus and give English teaching top priority; Revamp the UGC (University Grants Commission) and implement promise of higher education commission; Scrap AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) and merge it with new commission. Government should also bridge the gap between central and state universities; bolster Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan for this purpose.

The new Government should stop opposing sanction for foreign universities to set up campuses in India; do quality audit of Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs); ask IITs to pay attention to research and not just be factories producing engineers; give IIMs deemed university status to encourage genuine research in a fast changing economy; and create more IITs and IIMs.

Source: The Times of India, May 23, 2014

Fewer Indian students coming to UK: Report

Over 65,000 fewer students are now coming to study in Britain from Commonwealth countries such as India and Pakistan, according to an immigration report published on Thursday.

The Office of National Statistics confirmed a steep decline in students from India and other Commonwealth countries following new visa rules imposed by the UK. "The number of overseas students coming to study in Britain from Commonwealth countries such as India and Pakistan had fallen from 100,000 to 35,000 in the past three years," the report said.

A majority of Indian students have admitted to feeling highly unwelcome in Britain recently. A study of the attitudes of 3,100 international students by the National Union of Students revealed almost 50% feel the UK government was either "not welcoming" or "not welcoming at all towards overseas students".

Britain earns £7.9 billion a year from international students. By 2024, one in every three outbound higher education students across the globe is expected to be from India and China.

Source: The Times of India, May 23, 2014

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

IIT-Gandhinagar to offer Master of Arts in Society and Culture

The state's engineering Mecca is gradually giving the humanities their due. IIT-Gandhinagar (IIT-Gn) is geared up to add a comprehensive, stand-alone, two-year Master of Arts in Society and Culture to its repertoire. The degree will be the first to deal with South Asian culture and society at any IIT.

The first batch will begin in July this year and 15 students have been selected for it. According to Dr Sudhir Jain, Director, IIT-Gn, the MA program reflects the strength and eclectic nature of faculty expertise across the social sciences and humanities department, making the programme one-of-its-kind in the country.

"Some of themes we will study are identity and difference, development and exclusion, local and transnational mobility, population and health, among others," said Dr Srinivas Reddy, Assistant Professor, South Asian Studies, IIT-Gn.

The course will cover subjects like Archaeology of Ideas, South Asia: History, Culture and Society, qualitative and quantitative research methods, musical traditions of India and even cinematic history. "The focus will be South Asia with India and Bangladesh forming most of the curriculum," said Dr Rita Kothari, Associate Professor, Translation Studies. A thesis at the end of two years will be compulsory.

IIT-Gn has frequently held talks by academicians and experts on its campus since its inception in 2008. For instance, political scientist Christophe Jaffrelot came during the election to hold discussions here. "This is a natural extension of the institute's innovative academic agenda which has integrated a high degree of non-technical, humanities and social sciences coursework into both UG and PG curricula," explained Reddy.

While a minimum criteria for students who can apply will be a bachelors degree in any discipline, the masters degree will help students take up careers in journalism, advertising, media, communications, writing, teaching, human resources, NGOs, policy think-tanks and higher studies.

Among other IITs, IIT-Madras launched its Master of Arts in Development Studies and English Studies in 2006; IIT-Guwahati has its Master of Arts in Development Studies since 2009; IIT-Hyderabad has a Master in Philosophy under Liberal Arts; IIT-Kharagpur had its unique Master of Human Resource and Management degree since 1982 but restructured it in 2010 to meet contemporary demand.

Source: The Times of India, May 21, 2014

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Only 4 of 10 Tamil Nadu government engineering colleges have principals

Government professional colleges in Tamil Nadu are struggling with a severe shortage of faculty. An RTI (Right to Information) application filed by The Times of India (TOI) with the Directorate of Technical Education has revealed that only four of the 10 government engineering colleges have full-time principals and 17 of the 41 government polytechnics do not have full-time principals.

