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BITS Pilani has big plans, with large batch sizes

Aims to be among the top research-driven institutes in Asia by 2020 invest Rs 1,000 cr

Kalpana Pathak  |  Mumbai 

To be among the top research-driven institutions in Asia by 2020, Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani, plans to invest Rs 1,000 crore to increase the batch size across its bachelors and Masters & PhD programmes by 50 per cent and 400 per cent, respectively, over the next seven years across its campuses at Pilani, Goa and Hyderabad.

This means the class size at its Goa and Hyderabad campuses will go up from 600 students to 900. At Pilani campus the class size will go up from the present 800 students to 900. The strength of its batch sizes for Masters and PhD will be up from 100 to 500.

“The logic is, in addition to being a good teaching institute, we also want to become a research institute. Thus, the focus is more towards PhD,” said K E Raman, director, BITS Pilani, K K Birla campus, Goa. Raman added the institutes would take time to scale up, as they need to hire faculty.

“We have a good number of science faculty. But getting engineering faculty is a little difficult. That is one of the reasons why we would take time to expand,” said Raman.

BITS, like its peers, the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), is working to transform itself into a research-led university.

In fact, the Council of IITs this week, with a view to increase the number of PhDs from 3,000 at present to 10,000 by 2020, approved the recommendation of the Empowered Task Force headed by Anil Kakodkar for “strengthening the PhD programme at the IITs”.

A PhD programme for persons working in industry and teachers in engineering colleges will be introduced in all IITs, wherein the course requirement would be fulfilled through courses to be delivered remotely, using the National Knowledge Network (NKN).

The IITs have also relaxed conditions for enrolment into PhD programmes. Admission would be given without a Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) score to students with a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of more than 7.0 at the end of the third year, but a GATE score would be required for a scholarship.

However, students from a Centrally Financed Technical Institutions (CFTIs) with a CGPA of more than 7.0 would be eligible for PhD programmes and also assistantship/fellowships without requirement of GATE scores. All others will have to appear for GATE to get into MTech and PhD programmes in the IITs.

To strengthen its research and development unit, BITS has also tied up with University of Southern California. It is also looking at tying up with University of California, Berkeley, and the University of San Diego. This academic year, it plans to sponsor around 12 faculty members to travel to research universities.

Today, BITS, along with BITSAA, its global alumni association, launched a first of its kind multi-million dollar cross-campus technology initiative named BITSConnect 2.0.

Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chancellor, BITS Pilani, said, “The launch of BITSConnect 2.0 from its three campuses in India signals a significant step forward. This system provides avenues for research collaboration and knowledge sharing among BITS’ faculty and students, and for face-to-face communication between members of BITS’ leadership.”

This will enable the institute to offer at least 14 specialised electives to 1,000s of students across its campuses by professors working from any of its campuses. Besides, Academicians from across the world will be able to collaborate with and mentor research projects in BITS via this technology initiative.

First Published: Thu, January 10 2013. 00:05 IST