In a departure from the current trend in business education, the Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar (XIMB) is opening its own university and taking away some of its courses from what it describes as a restrictive All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) accreditation process. This will allow it to impart “innovative courses”.
To be named Xavier’s University, the institution will start its first campus in Orissa’s Puri district, followed by two more campuses in Sambalpur and Balangir districts.
“The AICTE has a lot of restrictions when it comes to expansion,” XIMB director P.T. Joseph said over the telephone from Bhubaneswar. “Now, we have got a go-ahead from the state government to start our own university.”
AICTE chairman S.S. Mantha could not be reached for his comments despite several attempts.
Joseph said the institute will spend about Rs70 crore in the first phase of the university plan, of which Rs20 crore will come from the state. While the first campus in Pipli, Puri, will be spread across 35 acres, the Sambalpur and Balangir campuses will be built on 25 acres and 15 acres, respectively. The university will be set up as a private one under the state’s rules, which means it will have more autonomy. “There will be more investment as we progress,” Joseph said.
The central government also wants to turn leading engineering and management institutes such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) into multi-disciplinary schools. The state-commissioned Yash Pal Committee on higher education reform had advocated the multi-disciplinary approach.
“IITs and IIMs were created in the first phase of nation building and kept out of the traditional university structure to give them free play to be able to help the nation have a pool of excellent engineering and managerial talents,” said the 2009 Yash Pal panel report. “To a fair extent, these institutions have succeeded… they need to broaden their curriculum and assume the role of full-fledged universities without losing their unique character.”
To start with, XIMB will offer students the rural management course without AICTE accreditation. “XIMB will remain as an institute under the AICTE umbrella. If they create problems, then we have to think otherwise. But we are taking our (two-year) rural management course to the university from next year when the university starts operation,” Joseph said. The institute will also run a master’s programme on public health in collaboration with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. It will also offer its three-continent master of global management programme under the university.
XIMB’s plan is a smart way of tackling issues related to AICTE, said Pramath Sinha, founding dean of the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad.
“AICTE was created as regulator to protect the interests of students and parents from fly-by-night operators and maintain a certain level of quality. But the body has become too restrictive for quality players. From regulation, it is now doing more of control that’s stopping quality institutes from expanding and innovating with course and curricula,” Sinha said.
Allowing serious players to open universities is creating an ecosystem that’s free of excessive control, he said. Sinha is planning to open a university in Haryana under the state’s laws.
Joseph said Xavier’s University will offer both undergraduate and post-graduate programmes in areas such as environmental management, microfinance, healthcare management and disaster management. Orissa chief minister Naveen Patnaik will lay the foundation of the campus on Saturday, according to an official invitation.
The state will pass a legislation to open the private university soon and till that time XIMB will call them additional campuses, instead of a university, the institute’s spokesperson said.