Centre keen to set up IIT – Singapore


New Delhi : Keen to make its presence felt in the global education scene and more so in Asia, India is keenly pushing forward the Singapore government’s proposal to set up an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) on the island state.

The move comes soon after the launch of the CBSE International, granting affiliation to some 25 schools in West Asia and even as the Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry is examining a proposal by the Qatar government to invite IITs to set up a campus there.

“The project proposal has come for an IIT in Singapore and it is being considered seriously. The Singapore Education Minister also met HRD Minister Kapil Sibal on the issue today. We hope to take the project to the IIT council soon. It is proposed that the IIT council and maybe some other central educational institutes will participate to form a society called International Institute of Technology Singapore which will in turn start the IIT,” said an official.

Sibal, incidentally, has broken off from the traditional position of the HRD Ministry which has been opposed to IITs or IIMs venturing abroad, arguing that these “elite” educational institutions must focus their energies on India alone. The new dispensation in the ministry, however, believes in soft diplomacy and is keen that brand India should make a mark abroad.

Accordingly, the proposed International Institute of Technology in Singapore will provide BTech courses in sunrise sectors like energy, environment, communication & computing, design & manufacturing, international diplomacy and management, health science & technology, water resources and education. In the process it will also mark several firsts for the IIT system which still largely sticks to engineering.

Marking a growth trajectory, IIT Singapore will also emphasise postgraduate education in a major way and posit itself as a pan-Asian institute.

Highly placed sources said the Indian government had proposed to establish an Indo-Singapore Project Agency, headed by an academician, for the initiative. While India will largely assist with the intellectual capital in the venture involving IIT faculty and other academicians who will be in the core team that will prepare a detailed project report (DPR) for the project, the Singapore government is expected to pitch in for the funding arrangement and infrastructural support like land for the campus. Once the DPR is ready, it is envisaged that it would take about five years to set up the IIT Singapore and both governments would review the project every two years.

Ministry officials point out that estimated at a $100 billion industry, higher education is seeing expansion across continents. While India faces a huge internal market, its education system also commands a good reputation internationally and more so institutes like IITs that have developed as unique brands. While private institutions from India have set up management schools in Dubai and Singapore earlier, taking a full-fledged institution to foreign shores is only being considered seriously now.

A.S. Takhi
Second Secretary (Education)
Embassy of India, Jakarta