According to the data, nearly half of teachers' posts in government engineering colleges and polytechnics are lying vacant. The 10 engineering colleges have just 33 professors against a sanctioned strength of 50 and have a shortage of 130 assistant professors. In the 41 polytechnics, there are just seven heads of department against a sanctioned 141, while 993 posts of lecturers are lying vacant.

All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) rules mandate a 1:15 teacher-student ratio for engineering colleges and 1:20 for polytechnics, but this is rarely followed in several government professional colleges in the state. When contacted, commissioner of technical education Kumar Jayant said steps were being taken to fill vacancies and added that it was an ongoing process.

This drastic shortage of teachers, say experts, shows in the quality of technical education. "How can you expect academic excellence from the hourly appointed faculties appointed in these colleges," asked Association of University Teachers member Dr V Balusamy. Most government professional institutions were facing a severe shortage of faculty, affecting thousands of students, he said. "For instance, Government College of Technology, Coimbatore, one of the pioneering technical institutions in the state is now grappling with severe shortage of faculties." He also pointed out that there was a marginal decrease in the number of engineering graduates taking up teaching as a profession. "Branches like civil and mechanical are the worst hit as those graduating in these fields are largely sought by industry."

Educationist S S Rajagopal said the state government was not keen on filling vacancies in government colleges. "It is more interested in distributing freebies than appointing qualified faculty in colleges. There is a dip in the number of qualified teachers in these colleges. National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM ) Regional Director K Purushothaman said the onus of filling vacancies in professional colleges was on the government. "We expect the academicians to come closer to expectations of industry by recruiting qualified, committed and passionate teachers."

Source: The Times of India, May 20, 2014

Thursday, May 15, 2014

AICTE nod must for new technical colleges

The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has written to the vice-chancellors of all the universities to ensure that no technical college, including management institute, is granted affiliation unless it has secured prior approval of the council for the academic year 2014-15. The letter, issued on May 12 by AICTE Chairman S S Mantha, comes in the wake of the Supreme Court's interim orders on April 17 and May 9, restoring the AICTE's powers to approve new technical institutes or colleges for the year 2014-15.

"Prior approval of AICTE is compulsory and mandatory to conduct a technical course, including the management/MBA course, by an existing affiliated technical college and also new technical college which will require affiliation by a university for conduct of its technical courses/programmes for the year 2014-15," ruled a four-member apex court bench, headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha, on May 9. The court was hearing a writ petition by the Orissa Technical Colleges Association (OTCA).

The issue of which statutory body should grant approval to new technical colleges was being debated in the wake of the SC's judgment on April 25, 2013, in the Association of Managements of Private Colleges Vs AICTE case. The SC had ruled that the Council's nod was not required for institutes affiliated to universities or for the grant of affiliation to new technical colleges by the universities.

The University Grants Commission (UGC), which regulates higher education in the country, had since come out with draft guidelines for new technical colleges/institutes. While these guidelines are pending final approval by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), the UGC had also declared a one-year moratorium on the sanction of new technical colleges in the fields of engineering and management.

However, after the apex court's interim order in the OTCA case, the AICTE promptly released a notification on May 10 laying down the schedule for submission of pleas for new technical institutions, variation of students intake and starting of new courses in existing institutions, closure of courses and change in name of institutes. The online pleas have to reach the Council by May 18 and the approval process is expected to be completed by June 3.

A day after Mantha's letter, the director of technical education in Maharashtra also issued a notification putting out the online approval process schedule for new technical institutes/colleges in the state. Mantha's letter states, "Technical education, as defined under AICTE Act, 1987, includes programmes of education, research and training in engineering and technology, architecture, town planning, management, pharmacy and applied arts and crafts. The Council has been granting approvals to technical institutes and college requiring affiliation from universities and technical boards."

Source: The Times of India, May 15, 2014

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

17 Indian Varsities Among Asia’s Top 300

Seventeen Indian universities have made it to the Asia Pacific rankings of ranking agency Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) this year compared to 11 last year. Ranking agency QS released the rankings, which include Asia’s top 300 universities, in association with non-profit organisation The Indian Centre for Assessment & Accreditation (ICAA)in New Delhi on Monday.

