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IISER pushes for more seats

The Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Calcutta is set to double its number of postgraduate and doctoral seats in the next two years.

“Our immediate goal is to double the seats for postgraduate students and to strengthen the doctoral programme,” said IISER director R.N. Mukherjee at the second convocation of the institute on Friday.

The Kalyani-based institute offers undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral programmes in basic sciences.

The institute, set up in 2006, has about 270 postgraduate and PhD seats. “Our target is to have 500 postgraduate and PhD students within 2016,” said a senior teacher.

According to Mukherjee, the first requirement would be to build additional hostels to accommodate more students “since the institute is fully residential”. The process has started, he added.

He said the institute was ready to raise its student intake because new infrastructure such as classrooms, research laboratories and facilities for workshops were already in place.

“The process of appointing new faculty from the best institutes in the country is on,” he said.

IISER Calcutta has a five-year integrated BSc and MSc course, a programme where students have to complete a two-year course in five disciplines (physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology and earth sciences), followed by two years of “major” in a discipline of their choice. The final year is devoted to research, making the course unique.

“Research is one of our top priorities and we want to have more students at the postgraduate and doctoral levels to promote high standard research in basic sciences,” director Mukherjee said.

At the postgraduate level, the institute offers a PhD course and an integrated postgraduate-PhD programme. Plans are afoot to double the seats in these two courses.

The central institute’s move is in tune with the Union human resource development ministry’s mandate at the time of its inception that IISER must have a total of 2,000 seats, including 1.000 at the postgraduate and doctoral levels.

“The Centre has not set any deadline (for the 2,000 seats) but we want to achieve the target by 2019,” a senior faculty member said.

Nearly 120 students from the 2014 batch of undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral programmes were awarded degrees on Friday.