Only 40 foreign faculty in IITs; Centre pushes for 20%

IIT foreign faculty

NEW DELHI, OCTOBER 17: Only about 1% of the faculty in the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are foreign nationals as opposed to the 20% stipulated by the HRD ministry. According to statistics published by the HRD ministry, of the total 5400 faculty members across the 23 IITs, only 40 are foreign nationals.

The centre had considered employing foreign faculty to enhance the quality of education at the IITs. As such the target is to have at least 20% foreign faculty in the institutes. For this, MHRD is known to hold various promotional activities like interactions and roadshows at foreign universities.

Bureaucracy, limited contract period main hurdles 

Bureaucracy is one of the reasons behind the lack of interest among foreign faculty to join the institutes. According to an HRD official, it takes at least six to eight months for a teacher to join the institute after being made an offer. This is because the teacher has to first get a clearance from the from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the external affairs ministry.

The other major reason is the limited contract period. Currently, foreign faculty are only offered 5-year contracts. They are not even allowed to participate in government research as those projects are seen to be important for India’s  security. “This clause is a little problematic because faculty members face uncertainty when they are bound by such time limits. They do not enjoy the kind of academic freedom that regular faculty does,” Dean of faculty at IIT-Delhi, Sudipto Mukherjee has been quoted as saying to a national daily.

Fresh trouble for Institutes of Eminence

However, the fact remains that India premier technology schools are in need of foreign faculty. In fact, some of the institutes like IIT Bombay have been left in a lurch as being declared Institutes of Eminence, they have to immediately recruit 30 per cent foreign faculty.

As per Mukherjee, the institute is struggling to meet the 30 per cent criteria as the norms are too strict to be bypassed. Currently, there are just 9 foreign faculty members at the institute. IIT Delhi has 3.

The international faculty who finally join do not have a good experience here either, thanks to the bureaucratic procedures.

“People confused me about the documents — someone said I would need an Aadhaar card and PAN card, someone said I would not. Then, offices would make me come again and again for documents that they needed,” said Dr Jun Bey Seo, a teacher who is from South Korea and teaches at IIT Delhi.