Six Indian institutes have made an entry to the list. Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Panjab University, Manipal University, Amity University, Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), and the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) made it to the Asia rankings for the first time this year. 

“There has been a considerable improvement in the number of Indian universities making it to the Asia rankings this year. This reflects increasing engagement between Indian institutions and ranking agencies,” said John O Leary, member of the executive board, QS World University Rankings. “The ones at the top are IITs which are close to where they were.Going up or down by a few positions does not signify a big change in performance. The increase in numbers is a good sign and one I expect to continue,” he added. 

As in the previous editions of the rankings, the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) led the way. IIT-Delhi held on to its 38th position like last year, ahead of IIT-Bombay which was placed at 41. Five other IITs featured in the top 100, led by Kanpur and Madras just outside the top 50 at 52 and 53, respectively.

“The IITs have a great reputation among graduate employers, and now produce a relatively high volume of research,but it is not yet having a significant impact in terms of citations,” said QS head of research Ben Sowter. “India’s improved strength in depth is a sign of progress, but there is a long way to go before the IITs can compete with the very best institutions in Asia,”he added.

The annual Asia rankings of QS are a regional variant of their global world university rankings which have been published annually since 2004. The Asia rankings are based on responses from 43,000 Asian and international academics, 8,000 Asian and international employers, and evaluation of 491 institutions. While academic reputation is given 30% weightage for ranking institutions, student/faculty ratio accounts for 20% of the overall criteria followed by papers per faculty, citations per paper, employer reputation and internationalisation at 15%, 15%, 10% and 5%, respectively. 

Among traditional universities, University of Delhi took the lead at 81, having slipped one place since last year. It is ranked in the top 25 in Asia by employers and the top 40 by academics, but was found lacking in some other indicators like low levels of international faculty and student exchange which brought down its overall ranking. On the other hand, University of Calcutta ranked highly on student exchange, coming second in Asia for outbound exchange and 52nd for inbound.

TV Mohandas Pai, Chairman of ICAA stated: “Inadequate policies are holding back Indian institutions. For instance, IIT-Delhi could have been in the top 20 on a number of parameters but lost out as it did not have international faculty members and had inadequate international students. We’re not giving our institutions adequate freedom and not allowing them to be global in their approach. We need changes in regulatory frameworks to address these issues.”

ICAA is also planning to launch India-specific rankings by 2016 in association with QS. “This is to create interest in the Indian institutions to participate in global rankings and understand the various parameters of the ranking process. We are deliberating the framework for launching India rankings,” said A Jeyaprakash, Vice-Chairman, ICAA. 

Premier IITs and other Indian universities failed to make it to the top 200 global QS rankings of world's leading universities released last year. ICAA has been trying to fill existing lacunae by getting Indian institutes and ranking agencies together and has a goal of assisting in the inclusion of five Indian universities in the top 200 world university rankings by 2025.

Source: The Economic Times, May 13, 2014

Monday, May 12, 2014

No Indian varsity in top-10 of Asian ranking list; IIT-Delhi at 38th position

No Indian university features among the top 10 varsities in Asia in the latest QS university rankings with the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi (IIT-Delhi) securing the best standing for an Indian institution at the 38th position on the list. In all, 10 Indian institutions have found a place in the rankings, which was released here today.

The first copy of the rankings was presented to President Pranab Mukherjee by a delegation from QS, ICAA, British Council, FICCI and KPMG, who have partnered in the programme. The President had time and again regretted the presence of any Indian university on the global rankings list. After IIT-Delhi, IIT-Bombay came in at the 41st position while IIT-Kanpur secured the 52nd spot on the list.

National University of Singapore (NUS) topped the rankings for the first time, while Korea's KAIST rose from the sixth to second place. University of Hong Kong was at third place. As far as Indian institutes are concerned, IIT-Madras was No. 53, IIT-Kharagpur No. 60, IIT-Roorkee at No. 70 and IIT-Guwahati at No.95. Compared to last year and barring IIT-Delhi, all of these institutes have slipped in the rankings.

