NSIT has been a witness to several massive changes over the past few months, and plenty more are in the pipeline. In the midst of this whirlwind of events, The Alliance caught up with the man of the moment, Prof Yogesh Singh, Director, NSIT, for an exclusive interview.
Q. Sir, what is your vision for NSIT for the next ten to fifteen years?
NSIT is a highly prestigious institute which has built its reputation over the years, with the hard work and contribution of several brilliant students and people who have worked tirelessly. Currently, it is a pioneer in undergraduate studies, but has a long way to go, in terms of research facilities and postgraduate studies. Even this standing cannot be sustained for long, amidst stiff competition from global universities. If NSIT is to feature amongst the likes of Harvard, Yale and MIT, it must upgrade its research facilities and follow the natural course of growth to transform itself into a teaching and research university.
Q. Why do you think it is necessary for NSIT to transform into NSUT?
As per the recommendations of National Knowledge Commission (NKC), 2009, for the progress of the country and establishment of world-class institutions, we must move towards disaffiliation. The system of affiliation is already outdated in the United States, where each institution is a degree awarding institution. Affiliation often results in a one-size fits all policy, which restricts the growth of individual institutions.
NSIT has reached a saturation point in terms of growth. If we adopt a complacent attitude towards the state of affairs, the development of this establishment will stagnate and we will not be able to keep up with the cut-throat competition of the IITs, NITs etc. The larger goal is to establish NSIT on the world map, which cannot be attained if some drastic reforms are not put in place.
Transformation into a teaching and research university will give us more autonomy to improve the curriculum, infrastructure, teaching and research facilities as a whole, at both, the undergraduate and postgraduate level. Our duty, as a mature society, is to leave our future generations a better learning environment and infrastructure, for holistic development. Adopting a dynamic and receptive approach towards change is the need of the hour. Students of NSIT should also adopt a magnanimous attitude towards these changes, keeping in mind the welfare of their juniors.
The students stand to benefit the most from this change. The existing students will be awarded degrees of Delhi University, as per the commitment of the institution. They will also benefit from the infrastructural and curricular changes which are to be implemented. The future aspirants will make an informed choice about NSUT, taking into account the benefits of this organization.
In the long run, hopefully, NSUT will cater to several thousands of students and provide excellent educational and research amenities to students from Delhi and elsewhere, at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. At present, only two steps have been put in place in this transformation process, the approval from the Cabinet and from the Vidhan Sabha.
Q. Please enlighten us about the infrastructural and curricular changes on the cards.
This year, we plan to increase the intake by a hundred students. For the incoming batch, we have added sixty seats under a newly-introduced branch of Mechanical Engineering. Further, twenty additional seats will be introduced in the Biotechnology division. This year, NSIT has got approval for adding ten seats each in the Electronics and Communication and Computer Engineering branches, under the DASA scheme, enabling us to give admission to foreign and NRI students. In order to make NSIT a globally renowned establishment, a 10-15% of foreign element in the student spectrum is imperative.
A choice-based credit system will also be introduced soon, in which 50% of the credits will be allocated for core engineering disciplines, 30% for other elective disciplines such as animation, filmmaking, electronics etc, depending upon the interests of the student, and the remaining 20% for co-curricular activities such as sports, music, art and dance. We even plan to expand this to include credits obtained from online courses approved by various national and international universities. The aim is to promote holistic development of our students and provide them with multiple options, flexibility and exposure.
In order to facilitate a student participative management, introduction of student intern schemes in various departments of the administration, for some remuneration, is also a proposal. Making the campus Wi-Fi enabled, building four air-conditioned classrooms, a business incubator, renovating GH-2 and increasing the number of seats in the Girls Hostels, developing an online portal which caters to the needs of the students by linking the services of various job sites, government job sites, international scholarships, government schemes and academic results, revamping the institute’s website are also some other projects, which are underway. The complete automation of processes in the administration is also one of the projects we are undertaking, in consonance with the nationwide vision of smart cities.
Q. Sir, do you think that the discontinuation of our affiliation with the Delhi University affects our reputation in any way?
NSIT’s repute is not merely because of its affiliation with the Delhi University. It is an added advantage to the many factors which contribute towards making this institution as prestigious as it is. Students come to NSIT because of the excellent academic standards, diverse, vibrant and talented student milieu, an atmosphere which promotes growth of the student and of course, undeniably, placements.
In the interim period during which NSUT establishes itself as a brand, hopefully one bigger than the brand of the Delhi University itself someday, our students should not worry about the dilution of the brand in any way. I think this transformation will not affect the future prospects of students at all. NSUT will continue to attract the brightest minds in the country, sans the Delhi University degree, for the facilities it will offer and the excellence and rigor that NSIT symbolizes.
Q. Several students have voiced the concern that changing the name from NSIT to NSUT will lead to an estrangement from the brand name of NSIT. What are your views on that?
NSIT has had a change in its name in the past too.. The name change, in this case, is merely of a single word and the up gradation, from the word ‘institution’ to the word ‘university’, is clearly visible. In my opinion, this change will not unfavorably affect the future prospects of students in any manner. The process of transformation of an institution to a university is common knowledge in the entire world. There is no question of the dilution of the brand enshrined by this establishment. Whatever its name, this establishment should be synonymous to excellent learning and research facilities.
Q. In your opinion, will the drastic increase in intake of students lead to the dilution of academic standards? Will this negatively impact the placement percentage, since the number of recruiters remains more or less constant?
The increase in intake of students will not be a drastic process. Instead, it will take place gradually, in synergy with the creation of facilities for those students. We aim to increase our intake to twelve thousand students, in multiple phases, over ten years. This increase in intake will ultimately benefit the students of Delhi, catering to the thousands of engineering aspirants who put in hours of toil in order to get admission into a prestigious engineering college.
Increasing the number of students will increase the competition for placements within the college. However, if these very students had not been a part of the establishment, they would have served as external competition. The number of companies, too, is not an absolute constant. Focused and organized effort is required in this sphere.
Q. What steps will be taken to improve the teaching and research facilities, after gaining autonomy?
Teaching and research facilities will automatically improve as a curriculum revision and implementation of the choice-based credit system takes place. This will bridge the compatibility gap between NSIT and other foreign universities. The recruitment of new faculty will consequently follow the increase in the number of students. Proposals of getting contractual faculty from foreign universities are also being made. By signing MOUs with foreign universities, we hope to implement joint research and a two-way system of credit transfer, by means of exchange programs.
Q. What will be the powers of the newly-formed Student Council, in the light of the recent events?
A constitution for the Student Council is to be drafted, in order to define its powers. I also wish to conduct periodic, perhaps monthly, meetings with the members of the Student Council, to resolve the issues in partnership with them.
Q. Any words of advice or motivation for the students?
I advise students to pursue any projects they undertake with undivided attention and unmatched passion, and fully enjoy their work. If this attitude towards work is adopted, then hard work manifest itself as success. If it does not, it is an indicator of a lack of commitment and passion.
Regarding the issue of conversion of NSIT to a university, existing students need not worry at all about the dilution of the brand name associated with the institution or the estrangement of the degree of Delhi University. Our approach is completely student-oriented and all changes are being brought about with the best interests of the students at heart. Future prospects of the students, in terms of application to foreign universities, shall not be hampered in any way. Both in the short term as well as in the long run, students stand to benefit the most from such reforms and transformations.
(Special Thanks to Ayush Maiti and Divye Girotra)