IIT Madras Zanzibar plans new courses, shift for permanent campus in 2025

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IIT Madras Zanzibar plans new courses, shift for permanent campus in 2025

IIT Madras Zanzibar plans new courses, shift for permanent campus in 2025

IIT Madras: Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras Zanzibar, Tanzania, started operating in October 2023. Preeti Aghalayam, its director, is also the first woman leader of an IIT. She spoke to Sheena Sachdeva about bringing together the values of both countries, scholarships and courses, the high expectations, challenges and more. Edited excerpts.

Q. There’s a debate on how to keep the Indianness of off-shore campuses intact. How do you look at such conversations?

A. Whatever we do, we are IIT Madras. In the DNA of this institute, Indianness naturally comes in. IIT Madras has brought in the academic curricula, student selection process, admission format, faculty selection, and pedagogy. Plus, we bring whatever we have learnt in 65 years of existence in terms of maintaining academic rigour, catering to an ever-changing world and ensuring that graduates are relevant in society.

Q. Both countries are former colonies. What is being done to ensure their indigenous knowledge and cultures are brought together?

A. This is a very unique partnership. We have had tons of discussions in order to ensure that this is a partnership with synergies and without the ‘I-bring-what-you-lack’ kind of environment. We are supported very well and when we came, we wanted to articulate the same thought of bringing our indigenous cultures together. After six months here, we have genuinely become a family. We call ourselves the IIT Madras Zanzibar family and our students have come from across the world.

Q. Zanzibar’s President described the IIT as the high point of his term and hoped it will drive economic change, help achieve the nation’s Vision 2050. There’s a burden of expectation.

A. Coming from an IIT, we are used to it. Because we are an Institute of National Importance and an Institute of Eminence, we are pushed to the forefront. So, we are used to it and accepting of it. Here, we have come as an actor and mentor. Further, we are not just a college. We are here to do a lot more!

Q. How many seats is the institute planning to increase?

A. Knowing the IIT Madras system for the past 20 years, I would say that you can expect the selection process to be stringent enough that while the number is likely to increase, there is no guarantee. If we get good students, we are ready for an increase.

We will definitely have more students in this batch but I think it is hard to put down a number because the process is not based on ranking.

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