A committee formed by the Center for the global expansion of IITs, in consultation with Indian missions abroad, identified the UK, UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Malaysia and Thailand as possible locations for offshore campuses under the “Indian International Institute of Technology” brand name, Sunday Express learnt.
According to a report submitted to the Ministry of Education by a 17-member committee headed by IIT Council Standing Committee Chairperson Dr K Radhakrishnan, these seven countries ranked high on several key parameters.
Parameters include level of interest and commitment, academic pedigree, quality faculty and supportive ecosystem to attract students, regulatory provisions to enhance India’s “branding and relationships” and potential benefits.
The report is based on feedback from 26 Indian mission chiefs, the Economic Diplomacy Division of the Ministry of External Affairs arranged two virtual sessions between the committee and embassy officials on February 2 and March 28.
According to input shared by the Indian High Commission in the UK, the mission has “received six specific offers of cooperation from the University of Birmingham, King’s College London, University of Exeter, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge and University College London”.
“Our mission has made multiple requests for a meeting between the university and the IIT committee. It has further requested a detailed concept note and nodal contact point to take forward this proposal,” said the report, which was reviewed by The Indian Express.
The report also states that IIT-Delhi is the preferred choice for UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Malaysia. According to reports, Egypt is keen to launch a system online from 2022-23. However, the committee advised no rush, saying only residential campuses should be opened after due deliberations.
“A specific minimum area commitment for the campus is required from the local government while establishing the new institute. Institutions are being established not for trade but to build the country’s image abroad. Therefore, these institutions should cater to the local student population (which may be Indian diaspora). The percentage of Indian students in these institutions should be less than 20%,” the report said.
The proposal to expand IITs abroad is not new. For example, IIT Delhi is already in discussions with the Department of Education and Knowledge in Abu Dhabi, UAE, while IIT Madras is exploring options in Sri Lanka, Nepal and Tanzania.
So far, discussions have mainly been about individual IITs. The committee proposed for the first time a model under which a chain of institutions would be set up as consultants to domestic IITs under the Indian International Institute of Technology brand name.
The committee members included directors of IIT Delhi, Madras, Kharagpur; ISM Dhanbad, Guwahati, Kanpur; Indian Institute of Science; NIT Surathkal; and the Vice-Chancellors of JNU, University of Delhi, University of Hyderabad and Banaras Hindu University; and, Dean (International Relations) IIT Bombay.
“The new institutes may be called ‘Indian International Institute of Technology at (Name of Country)’. The proposed name is sufficiently close to IIT and international has been added to emphasize/clarify that the institute is located outside India. Name differentiation (with sufficient similarities) will allow newly established institutes to develop their own identity and ethos while drawing on the strengths of existing IITs,” the report said.
However, for the project to be successful and not burdensome on the consulting firm, “substantial investment by the host country government or the Government of India” would be required, the report said. “In fact the sponsoring institute in India should expect a reasonable amount of royalty (say 10 per cent to 15 per cent of the overall cost of the offshore campus) from such a campus,” the committee said in the report.
In addition, the offshore campus must follow the host country’s laws and regulations, which dictate that there will be no reservations for students or employees unless provided by local law. “The Act of Parliament through which these institutes are created should give them more freedom than the existing IITs,” the committee said in the report.
The committee’s report ranked Bhutan, Nepal, Bahrain, Japan, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea and Uzbekistan one step down among the seven countries identified. Indian authorities should also take measures in these countries, the committee said.