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We are able to compete with many countries on faculty pay: R Nagarajan, professor, IIT Madras

The alumni of various IITs are helping the institutes find global talent and the challenges in tapping into a global talent pool.

, ET Bureau|
Nov 03, 2018, 11.32 PM IST
"Education is highly subsidised at the IITs, especially for postgrad and PhD students," says R Nagarajan.
R Nagarajan, professor at the chemical engineering department of IIT Madras and the first dean of international & alumni relations, has been reaching out to professors and researchers abroad to find suitable faculty. He tells ET how the alumni are helping IITs find global talent and the challenges in tapping into a global talent pool. Edited excerpts:

Are systemic changes being put in place to attract more foreign faculty members to IITs?

The ministry of human resource development wants the IITs to encourage innovation. For that, we need global researchers and faculty from diverse geographic, cultural and social background. To attract top researchers, like the US graduate schools, we have to focus on foreign faculty and that change in mindset is happening at the IITs. But to move up in the global rankings, we also have to attract foreign students, too. Alumni can also play a role in attracting foreign faculty and we are reaching out to them to help identify people.

Do you have any foreign faculty members at IIT-Madras?

Out of 600 faculty members, we have 15 who are foreign passport holders. And of the total number, only five are not of Indian origin. This number is obviously too small and we aspire to hire at least 15% of our faculty – over 50 – from overseas. Of course, we will recruit academicians for the right reasons – because they are best in their field, regardless of nationality.

Are you able to offer salaries that are attractive for foreigners to relocate to India?

Our salaries are attractive and we are able to compete with many countries in terms of attractive packages. In fact, besides the US, the UK, Germany and Australia, our salaries are globally competitive. Besides, living conditions on campus are world-class and we provide international research facilities. Religious and cultural diversity and India’s vibrant democracy also attract many scholars.

Does India offer any advantages when compared with other countries?

Education is highly subsidised at the IITs, especially for postgrad and PhD students. This means that funds can be utilised for other purposes such as building infrastructure and labs. Besides, the cost of living in India is low and faculty members get attractive vacations and sabbaticals. The government’s affirmative stand on OCI card holders is also attractive for that segment.
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