Mining courses in Tanzania, energy systems in Nepal — IITs see interest in offshore campuses

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New Delhi: The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) could soon have campuses in Nepal, Tanzania, Saudi Arabia and other countries.

IIT Madras and IIT Delhi have both independently confirmed to ThePrint that they have seen interest in their programmes from other countries and are awaiting a nod from the Ministry of Education (MoE) to go ahead with their plans to open offshore campuses.

While IIT Delhi plans to have a campus in Saudi Arabia, IIT Madras is in talks with Nepal, Tanzania and other countries.

An IIT Madras spokesperson told ThePrint that there is demand for mining-related courses in African nations, and courses on energy systems in Nepal. “Courses in data sciences are in demand everywhere,” the spokesperson said.

“IIT Madras is in discussion with multiple countries, including Tanzania and some other African countries to establish offshore campuses. Some of the models and proposals under discussion include country-specific courses which may be of local relevance,” added the spokesperson.

“The institute will be arriving at different models based on feasibility and employment potential in the host countries,” he added.

A senior IIT Delhi official told ThePrint that the institute has submitted its interest to the MoE for opening a campus in Saudi Arabia and is waiting for approval. “There has been interest in the undergraduate (UG) courses that we have to offer. Which is why, apart from offering our flagship UG programmes, we will also be looking at offering a combination of our UG and postgraduate (PG) programmes,” the official said.

Offshore campuses are part of the central government’s plan to ‘internationalise’ education as discussed in the new National Education Policy (NEP) of India 2020. Earlier this year, the MoE set up a 16-member committee to explore possibilities for Indian universities to set up foreign campuses.

The panel, consisting of directors of IITs, submitted its report to the ministry in March this year and, on the basis of the report, the MoE circulated a concept note in July among IITs and other institutions.


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Areas of interest

According to sources in the ministry, the concept note works as a guide for the institutes to lay out their plans. Among the points mentioned in the report are the areas of interest institutes can explore while opening an offshore campus — computer science, data and artificial intelligence, machine learning, metallurgy and mining, among others.

Nearly 20 institutes, the sources say, have shown interest in opening campuses abroad with IIT Delhi and IIT Madras already seeing interest from other countries.

According to the report, the institutes can either approach countries on their own or respond to interest from their side.

Among non-IITs, Delhi University (DU) is one of the central universities interested in opening an offshore campus. As of last year, the university was exploring opening campuses in Singapore, Dubai and Mauritius. The plan, however, is on the backburner for now.

DU Vice-Chancellor Yogesh Singh told ThePrint in December that the university has put its offshore campus plans on hold for a while, citing financial reasons.

Inputs from Soniya Agrawal

(Edited by Zinnia Ray Chaudhuri)


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