New Delhi: The Prime Minister Research Fellowship (PMRF) scheme worth Rs 1,800 crore is all set to be announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday.
PMRF is designed to correct the faculty deficit in the country’s premier institutes of technology – Indian Institute of Technology – to promote research and encourage undergraduate students in taking up PhDs.
Around 1000 students will be selected every year for the fellowship for three years. The selected scholars will be granted Rs 75, 000 per month for five years.
The ministry of Human Resource Development will grant scholarship to 3,000 students in total. It will be applicable to the students of IIT, NIT, IISc and IIIT (students from the other institutes can apply for the fellowship but will have to pursue research in IITs only). The applicants should ideally score high in their programs or courses (above 8 CGPA), have a strong academic background and should be from the above mentioned institutes.
A source in the ministry said, “The process of selecting the students in a year will be rigorous. It is going to focus on encouraging the best brains to take up research. They will be deployed on areas of frontiers of science and technology – which is to have innovative and cutting edge research.”
The IIT fraternity is perturbed by the fact that hardly 5% students take up research and those who take up jobs do so out of their core sectors.
The step comes after the students of IIT students stopped going abroad for pursuing higher education in large numbers as compared to trend of last few decades. They now stay back and around 10% to 15% go abroad and that too preferably for jobs rather than higher education. “So what will happen, we need to find faculty for them and research areas,” said a source from IIT Delhi.
The source in IIT Delhi added, “The idea was proposed some time back – apart from encouraging the undergraduate students in taking up research, the fellowship will also address the problem of faculty deficit. IITs are finding it difficult to have pool of good brains that will step up to the faculty in the future. Over a period of time, we will be able to build a pool of good caliber researchers and it will make a big difference on faculty recruitment.”
Talking about the vacancies, a report prepared by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resource Development (HRD), headed by BJP MP Satyanarayan Jatiya asked the Department of Higher Education to look into the “acute shortage” in faculty of IITs and other Central Universities.
There are 23 IITs in India - The firsts of the IITs sprung up in Bombay, Madras, Kanpur, Kharagpur and Delhi, followed by Guwahati in 1994. In 2001, an IIT was created in Roorkee and the next batch was established in 2008 and 2009, which included Bhubaneswar, Gandhinagar, Hyderabad, Jodhpur, Patna, Ropar, Indore and Mandi. Benaras Hindu University (BHU) IIT was formed in 2012. The latest batch of IITs was announced over the last two years: Palakkad, Tirupati, Bhilai, Goa, Jammu, Dharwad and the Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad.
In its report on faculty crunch, News 18.com had reported in 2017 that IITs are trying to attract global talent in academia. One of the first to be established, IIT Bombay is short of 389 teachers against the 1017 sanctioned by the ministry of human resource development. In the national capital, IIT Delhi’s staff strength is short by at least 40% of what is required.