HEMALI CHHAPIA / Nov 7, 2022, 08:03 IST
Mumbai: For long, only India's premier institutes flew out to shop for faculty members. The IITs and the IIMs through their deep alumni networks attracted many teachers from campuses around the world and marshalled them to Indian campuses. Now, however, private Indian universities too have joined the bandwagon. They are holding recruitment weeks around the world looking for professors, full-time, visiting or even in an advisory role.
The hunt often begins with an intense desire to bring back true-blue international faculty that has circulated across several campuses and is ready for a sunny "Indian chapter". Meant to extend the universities' boundaries of knowing, working and researching, international faculty also spearhead internationalisation for the campus.
The US and the UK are big on everyone's radar, but the search extends beyond too. Across the landscape of Indian private universities, there are faculty originating from several corners: from Syria to Singapore, Taiwan to Tanzania, from Hong Kong to Hungary. Professor Armin Rosencranz, a lawyer and political scientist from Princeton earlier taught at Berkeley and Stanford; professor Stephen Marks, a dean at Jindal School of Public Health and Human Development lives on the Sonipat campus, and was formerly with Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. Magdalena Golebiowska, who teaches western vocals, has taught in several universities but her treasured achievement was teaching at the African Music School in Central African Republic.
"We have been conducting recruitment drives in major cities in the USA, UK, Canada and Australia and many other countries to attract candidates from international academia. Also, we conduct campus recruitment drives in top international universities such as Stanford University, Harvard University, Tufts University, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, King's College, and QMUL, among many other top universities to hire faculty members," said Jitu Mishra, chief operating officer and senior director HR, OP Jindal Global University.
Currently, 114 international faculty members from 46 different regions are working at JGU. At Plaksha University, 90% full-time faculty have international experience; 12 visiting faculty are international citizens. The university recently concluded a recruitment drive in the US across 7 US cities in 15+ universities where they made presentations to postdoctoral fellows and PhDs, who may be interested in an Indian innings. Out of a total strength of 250 teachers, Shoolini University has 32 international faculty members, apart from 31 faculty members of Indian origin who have either taught or undertaken research in foreign universities.
"International faculty members are happy to live in India, and we are happy to have them as they give our students access to a vibrant academic and research environment. We have also provided accommodation to our foreign faculty members from the US, Taiwan, Syria and many other countries, either on the campus itself or some nearby location," said PK Khosla, chancellor, Shoolini University.
At Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, of 2,065 faculty, 105 are international, defined by the university as those with a PhD from a foreign university or has at least two years of experience in teaching or research in a foreign university. Atish Chatopadhyay, vice chancellor, Vijaybhoomi University, said it has 6 international faculty members recruited via specific contacts in leading foreign higher education institutes that offer specialist music programmes. "Most of our international faculty members come on a 1 to 2 year full time contract. In our recent experience since 2018, most faculty members renewed their contracts for at least one more term of 1- 2 years," said Chatopadhyay.
At most other universities, too, international faculty members generally come in visiting and part-time roles, and some even spend their entire sabbatical. Then, there is the diaspora academics that immigrated from one country to another, often obtained citizenship in that country, and are lured "home". Perks often include a higher compensation package, research grants, funding for conferences, publication rewards, apart from accommodation, health insurance and other campus facilities.
"Recruiting overseas faculty, especially in the STEM fields, can be an expensive proposition as faculty want research capacity, infrastructure, and remuneration that is at least on par with global standards. For India, universities are recruiting from overseas because the faculty members come with global teaching and research experience that are not as easily found in India. Initially, many of these faculty may come for short-term visiting roles but as the research infrastructure in Indian universities grow, it will be easier to attract faculty on a more full-time basis," said George Joseph, who works with Indian universities on their global strategies.