Thursday, November 3, 2016

Visit to a state university in India

Like everything in India, higher education is incredibly diverse, both in quality, resources, and culture. These statistics give some of the flavour. There are about 800 universities. A significant distinction is between state and central universities. The former are funded and controlled by state governments. The latter (and IITs, IISERs, IISc, TIFR...)  are funded and controlled by the central (i.e. national/federal) government. Broadly, the quality, resources, and autonomy (i.e. freedom from political interference) of the latter is much greater. On my many trips to India I have only visited these centrally funded institutes and universities.

This afternoon I looking forward to visiting the Physics Department of Vidyasagar University. It is funded by the West Bengal state government, and was started in 1981. It is named in honour of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, a significant social reformer from the 19th century.

I am giving my talk on "Emergent Quantum Matter".
Here are the slides.

Update. I enjoyed my visit and interacting with the faculty and students. On the positive side, people were enthusiastic and there were some excellent questions from the students. I want to write a blog post about one question. On the negative side, it is sad to see how poorly places like this are resourced: whether infrastructure, lab equipment, lab supplies, library, faculty, or salaries. For example, there are 5 physics faculty members and they teach a full M.Sc. [2 years course work] to about 100 students. This is 2 courses per faculty per semester and obviously, their expertise is stretched to cover all courses. The Ph.D. students mostly have full-time jobs elsewhere and come in the afternoons and evenings to work on their projects. One travels 2 hours each way on public transport.

1 comment:

  1. In spending per researcher statistics, Austria is third $ 273 . It is surprising to see France spend less than Austria $214. Australia not there in the list.