Higher Education

On course to NEP 2020 implementation IITs look to shed engineering school tag

Over the next 10 years, educational institutions in India will change from being a single discipline institute to multidisciplinary. And, Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) across the country seem to be taking the lead in this process.

Be it IIT Kharagpur, IIT Delhi or IIT Roorkee – the institutes are now slowly expanding the non-engineering offerings to ensure that students from all academic backgrounds can study at the institute.

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One may ask why this change. This is not just because the institutes want to have a diverse pool of candidates studying at the IITs, but it is also in the direction of what the government wants.

The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, which has been approved by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Union Cabinet, has said that by 2030 all higher education institutes should become multidisciplinary.

By 2040, these institutes will be required to have 3,000 or more students by becoming multidisciplinary academic institutions.

NEP 2020 said that this would help build vibrant communities of scholars and peers, break down harmful silos, enable students to become well-rounded across disciplines including artistic, creative, and analytic subjects.

Here is how a few IITs are aiming to break the barrier and welcome non-engineering students into the institutes:

IIT Roorkee

At IIT Roorkee, there is an effort to diversify into non-engineering streams by offering undergraduate and postgraduate streams.

NP Padhy, professor and dean academic affairs, IIT Roorkee told Moneycontrol that the institute offers degrees in MSc, B Arch, M Arch, MURP, MBA as non-engineering programmes.

Even for the students in engineering programmes, the structure caters for courses from non-engineering disciplines in the first year as well as specialization and elective courses later in the programmes.

Over the last two years, non-engineering courses like management, humanities are being offered for the students.

Padhy added that IIT Roorkee has recently introduced two major programmes. One is DBT supported MSc (Biotechnology) and another one is a new term wise MBA from the current session 2020-21. There is another multi-disciplinary programme in the pipeline related to design.

“The institute has consistently explored avenues and opportunities, wherever possible, to develop it as a multi-disciplinary institute. The same will continue and plan in the future will be made. At present Masters in Design (M DES) and MIM (Masters in Innovation Management) are being developed and will be rolled out next year,” he added.

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IIT Delhi

Among the non-engineering departments at IIT Delhi are the Humanities and Social Sciences, and the Design department.

At the humanities and social sciences department, courses related to economics, linguistics, policy, philosophy and sociology among others are taught. These are typically credit programmes taken by existing students.

However, this department also offers MSc in Economics, MSc in Cognitive Science and Phd programme in seven academic disciplines (Economics, Literature, Linguistics, Philosophy, Policy, Psychology, and Sociology).

The institute website said that the Bachelors of Design course will be rolled out in the next couple of years at the institute.

The institute has also set up an independent ‘School of Artificial Intelligence (ScAI)’ at its campus. This school will begin its doctoral programme from January 2021 onwards. At a later stage, the institute is also looking to add postgraduate programmes in this AI school.

IIT Kharagpur

In August 2020, IIT Kharagpur has inaugurated its Academy of Classical and Folk Arts on its campus. This academy will offer training on fine arts, music and other related performing arts.

This, according to the institute, is in the spirit of NEP 2020 to kindle multidisciplinary teaching and innovation.

In the institute, Hindustani classical vocalist Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty will head the ‘100 ragas’ initiative of the academy. The institute has said that it aims to formulate deep structures of Indian ragas by forging creative arts with cognitive sciences.

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Way forward

Time is running out for the engineering institutes, especially IITs, to expand into multidisciplinary streams of education. However, as new academic programmes and a larger number of students get added to these IITs, it will be crucial that the institutes get additional funding for hiring new faculty and expanding classroom infrastructure, real estate.

In Budget 2020, an amount of Rs 7,332 crore was allocated for the 23 IITs. This was an 11.8 percent YoY increase compared to Rs 6,559.95 crore of FY20 revised estimate. However, industry officials said that each IITs would require at least Rs 500 crore additionally to have fully functional multidisciplinary schools of education.

Whether these funds come from the government or from the alumni network will be closely watched by the other institutes.

Courtesy: Money Control

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