Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Planning a new university: Contrast between the US and India

Here's an excerpt from an e-mail from my friend Vishnu l highlighting the contrast in the way new institutions are created in the US (specifically, UC-Merced) and India (specifically, lots of IITs, IIITs, Central universities, etc):

It's really funny when you see the govt. planning to set up 14 world class universities. Why 14? Why not 30 (let the other central univs also be "world class")?


I just read about how UC Merced, the latest UC campus, was set up. The planning started in 1988, and the first undergrad students came to campus in 2005. Here, the MHRD decides to set up 7 new IITs, and they start taking students from the next year onwards, without caring about whether there are enough facilities! Sadly, some people will say with pride that we were extremely efficient in setting up these new IITs.

I can give another data point from a century ago: the Indian Institute of Science. It took over 13 years (1896-1909) for Jamsetji Tata's vision to be realized, and two more years before the first students started trooping in (a part of this tortuous prehistory is summarized in an earlier post).


  1. Anonymous said...

    Can you clarify exactly what aspect of an institution building takes 13 yrs or very long time ?
    I agree hiring the right faculty and equipping labs will take time. But the rest like just constructing buildings, hostels and equipping it with furnitures, computers shouldn't take too much time in this modern age.

  2. Anonymous said...

    I agree that starting the process of admitting students is a tricky issue. After the basic buildings are ready and you have hired a "quorum" of theoretical faculty, teaching can begin. And reg. expt labs - setting up labs from scratch can become useful masters/ug projects. Expt. Ph.D. production may have to wait slight longer.

  3. biswajit said...

    It's sad to see that Indian intellectuals have essentially given up on improving existing institutions.

    I found a recent post by Ajit Jadhav at his blog quite depressing. Any further comments on the state of pay in Indian engineering colleges?