The issue of faculty salaries caused a lot of heartburn after the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) raised a pay hike demand with the HRD ministry. While the issue has been settled with the premier technology institutes, their management institutes chose not to pursue the matter. In an interview with Pradipta Mukherjee, IIM Calcutta director Shekhar Choudhuri says the institute is devising a model to evaluate Ã¢Â€Â˜exceptionsÃ¢Â€Â™ Ã¢Â€Â” as suggested by Union HRD minister Kapil Sabil. Edited excerpts:
Given the current pay structure provided by the HRD ministry, how does IIM Calcutta measure the performance of professors and implement pay hikes?
Currently, faculty promotions are based on the quality of research activities, training in classrooms, number of publications, and other such parameters. However, by 2012, we will have in place a complete system to evaluate Ã¢Â€Â˜exceptionsÃ¢Â€Â™ and judge Ã¢Â€Â˜exceptional qualitiesÃ¢Â€Â™ of faculty members who are eligible for promotions. We have already started working on the evaluation process.
HRD minister Kapil Sibal says a lot of the new norms are flexible. How do you understand the Ã¢Â€Â˜flexibilityÃ¢Â€Â™ word?
For the present, we will stick to the written indications, which includes that pay hikes should be given to only 40 per cent of the professors.
So how do you manage to motivate the other faculty members?
There are many ways to do so. For instance, one of our focus areas is increasing the faculty strength. We add five new faculty members every quarter. In the last 1.5 years, we have recruited 28 new faculty members. This move eases the pressure on the remaining teaching staff. We have also changed the research funding policy for the faculty. Now faculty members can get institute funds of up to Rs 10 lakh to undertake research work. We recently announced a faculty development allowance of Rs 50,000 too. This will help the faculty to purchase software or subscribe to any resources they would want to. For research dissemination, the faculty can attend international conferences up to three times in three years.
And what about student researchers?
For students, we have increased the stipend for our PhD programme by 100 per cent, in order to attract more quality researchers to the institute. The new stipend policy will provide Rs 20,000-24,000 per month and a Rs 20,000 annual contingency grant. The students are also provided a one-time grant for field study, a laptop grant and a fully-supported international conference attendance anywhere in the world. We are also making provisions for students to attend more international conferences. All research students should be able to attend one international conference during their term at IIM-C. . So, earlier our students used to attend only one international conference through his or her stay at IIM Calcutta. But now we are creating possibilities for each student to attend three international conferences during his or her period of study, which is usually five years.
How is the placements scenario panning out for the graduating batch of 2010?
This yearÃ¢Â€Â™s placements scene looks brighter than last year. Pre-placement offers are already pouring in and students should get more number of offers to pick and choose from this year compared to last.
What progress have you made with regard to foreign university collaborations?
We are looking at a few joint research papers to boost collaboration as well as improve the overall quality of research. Currently, we are carrying out joint faculty research with the MIT, US. Some of our faculty members are also into joint research with the Harvard Business School. Also, we are looking at increasing our international collaborations. We have 50 collaborations with foreign universities. More foreign collaboration is important for student exchange programmes because at IIM Calcutta, the student intake is increasing and each foreign partner institute takes only two-three students. So, this year, we have 408 students, next year we would have 460 students. We are exploring partnerships in countries where we do not have any collaboration yet. For instance, we are looking at partnerships with universities in China and Australia.
Is your campus remodeling plan on course?
Yes, we are committed to the Rs 200 crore campus expansion. The full remodeling will be completed by 2011, including large and specially-designed auditoriums and classrooms.