September 20, 2010

IITs can undertake medical research

With the IIT Council giving its consent to the institutes to start courses in medicine, IITs can now undertake inter-disciplinary research in the field of medicine, bio-engineering, biotechnology and related subjects. The approval comes even as health ministry has not favoured IITs starting medical courses, suggesting instead that they consider starting PhD programmes, involving collaboration between engineering and medical science.

The council's nod to hiring foreign faculty will also require policy-level changes. Though there are 4,267 vacancies of which only 2,983 have been filled, security clearance is required ahead of hiring of a foreign national at a salary that is on a par with his Indian counterpart. "We will set up a mechanism the with home ministry so that the process can be done without any hiccups," HRD minister Kapil Sibal said.

Interestingly, the ministry's proposal for Innovation Universities says foreign nationals will be hired as faculty for which the Citizenship Act needs to be amended.

Lack of consensus on reforms in the JEE — proposed by the Damodar Acharya committee — led the IIT Council to set up another panel, under T Ramasami, secretary, science and technology, that will submit its report in three months.

On JEE was no consensus on an alternate model for the present system. Though there was agreement that class XII results should be given weightage, the Damodar Acharya panel report, which has suggested normalization of class XII results, did not find enough support. Directors of seven IITs felt that the existing system of test should continue as an add-on examination along with the marks in class XII and aptitude test.

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