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Edu minister in talks with institutes

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Warangal — Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani chaired a meeting of the Council of National Institute of Technology, Science Education and Research held at National Institute of in Warangal today. The council is an apex policy making body for 31 National Institutes of Technology (NITs), 5 Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) and Indian Institute of Engineering, Science and Technology (IIEST), Shibpur.

In her opening remarks, the minister emphasised that each of the institutions should be an island of excellence in innovation, design and research in specific areas, but these islands should have synergised strategy to collaborate and grow together. Highlighting the achievements of the council, Irani apprised the gathering of the fact that common counselling was implemented for NITs, IITs, IIITs, IIEST and other Government-Funded Institutes (GFTIs) for the admissions in above institutions.

She further mentioned that common counselling not only reduced on students and parents, but also minimised the number of vacant seats. Less than 2% seats remained vacant after 5 rounds of counselling, leading to an all-time high number of admissions in these prestigious institutions. She congratulated Central Seat Allocation Board (CSAB) team for the achievement.

The council deliberated on the proposal to have ‘one exam, one rank, one counselling’ for all institutes of national importance, and also on the proposal to do away with 40% weight for the board exam. Since there are other stakeholders who need to be consulted, it was decided to constitute a core committee examine and recommend a suitable course of action.

The council adopted a funding mechanism under which government would appreciably enhance investments in capital assets, labs, equipment and research, leaving the bulk of running expenses to be recovered through the student’s fee. The increased fee would be met 100% by student loans at zero per cent rate of interest. This will help in building NITs into robust institutions.

The HRD minister expressed her concern that there have been growing incidences of depression among students due to non-performance. Therefore, NITs, IISERs and IIEST should adopt a student-centric approach. She unveiled a slew of measures to support students who need academic help.

A scheme of ‘hand holding’ of students who are weak in studies will be implemented in institutions. A mentor student will be designated to take care of such students. The mentor students will be provided financial incentives, which will be supported by the Ministry of HRD to the NIT concerned.

Each NIT, IISER and IIEST will provide a guarantee of clean hostels, mess, water, and hygienic and wholesome food. This will be incorporated in the mission statement of each institution. Irani also emphasised that students’ grievances be addressed effectively and in a time-bound manner. The current grievance redress system has been found wanting in this respect. She constituted a Student Grievance Redressal (sic) Cell at the council level. This cell will monitor the redressal of grievances and coordinate with Directors of institutions to address them effectively.

A review committee for NIT System was set up by the council. The recommendations regarding improvement of governance, research and e-governance have been accepted by the council and soon implementation of the same would happen to take NITs to next level.

The chairperson also took stock of the progress made by NITs under the flagship programme of Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) Cell (GIAN), Unnat Bharat, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and digital library. She stressed that NITs, IISERS and IIEST should take strong initiatives to gain full benefits of these unique schemes.

In the end, the minister said that performance of the institutions would be monitored critically. The performers will be rewarded while non-performers will be evaluated critically, she said. The council also adopted the suggestion of the minister for awarding the Best NIT/IIEST Award. The modalities thereof will be worked out in the council’s standing committee. Irani hoped that each institution would not only achieve targets and goals set by the council today but also surpass them.

Secretary, Higher Education, Vinaysheel Oberoi, along with senior officers, participated in the meeting along with the chairmen and directors of all NITs and IISERs.

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