The Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bangalore is encouraging doctoral students from reserved groups with a fellowship programme that presents a unique solution to all central educational institutions that are struggling to hire the full quota of faculty members from these sections.
The available pool of eligible candidates from Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) armed with PhDs for faculty positions is low in India.
Central educational institutions, especially the Indian Institutes of Management, need more candidates with PhDs as well as doctoral candidates from reserved categories to meet the quota requirements mandated by the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Act, 2019.
PhD is a minimum eligibility requirement to be a faculty member at a central educational institution, says IIM Bangalore director Rishikesha T Krishnan. “Only if more candidates from reserved categories have PhDs will they be eligible for faculty jobs.
Today, when we look for such potential candidates, we find that the pool is small in some areas and disciplines. Not enough people from these sections join PhD programmes.”
To address this, IIM Bangalore launched the NS Ramaswamy (NSR) pre-doctoral programme in 2018. It offers a one-year fellowship to candidates, mentoring and coaching them to enroll in PhDs. “We are trying to whet their appetite for PhDs, and the NSR programme is designed to do that,” Krishnan told Business Standard.
As part of the fellowship, the B-school helps candidates improve their communication skills, teaches research methodology, encourages them to attend doctoral-level courses and mentors them in doing research.
IIM Bangalore charges no fees from the candidates, who also receive stipends during the fellowship. The candidates can apply for the fellow programme in management (FPM) at IIM Bangalore or other IIMs and vie for seats with other aspirants.
So far, 22 fellows have enrolled in the NSR programme. One of them has gone on to pursue a PhD at Indian Institute of Technology Madras, while the rest are applying for doctoral programmes in India and abroad.
“We are also reviewing the programme to make it better. Ultimately, in the long run we would like to see a good number of candidates from reserved categories to follow it up with admissions in PhD courses and become potential faculty members. But it will take some years before we see tangible results,” said Krishnan.
IIM Bangalore has set a benchmark on the lines of top B-schools globally by incorporating the tenure system for teaching positions. Under the system, typically followed by B-schools in the US and Europe, a faculty member has to demonstrate outstanding research and teaching skills in the first six years by meeting some publication and teaching feedback metrics.
If they meet the metrics, they are given tenures and made permanent. In India, new faculty members generally face two years of probation — a relatively short duration for assessing research capabilities — before becoming permanent employees.
Since IIMs were more or less exempt from quota requirements in teaching positions until 2019, the older premier B-schools are finding it harder to meet the same amid lack of historical data.
"When you look at the current data that show only six faculty members in reserved categories across 109, it is misleading. Four faculty members in the SC/ST category are known because they were hired in the last couple of years,” said Krishnan on IIM Bangalore, adding that earlier there was no category-wise data on teachers. “Now, of course, as part of the norms we are asking everybody to provide their background data during recruitment,” he said.
The institute is confident of having met the quota norms post-2019. It will be hiring 10 faculty members in 2021-22. “Going forward, whatever faculty positions we fill we expect to do so consistently with the quota requirements,” said Krishnan.
The four SC/ST faculty members are among 13 recent appointments. Krishnan said the B-school is making conscious efforts in its advertisements and outreach including seeking out good candidates from other institutes.
IIM Bangalore has also fared well in diversity and inclusion. It has been focusing on the differently abled by making the campus completely accessible to such students. It also proactively converts study material into machine-readable form for visually impaired students.