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Thursday , February 20 , 2014
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Parliament passes bill, countdown to Besu upgrade

The upgrade of the Bengal Engineering and Science University (Besu) to an Institute of National Importance is now a formality, with the Rajya Sabha passing the National Institute of Technology, Science Education and Research (Amendment) Bill 2013 on Wednesday.

The bill, which the Lok Sabha had passed on December 18, will be sent for presidential assent.

Sources at the Shibpur university said that even if the upgrade was formalised in a few weeks, launch of more courses would have to wait till 2015.

“Besu will be upgraded once the President gives his consent to the bill and a gazette notification is issued. The upgrade will come into effect on the day the notification is issued,” said Sukhendu Sekhar Ray, a Trinamul Rajya Sabha member from Bengal.

Post-upgrade, the 157-year- old institution, now a state university, will be known as the Indian Institute of Engineering, Science and Technology (IIEST). Like the IITs and NITs, it will be funded by the human resource development ministry.

According to the financial outlay in the bill, the institute will receive Rs 592.2 crore over a period of five years. Of this, Rs 300 crore will be under non-recurring and Rs 292 crore under recurring expenditure. Besu academicians are hoping for a “revision”, considering that the allocation had been suggested when the upgrade bill was tabled in the Lok Sabha in 2010.

“This year we will continue to admit students through the state JEE. From next year, we will admit students through the JEE Mains,” said Besu vice-chancellor Ajoy Kumar Ray.

“The upgrade brings a huge responsibility for us. We will have to initiate a model of higher technical education. This will be a challenge in itself.”

The IIEST will offer an integrated five-year BTech-cum-MTech programme with emphasis on research.

Celebrations erupted on the Shibpur campus once news of the upgrade came in. “We, students, faculty and staff, are very happy that the last step in the upgrade has been completed,” said N.R. Bandopadhyaya, a professor in the School of Material Sciences and Engineering.

The passage of the bill has been far from smooth and was inordinately delayed because of various reasons, including impasse in Parliament.

The original bill had to be amended to include the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs).

The IISERs had been formed and the first batch of students had passed out even before the passage of the National Institute of Technology, Science Education and Research (Amendment) Bill 2013 — or the NITSER Bill.

“The bill has taken an unduly long time to be passed. The long delay happened because the IISER Bill had been pending and needed to be cleared before our bill could be placed in Parliament,” said a Besu official.