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Identity crisis hurdle to IIEST success

Howrah: The Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST) has to get rid of the identity crisis to draw bright students, the institute director said on Sunday.

Parthasarathi Chakrabarti, who took charge last Thursday, stressed the need for IIEST to build its own identity and fight challenges posed by the NITs.

The Shibpur institute is under the NIT council and it admits students based on JEE Main rankings.

"We have to see how we can attract top-notch students. We are battling an identity crisis and we have to get rid of it," Chakrabarti, an electronics engineering professor at IIT (BHU), said. "The institute has been clubbed with the 31 NITs. Creating an identity within that club is a big challenge."

Chakrabarti has been the director of Motilal Nehru National Institute of Technology, Allahabad, in the past.

The institute, which initially offered a five-year integrated dual degree course - BTech plus MTech - when it started, has failed to attract bright students.

Data available with the Joint Seat Allocation Authority, the central agency that had allotted NIT seats in 2015 showed NIT Durgapur, the only one in Bengal, got better ranked students for most its BTech courses.

The situation was almost similar in 2016.

Last year, a study revealed that IIEST had drawn better students in all courses compared with previous years. Still, it lagged behind most of the NITs.

Former director Ajoy Kumar Ray attributed the marginal increase to the institute's decision to revert to the four-year course.

In the HRD ministry's National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), the institute slid to 30 this year in the engineering category from last year's 17.

Director Chakrabarti said IIEST would have to improve its national rank. The institute is planning incentives for students so that they choose IIEST over NITs.

"The incentives are being planned for students who can excel in innovative ventures such as apps. They could be in the form of scholarships or a cut in course fees," he said.

He stressed the need for IIEST to develop a "national character" by coming out of the shadow of a state university (Besu). "We have a locational advantage as it is close to Calcutta, but we are yet to develop a national character."

Chakrabarti said he would speak to the ministry to reconstitute the board of governors - the institute's highest decision-making body. The board was dissolved last December as the tenure of the chairman and several members had expired. "Like the NITs we have to sign a MoU with the HRD ministry to get funds in this academic year. The board has to approve the contents of the MoU."

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