What is 'Learn-Earn-Return' ?
In the backdrop of slashing of the Government funding to the institute and increase in fees for the students, IIT Kharagpur has come up with a plan called ‘Learn, Earn and Return’ to ensure a financial support system for the needy students and imbibe the culture of giving back among the KGPians to sustain regular inflow of funds . The scheme precisely tends to create a cycle of flow of funds to the institute in which the alumni will fund the study of current students who in turn will return the money manifold to the institute.
The Idea behind this initiative
The Government pays over 5 lakh rupees per annum per student to the institute and the tution fees of the students are highly subsidised. This year the tution fees have been hiked from 90,000 to 2 lakhs per annum. Although there are systems of Interest Free Education Loan but the students have in their mind to compensate the loan at its earliest and they may preferably choose jobs instead of their inner choice of pursuing further studies. The scheme will be helpful to those students who are economically weak and meritorious and promote student excellence.
The alumni have been requested to donate money generously for this cause either giving a one-time amount or on a regular basis. 100% income tax exemption will be available under section 80G for the funds in this scheme. The alumni can donate either online through the website or through IIT Foundation US which is an organisation actively working for endowments to IIT Kharagpur or offline by directly transferring money into account or by sending cheque to the institute . Over 60,000 IIT Kharagpur alumni who are suitably employed, if donate a meagre amount of 10,000 rupees each , the institute can collect a handsome sum and accordingly work in order to prove itself as the best university in India.
The donation will be counted in units with one unit comprising of Rs. 10,000 and 20 such units will be enough for funding one student per year.
Benefits for the Students
The scheme has been launched as a financial support to provide scholarships and fee waivers to those who need and deserve it.While the institute will use part of the funds to directly support current students, it will also use parts of the funds to ensure stability in the scheme by creating and strengthening a corpus to sustain the scheme in future.Scholarship/ waivers will be awarded in a graded manner considering the student’s merit and economic background. The amount of scholarship will depend upon the availability of funds. Some students with exceptional academic excellence will get full waivers. For the newly-admitted students, those within top 100 ranks will get a chance to avail the scholarship. The funding will be based on academic performance in subsequent years,too.
Those who will be given chance to avail the scheme, will be required to take an honour pledge to return money so as to sustain the cycle of the scheme after establishing their careers.Student should not be recipient of any other major scholarships or waivers which is in tandem with the institute’s rule of one scholarship for one student. He must not have received any disciplinary committee action or major backlogs. In order to promote research among these students the institute may ask some students to teach under Peer Assisted Learning Programme or opt Research Assistance at the institute or other institutional work as intern.
Prof. Partha Pratim Chakrabarti, Director of IIT Kharagpur , who is himself an IITKGP alumnus has appealed to fellow KGPians and other stakeholders of the institute to consider Contributing in the scheme and promoting it in circles through his facebook page. According to him , this scheme “will encourage students ‘Learn’ and flower into brilliant researchers, professionals, entrepreneurs, or whichever way they wish to grow without a major financial burden, ‘Earn’ while making an impact on the lives of others, our country and the world, and ‘Return’ to their Alma Mater / an Institution which shaped the career growth of thousands and sustain future KGPians.”
There has been a significant inflow of funds of about 27-28 Lakhs of rupees for this scheme not only from the alumni but also from other sources. But the scholarships have not been started yet. The most appreciable part of the scheme is that the donors can keep track of where and how their money is being used.
IIT's World Ranking may improve
One of the reasons that experts cite for the below par ranking of IITs among its peers in the world is the funds raised by the alumni.While Harvard University gets 60% of its funding from the alumni IITs are far behind. So the scheme may well be considered as a beginning for the IIT system in its endeavour to reduce the level of dependence on the Government funds. The director of IITKGP also gave the example of Harvard University in terms of generous alumni.
Since the current crop of students of IITs are job oriented in general, the administration wants them to focus on research without thinking about their expenditure through this scheme. The major challenge is to change the mindset of students who are focusing more on financial stability after attending college. Will the scheme be effective enough in changing the mindset, only time can tell.