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Besu upgrade on cabinet table

The bill to upgrade Bengal Engineering and Science University to an Institute of National Importance (INI) will be placed before the Union cabinet on Thursday.

The upgrade, to be effected through an amendment to the NIT Act, will make Besu the country’s first Indian Institute of Engineering and Science and Technology (IIEST).

Once the cabinet approves the bill, it will be presented in Parliament. After being upgraded to IIEST, Besu will offer a five year integrated BTech plus MTech course with greater emphasis on research.

“The idea (behind the upgrade) is to create an institution geared for research that will create a pool of qualified manpower,” said Besu vice-chancellor Ajay Ray.

Post-upgrade, the 150-year-old institute will admit students through All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE). Half the seats at the university will be reserved for students from Bengal.

The Union cabinet had “in principle” cleared Besu’s upgrade in 2010.

It has been pending since because of delay in passing an amendment to the NIT Act to create Indian Institutes of Science, Education and Research (IISER). Parliament has recently passed the IISER bill, paving the way for Besu’s upgrade.

The NIT Act came into being in 2007 to convert the erstwhile Regional Engineering colleges to NITs and bestow the status of institution of national importance on them.

Besu was among the five institutes in the country selected by Anandakrishnan Committee, appointed by the human resource development ministry, for upgrade to Indian Institute of Engineering, Science and Technology.

The other four institutes were Benaras Hindu University, Jadavpur University, Osmania University and Zakir Hussain College of Engineering & Technology. “All except Besu later withdrew their candidature. The ministry cleared Besu’s proposal and placed it before the Cabinet,” said an official.

Post-upgrade, the Centre will spend around Rs 592 crore on the university in five years. “Around Rs 300.30 crore will be non-recurring expenditure and Rs 291.90 crore, recurring expenditure,” the official said.

After five years, the institute will get grant-in-aid to meet its expenses, said sources in the ministry.

At present, there are over 50 institutions of national importance, including the 16 IITs, 30 NITs, five IISERs AIIMS, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (Chandigarh) and Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology (Thiruvananthapuram).