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An inconspicuous mail hit our inbox, with the subject GIAN, and was probably lost from memory as soon as we moved on to the next mail. Little did we know that a major step towards the future of collaborative education has been taken by the MHRD and hardly anyone knows about it. We’ve tried to dig deep into the matter and have come up with some useful information that provides an insight into the GIAN programme.
The Global Initiative for Academic Networks (GIAN) Programme in Higher Education was approved by the Union Cabinet in 2015 with the following broad objectives in mind:
- To tap into the talent pool of international scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs encouraging their interaction with Institutes of Higher Education in India.
- Augment greater collaboration within Institutes in India as well as with institutes abroad.
- To provide a learning opportunity to people working in the industry to improve their understanding and update their knowledge in relevant areas.
- To increase the participation and presence of international students in indian institutes.
GIAN currently includes all IITs, IIMs, Central Universities, IISc Bangalore, IISERs, NITs and IIITs. But over time this would expand to include State Universities as well. IIT Kharagpur is the coordinating institute for this programme.
A committee has been set up by the MHRD consisting of representatives from the MHRD, Chairpersons of UGC (University Grants Commission), AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education), and representatives from all the participating universities.
An implementation committee has also been constituted to finalize and approve the GIAN implementation through courses and to decide the budget allocation.
More details on the programme and its framework can be found on- www.gian.iitkgp.ac.in/
GIAN @ IIT Bombay
The GIAN coordinator for IIT Bombay is Prof. Ravindra Gudi, who is also the Professor-in-charge of CEP (Continuing Education Programme).
The CEP office at IIT Bombay has the mandates to assist working professionals in widening their knowledge, help Indian industries compete globally, promote strong industry-institute interaction and provide training to the academic community at large through faculty development and quality improvement programs. The GIAN programmes at IIT Bombay are conducted via the CEP office and therefore we spoke to Prof. Gudi, to get his opinion on the same. Here are a few excerpts from the interview:
What are the types of courses that come under GIAN?
GIAN courses are usually 5-12 days long and are conducted at the participating institutes. A list of these courses offered throughout the country can be found on its website. These courses focus on emerging areas of research and industry interest and are taught by international faculty as well as national faculty who are experts, on the concerned topics. While these courses are open to professionals from abroad, industry and the academic fraternity, they are also of immense value to senior undergraduates as well as to masters and doctoral students. The student community at IIT Bombay should take advantage of distinguished international experts visiting and conducting these courses, and register for them since these courses are heavily subsidized for students
How to register?
The first step in registering is to sign up on the main website by paying a one-time fee of ₹500, after which a unique GIAN registration number is given to each person. Once this is done, you can visit the local GIAN website (IITB-CEP website in our case) and look at the calendar which lists all GIAN courses that will be conducted at IIT Bombay. Each course has a brochure attached to it containing all the details including its overview, content, venue, fee, faculty information and registration and payment procedures. The GIAN registration number obtained via the one time payment is valid across all courses in the country. To look at all the courses running under the GIAN scheme across the country, you can visit the main website at IIT Kharagpur and view all the upcoming courses. The courses are heavily subsidised for the students (typically about Rs 1000/- per course over the 5 -10 days duration)
When do these courses run?
Most courses under the programme run in summer/winter vacations so that more students can avail the option of enrolling for them.
What about the Course Content?
Most courses that are conducted are pitched at an average graduate level and hence, senior UG students, M-tech and PhD students at IIT Bombay are encouraged to register for any of these courses; the mandate of these courses is to provide content on cutting edge research areas at a tutorial level. The GIAN circular states that these courses can be taken up as a part of the credit requirement and thus can be added to the CPI of a student. This, however, requires approval from the DUGC/ DPGC.
How has the response been from the IITB student community?
So far, only one GIAN course has been conducted on campus, by Prof. Sanjeeva Srivastava in December 2015 and the response to Prof. Srivastava’s course on Proteomics was overwhelming. The feedback has been positive and extremely encouraging. Two more GIAN courses on Constitutive Modelling in Practical Geotechnical Analysis by Prof Juneja and on Fundamentals & Applications of MEMS Resonators by Prof Gandhi respectively, would be offered this summer, and more such courses are on the anvil.
Comments from GSAA(PG)
We also discussed about this issue with the General Secretary of Academic Affairs (PG) Pankaj Kabira, who opines that while the courses are heavily subsidized for students at most institutes across the country, a drawback of this programme is that some institutes do charge an exorbitant enrollment fee, which could make it difficult for people from economically weak backgrounds to take up these courses. When asked about what was the best part of GIAN, he replied, “The most beautiful aspect of this programme is the fact that a student of any discipline can take this course in any other discipline. Only your interest matters here. For instance, a student from engineering can take up a course in sociology or even management.” He also said that the courses in GIAN are already open for UGs as well. “Students of IITB can get the courses taken under GIAN listed in their transcripts and they can also get credits for them. But this varies from course to course and is mentioned in the portal during registration”
So the next time around you receive an unobtrusive mail with the subject GIAN, you definitely know what lies beneath the never-ending hyperlinks. Don’t you?