New Delhi, Sept. 27: The Centre is setting up a committee of experts to prepare for a three-fold increase in student intake at the IIMs without giving them more land.
“The committee’s composition is yet to be decided. It will study the feasibility and requirements for the increase so that the elite institutions are in no way hurt,” a senior official told The Telegraph.
The human resource development ministry’s move comes after the Prime Minister suggested at a recent Planning Commission meeting that seats on existing Indian Institute of Management and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) campuses be increased three-fold, officials said.
This is in addition to seven new IIMs that the Planning Commission has cleared under the 11th Five-Year Plan.
But such a big jump in student population without an increase in the land allotted could “ruin” the IIMs, some officials warned.
“People who make such proposals are often themselves hardly associated with education at the highest levels,” IIM Calcutta dean Anindya Sen said.
Ministry sources said if the three-fold expansion was found “unfeasible” at a “particular IIM”, the institute might be let off with a “more gentle” increase in seats.
“The committee will determine the optimal expansion possible for each of the six IIMs,” a source said.
Senior IIM administrators — cutting across the six institutes — expressed concern that the move may be used by the Centre as a bargaining tool to make them “toe its line”.
The Ahmedabad institute, regularly ranked the best of India’s B-schools, already faces a space crunch and many students have to be provided accommodation outside the campus, officials said.
The 67-acre campus will be expanded by 39 acres, but will still be among the smallest (see chart).
The seat-increase proposal comes months after the heated debate over OBC reservations at the premier institutes — some IIMs had asked for an increase in campus area to accommodate a 54 per cent jump in seats.
“We had asked for an additional 40 acres, over and above the 106 acres that are already cleared. That proposal, essential to meet the increase in students due to the quota, hasn’t been cleared by the Centre. If we couldn’t accommodate a 54 per cent rise on campus, how can we possibly take a 200 per cent increase'” a senior IIM-A official asked.
A senior IIM Bangalore official cited the recent quota debate — in which some of the IIM directors stood against HRD minister Arjun Singh — as an example of a situation where the B-schools may in the future face pressure to accept the Centre’s diktat.
“If the Centre decides the expansion each IIM is capable of, it automatically has a tool with which it can needle us when we try and oppose them,” he said.
The committee, sources said, will also work on a long-stated goal of the ministry — to prepare an act of Parliament for the IIMs on the lines of the Indian Institutes of Technology Act, which will raise the “value” of the degrees handed out by the B-schools.
The IIMs now hand out diplomas at the end of a two-year course while the IIT graduates get a degree.