IIFM invites flak
Large scale expansion by way of a twofold increase in the number of seats is in the offing at the prestigious Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM), Bhopal. The institute has set up a high-level internal committee to explore ways of increasing the number of seats for its courses and opening up more research centres.
The 23-year-old institute, which was set up by the Union Ministry of Environment and Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) to cater to the niche segment of forest management has been adopting a low profile until now. Of late, the IIFM has come under intense scrutiny of the Central Government on account of its skewed student-staff ratio.
The institute has a total student strength of 100, while the number of staff members stands at over 130. Half the students remain out of the campus on field trips for the most part of the year, leaving the employees with very little to do. This has created a problem of overstaffing in the institute.
Besides, most professors are engaged in large-scale research projects in the field of environment conservation, or management development programmes with corporate companies, which has resulted in their neglecting regular classes.
In view of the issues involved, a six-member internal committee headed by Professor Manmohan Jadhav has been set up to make the Prospective Plan of Expansion in the next five years. Although, the committee is yet to submit its final report, feelers are being sent out on what the institute would look like in the near future.
The institute at present offers a two-year Post-Graduate Diploma in Forest Management (PGDFM), the entry for which is through the Common Admission Test (CAT) conducted by the IIMs. The total intake per year for the course is a mere 45 students. According to the institute Director Dr DK Bandopadhyaya, the main focus of the committee is to identify new training needs and revamp the existing courses.
"The intake for the PGDFM would be increased to the extent of 120 students per year, while the number of research scholars would be taken up to 20," said Dr Bandopadhyaya. Two research centres on Geographical Information Systems and Microfinance are also slated to be added to the existing three, which deal with Sustainable Forest Management, Community Forestry and National Afforestation.
"At present, the institute has been more focussed on research than education. With more students, the priorities of the institute would register a major shift," said the director. The internal committee has completed the requirement analysis stage with all stakeholders as part of its enquiry. Recommendations will soon be made to the Board of Governors, who will place it under scrutiny for final approval.