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Centre misses IIT target, classes put off

New Delhi, July 5: The new IITs opening this year will have a delayed start to their first academic session because the government has failed to deliver after scrambling to announce the institutes’ conception.

Teachers have not yet been hired, nor have call letters gone out to the students. The reason is, the Centre is still to register the new institutes, which means they cannot yet be formally recognised, government and IIT officials said.

Any delay in an academic session is hard to make up in the tight IIT calendar, which has three sets of exams every semester, the officials said.

The existing IITs that are handholding the new ones as “mentors” asked the Centre to postpone the launch of these institutes at a meeting yesterday. The government has agreed.

The three new institutes in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Gujarat — to be mentored by the IITs in Chennai, Guwahati and Mumbai respectively — will now open in August, or even later, instead of this month. They had earlier been scheduled to start classes at the same time as their mentor institutes in July.

Even when they open, these three will start classes on temporary campuses near their state capitals, using rented infrastructure, the sources said. “It’s impossible to start our own academic session and the classes at the new institutes at the same time,” an IIT director said.

“Since no faculty has been hired for them, our teachers would then have to go and teach at the new venues. The new IITs can only start once we have hired their faculty.”

The decision came at a meeting between the directors of the seven existing IITs and the human resource development (HRD) ministry in Delhi yesterday, the sources said. The directors asked the ministry to speed up the paperwork for the establishment of the new institutes.

“They don’t have even their own insignia or letter pad, and we are expected to start classes! Till they are registered, we can’t even hire teachers or issue call letters to the students,” another director said.

The ministry may approach the registrar of societies next week, sources said.

“We will try and register the institutes as soon as possible,” a senior ministry official said, admitting that bureaucratic lethargy was at fault.

Although registration will allow the new IITs to hold classes, the Centre needs to amend the IIT Act to formally recognise the degrees they would offer. A cabinet note seeking the amendment has been circulated among the ministries.

Classes for the students admitted to the three other new IITs — in Punjab, Orissa and Rajasthan — may also be delayed. Their classes are to be held at their mentor institutes in Delhi, Kharagpur and Kanpur this year.

“Our faculty members’ workload will increase,” a senior IIT Kharagpur official said, adding that no formal decision had yet been taken to delay the classes for the Orissa institute’s students.

Plans to launch an IIT in Himachal Pradesh this year were aborted after IIT Roorkee, its mentor, threw up its hands.

A delayed academic session can later hurt students’ placement chances, IIT sources said. “If even a few days’ delay spills over into the placement season, the students will suffer because of the shorter time within which recruitment must be made,” an IIT director said.

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