The upcoming campus of TISS Guwahati has created a lot of buzz
Prof S Parasuraman, director, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) Mumbai talks in detail about the upcoming campuses in Guwahati and Hyderabad. Author of the Development Dilemma: Displacement In India, Great Britain and co-author of Listening to people living in poverty and India Disasters Report, USA and New Delhi says tells PaGalGuY what's in store for TISS in future.
Prof S Parasuraman
How are the campuses at TISS Guwahati and Hyderabad coming up?
The permanent campus for Guwahati is under construction. It is within the Assam Engineering College campus in Jalukburi, overlooking the Guwahati Lake, which is a Ramsar site (protected site). It will be more of a residential university for which we have been assigned 25-30 acres of land. The government had allocated more land to us but it was outside the city, and we wanted the campus to be located within the city. The campus is expected to get fully functional in the next two years but we will be shifting fractionally to the permanent campus by June next year when our undergraduate and post-graduate programmes will begin. In the temporary campus at Cotton College, we are currently offering diploma programmes. The Guwahati campus will house classrooms, faculty offices, etc in one block, while the second block will have two separate wings for girls and boys hostel. It will also have an auditorium, library, computer lab, geographical information system (GIS), and staff and faculty rooms. The Hyderabad campus has been allocated 100 acres of land. The facilities offered in the Hyderabad campus will be better than what is offered in Mumbai. In terms of time frame, Hyderabad will follow the same trajectory as Guwahati.
Can you elaborate on the programmes to be offered at TISS Guwahati?
The Guwahati campus will have many innovative programmes. There will be a five-year integrated programme in social sciences, which will include the humanities, maths, philosophy and logic. The combination of the subjects is intended in such a way that the students don't lose out on the quantitative part of it. This is similar to the three-year liberal arts programme offered in the US. Once the students complete their bachelors in social sciences, they can either go the college of their choice, or continue at TISS and specialise in developmental studies, counselling, social work or ecology and climate change in the fourth and fifth year. They can also choose to enroll in either of the four master courses in human resource management, social entrepreneurship, health management and public health management. The management courses will have 30 seats each, and will start in 2013. TISS graduates will have 70% of the seats for the masters courses reserved for them, while the rest 30% will go to outsiders.
TISS Hyderabad will reportedly have some faculty on a contractual basis. Why is it so?
We will have a five-year contract for the faculty at TISS Hyderabad. On completion of the second year, based on the assessment of their performance, the faculty can choose to become a permanent member or resign. The move to hire faculty on a contractual basis is to attract good faculty and retain them. The purpose of contractual basis is to ensure quality. We are experimenting with this provision only in the Hyderabad campus. Only those having a Phd + three years of work experience can apply for lecturership. We are also focusing on extremely good academic record and research experience, in terms of publishing papers. Lectures given in one campus would be available to students in the other two campuses through video-conferencing and Skype. All our journals are available online and all the publications of Oxford, Sage, Cambridge, etc which are in the Mumbai campus can be subscribed online.
In 2007, TISS Mumbai introduced two new courses; Masters in Social Entrepreneurship and Masters in Globalisation in Labour. How have the batches fared? What do you think is the future of welfare-oriented courses in India?
Both the courses have been successful. Most management programmes groom students for the industry. About 95% of the work force is part of the unorganised sector while only 5% is part of the organised sector. Entrepreneurship is therefore going to be an important part of India's economy. The purpose of our courses is to create professionals to be part of the unorganised sector.
The Jamshedji Tata Trust has pledged 1.8 million pounds for a London School of Economics-Tata Institute of Social Sciences collaboration in India. What's the nature and purpose of this alliance?
This alliance aims to expose our faculty to the international educational system and research facilities. TISS currently has a memorandum of understanding with around 50 universities from across the globe. We have identified funding from various sources for each collaboration. In this particular alliance, we identified the Tata Trust for funding. The money will be used for joint research, joint teaching programmes, exchange of Phd scholars and faculty. The faculty of TISS spends 50% of their time on teaching, 40% of their time on research and the remaining time for training. When the faculty will identify the effort involved in research and publishing internationally, it will enhance the capacity of the faculty and in turn, help students.
How will the seats be allotted at TISS Guwahati?
There are supposed to be 150 students for the five-year course. In its fifth year, the campus will have 750 students. Out of the 150 seats, two-third have been reserved for students from the North-east. Out the remaining one-third, 27% seats have been reserved for the OBC, 15% for the SC and 7.5% for the ST category. There's also a provision of super numerary seats, which means three more seats shall be added to the already existing 30 seats to accommodate deserving candidates. Around 3,000 students apply from the North-east to the Mumbai campus, and just 50-60 finally make it through. Two-thirds of the reserved seats are divided among the eight North-eastern states. The students who apply from the North-east are very meritorious and only the best students will finally make it to the campus. We anyway have a large pool of aspirants and setting up of new campuses will provide a better chance for more students to get admission.
Has there been any change in the eligibility criteria for TISS aspirants?
Since 2006 onwards, we have changed the criteria for all programmes, both management and non-management. Initially, we had cut-off marks of 60%, but now we take students on the the basis of their performance in the TISS written test and GD-PI. The reason behind changing this criteria is the vast difference in the marking system across universities. We try to focus on the admission process and judge candidates through that. We have also changed our internal evaluation system across all programmes. We have extended our grading system from 0-6 to 0-10 with effect from this year.
In 2007, TISS in collaboration with HR consultancy firm Adecco established a research programme that aimed to analyse growing talent needs of companies and availability of skill sets being taught in classrooms. Over a period of four years, how do you think the scenario has changed?
We are still working in partnership with Adecco and it produces papers on labour force, including sector requirements, quality of skills available, and projections on the needs of the industry among other things. Global turmoil is a cyclical phenomenon and is predictable because of the way capital behaves. The kind of economic policies the world follows, there will be turmoil.
What are the preparations ahead of the national conference on Corporate Social Responsibility in February. What will be the core issues for discussion?
We have a series of programmes on how public-sector companies can invest their resources and channelise it. The conference will analyse the experience of the public sector companies.