Amongst traditional varsities, University of Delhi took the lead and placed at No. 81, a slide of one spot from last year. It is ranked in the top 25 in Asia by employers and in the top 40 by academics, but is handicapped on some indicators due to its large size and low levels of international faculty and student exchange. Only the University of Calcutta ranks high in terms of students' exchange, coming second in Asia for outbound exchanges and 52nd for inbound ones. The report though mentions the growing interest in international rankings among Indian institutions.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), May 12, 2014

IIT Bombay launches its first MOOCs

Further to its collaboration with EdX, a massive open online course (MOOC) platform, last year, the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B ) recently launched its first three MOOCs. While sessions for two of the courses — Introduction to Computer Programming (part one) and Thermodynamics — will commence this July, the third course — Introduction to Computer Programming (part two) — will begin in September.

Informs Deepak Phatak, Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT-Bombay, "The quality and content offered online will be same as that offered on our campus. The only difference being the MOOCs will allow students to learn anytime, from anywhere and at a convenient speed. Students can revisit study material as and when required and skip familiar topics."

The courses can be pursued by anyone and will be delivered through sessions grouped into several themes or topics. Each session will be made up of two to four 15-20 minute 'episodes.' Each episode will consist of a video recorded lecture of about 8-10 minutes, followed by some practice problems and quizzes.

There will be additional reading material/references, which the participants can use for greater clarity, if required. Regular interactive sessions through discussion forums, video conferencing and other such technologies are also being planned.

Students can register for an honour code certificate or for audit free of cost for the initial offerings. For students who wish to get a verified certificate of achievement at the end of the course, a charge of about Rs. 1,500 will be levied.

Source: The Times of India, May 12, 2014

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Why IIT-Guwahati is now in the big league

Back in the late ’90s, professors who were offered jobs at IIT-Guwahati (IIT-G) were scared to take them up. It wasn’t the prospect of a new institute that was intimidating. “We had heard so much about insurgency-related violence in the region,” says a faculty member who “risked” the assignment.

IIT-G had its work cut out when it first launched in 1994, the result of a promise made by the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi to student agitators. Apart from coaxing students and faculty to a remote location in a violence-ridden state, it had to replicate the standards of academic excellence set by the other IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology). Two decades down, they’re at the top — IIT-G is the only Indian college to make it to the “100 under 50” listing of new global universities, coming in 87th on the UK-based Times Higher Education World University Rankings. 

So how did this happen? Even in 2004, the IIT review board was grappling with the “special case” that IIT-G presented. The review report stated that the 285 hectare campus, located 20 km from the city centre, was in a region that suffered from “locational disadvantages”. Apart from poor rail and road connections, the single track rail link from Guwahati to New Jalpaiguri was said to be prone to disruption by accidents, floods and other disturbances. The report also mentioned parents’ fears of its remote location as one of the reasons why the IIT-G campus was “the last choice in any branch among all IITs” for students. Recruitment and retention of faculty was another problem heightened by the “under-developed area”. 

The turnaround came in the last five to six years with a new focus on recruiting locals and serving locals through research. Several members, department heads and even two former directors, D N Buragohain and Gautam Barua, have roots in the region. “It’s important to connect with the local ethos,” says S S Mantha, Chairman of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). 

Taking its cue from the 2004 review board suggestions, IIT-G introduced various incentives for faculty, including a special area allowance. They also offered new faculty members a “start-up research grant”. In 2013, 22 projects worth Rs. 10.8 million were sanctioned under this scheme. “Our research work has been published in many international journals,” says IIT-G Director Gautam Biswas, calling it the institute’s greatest strength.

