IITs to invest over $375 Mn to set up virtual varsity

By SiliconIndia   |   Wednesday, 30 January 2008, 06:09 Hrs
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Mumbai: The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are in talks with the U.S. based Carnegie Mellon University to set up a Virtual IIT.

To be set up at a cost of over $375 million (Rs 1,500 crore) over the next three to four years, it will enable aspiring IITians and engineering students who could not make it to the premier engineering institutes of technology to bag an IIT-equivalent degree online, reported Business Standard.

Currently, a four-year BTech (IIT) tuition fee is around Rs 27,000 per year while that of a two-year MTech (IIT) is around Rs 5,000 per year. The Virtual IIT, on the other hand, will be online, and therefore cheaper. Details on charges for an online degree, forms submission, evaluation and exams are being worked out.

The IITs will study the Carnegie Mellon University's distance learning programme - Open Learning Initiative started in 2002 - which is considered one of the most successful so far.

"We are studying the models of western universities as we plan to have a full-fledged online degree-granting programme. A large number of private institutions do not have good teachers. We want to provide an online programme in which not only students but also professional engineers and faculty can benefit from the engineering courses delivered by IITs," said an IIT director.

The IITs plan to shortlist around 50 national-level engineering colleges to set up well-equipped laboratories where students taking online courses could go for practical sessions.

The IITs have already discussed this idea with some leading Indian IT companies that are willing to support this initiative.

To begin with, the online National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) course content that the IITs deliver currently on the website http://nptel.iitm.ac.in could become the base for Virtual IIT.

The IITs also plan to make the courses available on Google and You Tube. An online evaluation process could also be devised followed by certification for Virtual IIT courses.

NPTEL has registered about 770,000 visits since September 2006 and in a survey conducted by IIT Madras lasting eight to ten months when the IITs had login/register utility, about 180,000 accessed it more than a few times, 50 percent of whom are employed after a degree, 40 per cent students and about 10 per cent teachers.

Access by users in India is predominant (90 per cent), followed by those in the US, Canada, the UK, West and South Asia (8 percent) and the rest scattered over 130 countries. ($1=40)

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