Delhi Government’s initiative to improve Higher Education Research

A new incentive scheme, ‘Matching the fund’ was launched by the Education Department on Wednesday. According to the scheme, the Delhi government will match the fund that institutions generate from either corporate or donations. This will serve to encourage corporate partnerships with the institutions.

Education Minister Manish Sisodia has directed the Department of Education to make it a scheme for all state universities in Delhi. There would be different terms for grant and non-grant in government-aided institutions. The aim would be to bolster research in different fields like the Humanities, Arts, Business, Finance, Natural Sciences and Technology.

This decision was bolstered by the success of a pilot project of the scheme carried out in Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi (IIIT Delhi) an autonomous research and innovation institute under the Delhi government. The institute managed to raise Rs 15 crore from various corporates. The funding is for the purpose of research in computer science, electronics, communication and information technology research. Various corporations like the Infosys Foundation, Intel, Microsoft, and Google have contributed funds.

The ‘matching the fund’ scheme would be one of the few decisions of the Aam Aadmi Party government in the field of higher education in the Capital, as their focus has mostly been on school education so far.

“Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia has established an innovative and novel method for IIIT-Delhi. For supporting research, the Government approved the Director of IIIT Delhi, Professor Pankaj Jalote’s proposal that it will provide a matching grant each year to the Institute for the funds it raises from funding agencies and corporations.

This led to several renowned corporations and technology companies as well as Indian research institutions to invest in IIIT Delhi’s research since they knew that their contribution would be matched by the government. In the last year, Rs 15 crore has been raised with Rs 9.2 crore from corporate sponsors like IBM, Google, TCS, Adobe, VMWare with the largest donation coming from Infosys foundation,” informed the Delhi’s Directorate of Education.

As part of this scheme, the Delhi Government will match IIIT Delhi’s fund raise and will invest Rs 15 crore in higher education research and give incentive to corporations to invest in technology research.

“There are agencies in India to provide funding for research projects but the amount of funds available is not as high as it should be. Additionally, executing a research project, even if the direct costs of equipment and research staff is met by the project itself, requires the university to provide support for space, infrastructure, administration, and other costs associated with projects,” says the release.

“This (Matching funds scheme) is a simple and brilliant model for states to support their research-focused universities, without having to build elaborate ecosystems needed to support research directly,” it said.

“Across the world, a common approach for funding research in universities is to provide research grants through various funding agencies. There are agencies in India to provide funding for research projects but the amount of funds available is not as high as it should be,” said an official from Department of Education, Delhi government.

“Even the budget allocated to state universities is very little and the topic of research does not gain any importance in this scenario. Therefore, this matching-the-fund model will work in case of these universities,” he added.

The matching grant can be 100 percent or even more for those universities which receive little budgetary support from the state and can be lesser for those universities that get good annual budgetary support.

“This approach will not only cover the cost of doing research but will motivate the state universities to seek funding from agencies and corporations, making them more competitive nationally and globally,” the official added.

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