Faculty figures are on a steady rise — in just three months, from end 2012 to March 2013, 29 appointments were made to take the total teaching staff to 325. It’s come a long way from the time IIT-G was just two years old and the then director Gautam Barua went to the US scouting for talent among former IITians. Several of those he interviewed were not even aware a new IIT had been established. “We were mostly left with candidates not picked up by any of the older IITs,” Barua says. The solution: look for talent within. “We knew the strength of the IIT system and realized that there were many bright PhDs that the IITs were graduating.” Today, the institute is attracting global talent, with about 15% faculty having graduated from top universities abroad.

The jump in student numbers has also been significant. PhD students have gone up from 895 in 2012 to 1,113 in 2013. There are even 14 foreign students enrolled for various full-time programmes. “One of our thrust areas is to develop a student care system, which can activate dormant capacity of poor performers,” says Biswas, revealing that a mechanism of ‘hand-holding’ by well-performing students is being designed.

The institute’s biggest drawback — insurgency — has also been sorted out to an extent, with violence in the area abating. Natesan Srinivasan, mathematics professor, says up until 2003, when he joined, it was a big concern for faculty and parents alike. “Our fears went away after we saw the picturesque campus. Now thanks to our research reports making waves, we hear good stories instead,” says Srinivasan, who has picked up basic Assamese. Parents, too, are more open-minded about sending their kids to the distant northeast as compared to, say, those back in the ’90s. 

The beautiful buildings and scenic campus are an additional plus, say educationists. Mantha believes that its success can serve as a role model for the newer IITs struggling to establish their credibility. “Building strong local ties through consultancy assignments is another Guwahati lead they can follow,” he says. Over 133 consultancy projects were undertaken in 2013 with state government departments, railways, National Highways Authority of India, oil and gas sector, etc. The institute received new projects of Rs. 426 million in 2013, up from Rs. 283.5 million in the previous year.

The most significant indicator of an institute’s success is its ability to find jobs for students and IIT-G has done well on that front. In 2013, of the 909 students registered for placements, 72% B-Tech and 100% B-Design have been placed till date. “The turnaround of IIT-G demonstrates how software can trump hardware, how a hostile geography of work is not a binding constraint for institutions of higher learning, and how disproportionate signaling value can be created by international rankings,” says Manish Sabharwal, Chairman and co-founder of staffing firm Teamlease Services. “This will be good for the IIT system as it will foster competition since some of the older institutions were starting to cruise on past glory.”

Source: The Times of India, May 4, 2014

Growing number of Indian students now heading to France

Hyderabad-based professional Dominic Holt is currently studying the finer points of marketing designer watches, haute couture and supercars in France. A French degree in luxury management looks way better on the CV than an Indian one, he figured before winging his way to the mecca of luxe. Like Holt, an increasing number of Indian students are heading to France to do their MBAs. While luxury and brand management is very much in demand, courses such as sports management and CSR are also sought after.

“Last year, 3,000 students went to France from India,” says Vikash Golla, who heads the Delhi branch of Campus France. “As much as 75% are in the field of management,” he adds. Some like Holt are mid-career students, while others are fresh out of college. Golla says that a decade ago, France attracted only about a 100 Indian students an year. But of late, institutes like the ESC Rennes School of Business (or École Supérieure de Commerce de Rennes) have seen a surge in Indian applications.

Last September, 70 of the 210 applicants at ESC Rennes were Indian, twice the previous year’s number. One reason is that all the courses at the school are in English and 80% of the faculty is non-French. At the century-old ESSEC Business School, 50% of the faculty is ‘international’. In all, France offers over 800 programmes in English.

Changes in visa rules last year have also made France more attractive. “Visa regulations now allow students to work for some time after completing the programme and this may be a factor,” says Carole Bonani, Associate Dean for Faculty at ESC. This year, says Golla, around 10 students are heading to INSEAD which, according to him, has one of the most rigorous admission processes.

Golla said India’s increased interest in French institutions can also be traced to the cost factor. “In France, even private institutions are heavily subsidized. And the embassy offers a range of scholarships”, he says. On average, tuition fees amount to about Rs. 1 million per annum. However, most Indian students return home after their studies since it’s difficult to land paid internships or jobs because of the language hurdle. But the Europe experience — travel, exposure, internships and group projects — radically improves their prospects back home, say students.

