BITS-Pilani targets increasing UG intake to 1,040 by 2018
Pilani (Raj): BITS-Pilani in Rajasthan is targeting raising the students' intake for its flagship undergraduate programme to 1,040 in the next two years and is currently carrying out a massive infrastructure upgrade on the sprawling campus to set the ground for it.
"UG courses are our flagship programme and our aim always has been to go for expansion, but is also limited by so many constraints, like infrastructure. But our ultimate aim is to go to 1,040 by 2018," BITS-Pilani Director Ashoke Kumar Sarkar told PTI.
The Pilani campus of the premier institute at present takes 910 students for the undergraduate programme. "Ours is a completely residential university and therefore the first requirement we realised was to upgrade the infrastructure of the campus. So we are giving it a massive overhaul.
"We have already created new classrooms in front of the main administration block which have been built with innovation on a sunken level, by digging out the earth, so that the roof level coincides with the ground level.
"For faculty members, we are building another two blocks. Recreation facility we are also renovating and it should be ready by September," he said.
The famed institution, which owes its roots to a 'Pathshala' started in 1901 by the Birlas, has grown in size and reputation since it came into being in 1964 with G D Birla as BITS-Pilani's Founder Chairman.
At its convocation last month, out of 1,147 students eligible to receive degrees, 822 were from first degrees, 206 dual degrees, 268 higher degrees, and 57 from PhD programmes. Besides, its main campus in Pilani, the famed institution has centres in Goa, Hyderabad and Dubai.
"We were the first to open overseas campus in 2000 (Dubai). And, in 2004, we opened Goa campus followed by Hyderabad in 2008. So, people thought in 2012 we will be having another one. But, we thought of giving it a pause," he said.
"We are now sort of focusing on improving infrastructure on Pilani campus first and then think of further expansion. But that decision is anyway taken by the Birlas," he said.
Sarkar said the BITs-Pilani has also entered into agreements with several universities for research and other academic collaborations.
"We have signed an MoU with Tel Aviv University on research collaboration, faculty exchange, and in November students are going to have a workshop on food security in Pilani," he said.
The director said, besides TAU, BITS-Pilani has also developed a very close relationship with Trinity College, Dublin and Ben-Gurion University in Israel as also with George Mason University in the US. "Our collaboration with the varsity in Israel is on desert development research area and Pilani being a desert area we think this partnership is significant," Sarkar said.
The director, however, said, "BITS has been signing MoUs forever but they are not really working MoUs as such, somebody visiting as part of it....If we look into signed MoUs it may be 100 or close to that, but now we are targeting a few universities and develop a very close relationship."
On campus infrastructure upgrade, he further said, we are renovating faculty housing facilities built 60-70 years ago. Besides, the old mess for Ram and Buddha Hostels has been demolished and a new one is coming up."
"Also, PhD hostels for candidates who are married are coming up as we are targeting more PhD students," he said.
The director said, while for PhD programme, the college is continuously redefining it and reaching the target, but for masters degree programme, only 280 students are enrolled against the target of 350 for want of quality students.
BITS-Pilani Vice Chancellor Souvik Bhattacharyyaa, while describing the institute as capable of standing on its own feet, said, it would appreciate a little more "proactive" help from the government.
"We are not expecting a block grant, but I say it with humility, we need more help from the nation. Maybe in form of a centre of excellence or some fellowships. We have done well in last 10 years and going to do better, but can the government not contribute to this growth, especially in research and development areas," he said.
The Pilani campus in Jhunjhunu district is spread over 320 acres. It also has a Technology Business Incubator (TBI) which was set up almost a decade ago to support budding entrepreneurs on the campus.
It has also set up a Centre for Entrepreneurial Leadership for entrepreneurship development.