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IIEST no to state plea, sticks to 5yr-course plan

The Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST), Shibpur, has turned down the state government’s request to defer its switch to five-year, dual-degree courses till 2015 and keep offering the four-year BTech programme this year.

The state government had on May 9 asked the institute to put on hold its decision to introduce the integrated BTech-MTech programmes since the advertisement for the state joint entrance exams (JEE) late last year had said the Bengal Engineering and Science University (Besu), which was yet to be upgraded to IIEST, would offer the four-year BTech course.

Higher education secretary Vivek Kumar had written to the first director of IIEST, Ajoy Kumar Ray, requesting him to defer the switch.

The IIEST had called an emergency meeting of its executive council late last week, where it was decided that the integrated dual-degree courses would be introduced as scheduled in keeping with the wishes of the human resource development ministry.

“Following the state government’s appeal, we consulted the HRD ministry. The ministry asked us to go ahead with the introduction of the dual degree from this year. Since the IIEST comes under the HRD ministry, we have to follow what it says,” Ray told Metro over the phone from Delhi.

The IIEST had early last week pointed out to the higher education department that the IIEST act makes it mandatory for the institute to offer only five-year integrated dual-degree programmes.

As an IIEST, the Shibpur institute is supposed to get Rs 593 crore annually from the Centre. “We don’t want to lose the money by deferring the launch of the five-year courses,” an IIEST official said.

The institute turned down another request from the higher education department, too — to admit students through lateral entry in the second year. “Central educational institutions like the IIEST cannot admit students through lateral entry,” an official said.

The government’s request to introduce a fee-waiver scheme for students from economically weaker sections has been considered, Ray said. “The ministry has verbally told us that we could introduce the scheme only for this year.”

The IIEST had earlier said its statute did not have a provision for such a scheme.

The government had requested the IIEST to introduce the scheme as the tuition fee at the institute would be Rs 35,000 each semester, much higher than what the erstwhile Besu used to charge — Rs 7,200.

“We have written to the ministry to offer scholarship from next year,” said an IIEST official.

In a letter written in mid-May by higher education secretary Kumar, the department had asked the IIEST to set aside half the seats for students from the state from the 2015-16 academic year.

The Left Front government, while giving its nod for Besu’s upgrade in 2007, had slapped a condition for the reservation aimed at protecting the interests of “home students”.

“At the executive council meeting we resolved that the ministry would be requested to make a provision for setting aside seats from next year,” said an IIEST official.

The board of governors, the proposed highest-decision making body of the IIEST, would take up the issue on seat reservation, said Roy.