Source: The Times of India, May 4, 2014

Saturday, May 03, 2014

UGC plans cluster colleges as option to deemed university

No new deemed university has come up in the country in the last seven years, primarily because of the court case challenging the 2010 University Grants Commission (UGC) regulations. With the issue still in court, the UGC now plans to introduce the idea of cluster colleges as an alternative to deemed universities.

"We want to get some big universities to disaffiliate some institutions. They can't become deemed universities at the moment till the Tandon Committee report issue is resolved, but can be considered an alternative," said UGC Vice-Chairman H Devaraj.

Some, like Osmania University with 900 affiliated colleges, Pune University with 811 and Tamil Nadu Teachers' Education University with 661 colleges, were too big and the UGC was open to helping groups of colleges under possibly the same management to disaffiliate from the university and be grouped together. They may be made into degree awarding institutions, provided they meet requirements. Instead of the management having to make extraordinary efforts to ensure that one college meets university criteria, it would be easier to club all colleges under the same management to bring it to university standards, Devaraj said.

Academics said this may not be possible unless the UGC Act was amended. Sastra University Dean (Planning and Development) S Vaidhyasubramaniam said, "The character of a university is its comprehensiveness. Besides grouping and awarding university status, the UGC could award university status and encourage multi-disciplinarity."

The UGC on Friday approved a three-year Bachelor of Vocation (BVoc) course, going beyond the conventional arts, commerce and science streams. Of 338 applications from educational institutions across the country, the UGC approved 92. "A majority of the colleges offering the course are in Maharashtra (around 30) because the state has an industrial culture," said Prof Devaraj. In Tamil Nadu, it will be offered at Avinashilingam College and PSGR Krishnammal College for Women in Coimbatore and St Joseph's College in Trichy.

The course will provide skill and specialization in different vocations, including retail marketing, hospitality management and carpentry. It will have a multiple-exit provision - a certificate at the end of the first year, a diploma after two years and a degree after three years. The UGC has made provisions for financial assistance up to Rs 18.5 million for the colleges selected for BVoc programme under the National Skill Qualification Framework.

Source: The Times of India, May 3, 2014

Thursday, May 01, 2014

IIT Guwahati leads India into top 100 global varsity rankings

The prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Guwahati has made it to the world's top 100 university rankings, bringing India for the first time on the list. IIT-Guwahati is the only Indian educational institute in the 2014 league table of '100 Under 50' institutions released by the 'Times Higher Education' (THE) magazine in London.

The IIT shares the 87th rank on the list with Portugal's New University of Lisbon and Australia's University of Western Sydney. The annual evaluation of the world's top 100 universities under 50 years of age had a distinct Eastern stance with South Korea's Pohang University of Science and Technology topping the list for the third consecutive year. 

"There has been a great deal of soul-searching in India over the fact that none of its universities make the World University Rankings' top 200 - a serious concern given the country's great intellectual history and growing social and economic influence," said Phil Baty, rankings editor at THE magazine. "But this new analysis, which examines the next generation of global university stars, should be encouraging. Of the 'BRICS' nations, Russia, mainland China and South Africa do not make the grade, so it is cause for optimism that the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati breaks into the top 100," he added. 

The '100 Under 50 2014' uses the same comprehensive list of 13 performance indicators that underpin the prestigious THE World University Rankings, but employs an especially re-calibrated methodology to better capture the characteristics of young institutions.

"It looks to the future by examining a new breed of global universities - those that have managed to join the world elite in a matter of decades rather than centuries, and those with the potential to become the next generation's Harvard or Oxford," THE said in a statement.

Asia again makes an impressive showing in the rankings, bolstered by India's inclusion. The top Asian nation in terms of numbers is Taiwan, which has four representatives (down from five), led by the National Sun Yat-Sen University in 40th, the statement said.

Switzerland's Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne retains second position and at the third position is another South Korean institute - Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.

Source: The Times of India, May 1, 2014

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