I wish to share with you details about BITS’ plans to grow the academic programmes it offers at its three campuses in India, together with the resulting growth in number of students in BITS. This growth comes soon after BITS opened its three new campuses in Dubai (in 2000), Goa (in 2004) and Hyderabad (in 2008), a move that resulted in a three-fold growth in student strength from 3,500 in 1999 in Pilani to 10,500 across its four campuses in 2010.
Before doing so, I wish to share with you the many initiatives that we have taken in the last year or two as part of the project "Vision 2020, Mission 2012” we launched in 2009 with a view to continually strive for excellence in teaching and research. Specifically, these were aimed at revamping our products (read curricula), processes and infrastructure as also empowering our faculty so they may grow professionally. These include:
Implementing an ERP system to ensure efficient and cost-effective storage and management of information concerning academic and administrative functions across all four campuses – a near-first for India,
Undertaking a comprehensive engagement survey covering faculty, students and staff in our four campuses and on issues relating to curricula, life on campus, research, etc. – truly a first for India,
Benchmarking and re-designing all undergraduate and post-graduate programmes, while increasing the number of discipline-specific and humanities courses and emphasizing hands-on, projects-based learning,
(Completely) re-structuring the processes for selecting faculty, while bringing in external experts to help select research-focused faculty, and
Encouraging, facilitating and providing incentives to faculty to seek and execute sponsored R&D projects, including the use of significant portion of overheads to help faculty grow professionally.
All these initiatives are well on their way to implementation.
More recently, on Oct 31, 2011 Chancellor Mr. Kumar Mangalam Birla has accorded in-principle approval to the direction and extent of growth in academic programmes at our campuses in Pilani, Goa and Hyderabad. (The growth plans for Dubai campus are still under discussion). Currently, the total number of students in these campuses is nearly 9,700. We expect this to grow to nearly 12,000 by 2015, and to little less than 15,000 by 2020. In terms of growth rate this constitutes a modest cumulative growth of over 4.5% per annum. However, the growth in higher degree (or post-graduate) programmes and in doctoral programmes is expected to be very significant. In particular, we are planning for 140% growth in higher-degree programmes and 650% growth in on-campus full-time PhD students by year 2020, while the number of students in the first degree programmes will grow at a modest rate of 27% only. We are convinced this emphasis on post-graduate studies will help BITS transform itself into a research-focused university, a pre-requisite to achieve its stated vision, viz. be listed as one of top three technical institutions in India by 2015, and as one of top 25 technical institutions in Asia.
As many of you are aware, BITS has pioneered the "work-integrated learning programme”, or WILP, since the late 1970s. WILP offers working professionals an opportunity to undergo an educational programme leading to a formal degree from BITS, even as they continue to work on a day-job in industry. BITS has now embarked upon a programme to not only revamp its WILP products and processes, but has also dedicated itself to expand its offerings to a significantly larger number of working professionals. Recent efforts at developing content, using technology-enhanced delivery of courses, and expanding the reach of WILP programmes are now off the ground.
Recognizing that success in growing the above programmes is contingent upon many factors, some of which may be outside our control, we have rededicated ourselves to:
Expand our existing academic programmes as also launch new industry-relevant programmes, particularly at the post-graduate level,
Attract young, motivated and research-focused faculty from within and outside India, as also attract (and incentivize) young graduates to join our PhD programme,
Aggressively seek sponsored research grants from industry or government agencies in India as also from programmes launched under bi-lateral agreements between India and other countries,
Modernize and expand the physical infrastructure at the three campuses -- the investment to be made on modernizing and expanding all academic areas, all housing for students, faculty and staff in Pilani itself will be more than Rs. 400 crores. Similar investments for expanding the infrastructure in Goa and Hyderabad campus are being planned,
Upgrade or build new teaching and research laboratories to cater to the needs for a growing bouquet of academic programmes (both on-campus and WILP), and
Upgrade network technology to facilitate closer collaboration between people across campuses, sharing of faculty, lab, or teaching/learning materials across campuses, and use of technology-enhanced course delivery.
Other than raising finances from varied sources to undertake the above growth, we will engage with all stakeholders, including parents, industry, alumni and the government to ensure that we will have in place the right plans, processes, products and monitors that are necessary to succeed.
I invite all our alumni and well-wishers to support us in this journey in every possible manner, including sharing some of your valuable time and intellect as also with raising funds for specific projects that help BITS succeed.
BITS Pilani, on its part, aims to continue being the premier institute attracting the best talent among faculty, students and staff while maintaining high moral and ethical values. We look to BITSAA to play a big role as part of BITS Vision 2020. I hope that you will continue with many more such admirable projects.
For more information please write to Professor K. E. Raman (firstname.lastname@example.org), Chairman, Alumni Affairs, and Director BITS Pilani K. K. Birla Goa Campus, Zuarinagar, Goa 403 726, or visit http://www.bits-pilani.ac.in