The Idea of a Summer School

Today, we have a large number of deemed universities, who are facing a serious shortage of quality faculty. The plan here is to make sure that the students of these colleges have access to the best faculty members in the country at least for a few courses.

The proposed summer school can be hosted by one of the deemed universities. (Why deemed university will be explained a little later.) Students from anywhere can register for these courses. The host decides what courses to offer, and invites the best experts in the country to teach those courses in the summer.

The duration of the program will be 7 weeks, so that we have one lecture a day from Monday to Saturday, while Sundays will be given off.

Why would an expert agree to teach in this program. The hosts will have to make sure that the expert gets a good office infrastructure, good communication (phone, internet, video conferencing), and access to digital libraries, etc., so that s/he can continue to guide their research students from remote. Besides the one-hour lecture, perhaps another one hour is needed for looking at notes, grading assignments, etc. The rest of the time is spent on research. The expert also gets an honorarium which is substantial. And the expert feels good about helping students of other less endowed colleges. And it is just a commitment of 7 weeks.

The expert can easily earn over Rs. 2 lakh for delivering that course, and Rs. 4 lakhs, if s/he feels comfortable offering two summer courses (assuming that the courses will be reasonably popular). This is certainly more than what most experts earn in summer when they go for a teaching assignment in US. And if the host also throw in lodging and boarding in a good guest house, it can be fairly attractive.

Where does the money come from. From students, of course. Any popular course given by a well known expert should have at least 60 students registering from all over the country. And these students pay Rs. 10,000 for each course as tuition. So for just 60 students, the income is Rs. 6 lakhs. The host institution keeps the remaining money after paying the expert, for use of its infrastructure, and management overhead. If the number of students exceed 60 (which one would hope it will), then we may need to hire a teaching assistant (who will get much less), and the host institution can make a profit.

Why would the students register for such a course. One obvious reason is that this adds value to their resume. A lot of students from various engineering colleges do summer courses from training places at similar or even higher cost. Instead, they are doing a course with a well known expert. In fact, the expectations are that the students would want to do two summer courses at a time. (The cost of hostel stay and mess is separate.)

But more importantly, this course can be treated as part of their curriculum. They would not have to do such a course in their college, who would give credit for this course. So they can either do one less course in the regular semesters, and have less stress, or if their college allows, use this method to graduate in one less semester. (Graduation in one less semester would mean significant savings in tution, and other expenses.)

And this is where the hosting at deemed university makes sense. This university will admit all summer students from other colleges as non-degree students. These students would register for one or two courses. A formal transcript would be issued by the host institution, and the parent institution will give academic credit for these summer courses (if they too are deemed universities, they can do so).

This scheme benefits everyone - students, colleges, experts. If this can be part of the regular summer calendar at a few universities, then students can complete six of their courses in the three summer terms that they have during the undergraduate program.

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