New Delhi: Facing a massive shortage of well-qualified teachers, the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) have mooted a proposal for hiring foreign nationals as permanent faculty members.
With one-third teaching positions lying vacant, the proposal as a solution to meet the unprecedented staff crunch is expected to be deliberated at the next IIT council meeting here on Friday, IIT officials said today.
The move, if accepted, would enable the premier engineering and technology institutes to appoint foreign teachers on permanent positions, up to 10 percent of the faculty strength.
In 2007, the IITs had been granted permission to hire foreign nationals as faculty members, but only for a maximum period of 5 years on contract basis.
IIT-Kharagpur leads the pack with 299 vacancies followed by IIT-Bombay with 222, IIT-Roorkee with 194, IIT-Madras with 138 and IIT-Delhi with 78. Others are not far behind either.
There are 69 vacancies in IIT-Kanpur, 65 in IIT-Guwahati and 48 in IIT-Ropad. In fact, the situation is the same in all the 15 IITs in the country.
IITs have contended that the presence of foreign faculty on their campuses would expose graduating students to globally distinguished professors besides lending a true international flavour in the campuses and reducing brain drain.
Appointment of foreign faculty could also give a boost to IITs` plan to enroll foreign students for the post-graduate programme. IITs have already requested the Human Resources Development (HRD) Ministry to enroll foreign students to the extent of 25 percent of the total student strength.
"IITs are now being increasingly recognized internationally as attractive destination for students. This perceived superiority needs to be leveraged to the fullest extent as expeditiously as possibly," the officials said.
They said that US varsities have benefited by attracting faculty from across the globe and India cannot afford to lose the chance to attract the best talent in teaching and research.
The HRD Ministry had recently permitted IITs to hire Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) as permanent faculty after an initial vetting process.
The IIT council meeting could also finalise plans to set up `centre of studies` devoted to a foreign country with a view to develop expertise on countries of strategic importance.
Each IIT, the officials said, could concentrate on a particular country. As in the US, such centers will be available for advising the Government especially in terms of strategic negotiations.
The recommendations of the Prof Acharya Committee on streamlining and rationalising JEE examinations and the prospects of a two-tier examination process will also be discussed at the meeting.