Dr Achyuta Samanta, founder KIIT University and Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) in conversation with Rozelle Laha, shares his vision as an education leader in the private sector
What is your vision with KIIT University?
KIIT University was started 16 years back in 1987. The progress made by us over these years with respect to infrastructure, ambience, environment, academia, student performance, student achievement, quality of faculty and the students is laudable. However, we have a long way to go as there is no limit to quality enhancement.
We will focus on quality faculty, quality placements, quality research publications and consultancy in the coming days, We are laying maximum thrust on research publications and consultancy in order to make a mark for KIIT and to raise its level of acceptance among people.
How do you ensure the quality of faculty at KIIT ?
We hire M-Tech graduates and PhD students from different IITs and NITs across the country as faculty at KIIT. We usually visit the old IITs during their campus placements. We also advertise in newspapers for faculty recruitment. We also try to ensure good pay and good working environment and ambience to our faculty members.
Please tell us something about employability of KIIT graduates. How do you attract corporate to your campus?
Despite of locational disadvantages, the employability rate has been consistently commendable at KIIT. We have Q A& been achieving over 92 percent placements almost every year across all the streams, while the remaining eight percent generally opt out of the placements process.
But, we need quality placements oncampus with more multi-national companies to ensure better salary for KIIT graduates. As of now, the highest package is around `17 lakh per annum and the lowest is about `3.5 lakh.
As of now, only seven to eight MNCs visit our campus. Our aim is to attract at least 30 to 40 such companies to our campus every year. We are convinced that our rigorous efforts, quality teaching and well-trained graduates attract the industry to hire from the campus.
What is your strategy of promoting KIIT among aspirants and corporates? Does being located in a non-education hub affect KIIT admissions and placements in any way?
Our acceptance among the students and parents is commendable. Like most private universities, KIIT too conducts KIITEE for admissions to various courses. in the university. As per last year data, 1,60,000 students appeared for KIITEE across the country. Out of these, 42,000 students competed for only 100 medical seats (out of which 15 percent is reserved for management quota) on offer. Surprisingly, 85% of these students are from outside Odisha with maximum student representation from North India. We host foreign students from 15 different countries on our campus.
What is the strategy for yielding better research output at KIIT ?
We have built the advance central research centre at KIIT, wherein we are offer `10 crore as seed money to the advance research centre. We also encourage faculty members already involved in research and consultancy to be more engaged in the same in different ways. At the same time, we are also invite quality scientists as faculty members on our campus. KIIT’s School of Biotechnology is perhaps one of the best in the country with excellent research and laboratories almost at par with any other private or government institution in the country.
What persuaded you to create Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS)?
KISS is a home to 20, 000 tribal children of Odisha who are educated from KG (kindergarten) to PG (Post-graduation) under one roof. It was started with the vision of eradicating poverty through education. KISS has not only become a beauty of the entire world but is also accepted by the Ministry of Tribal Welfare, Government of India as the most successful model as it is a fully-free, fullyresidential largest institute for the tribal children across the world. Once a child joins KISS, he leaves this place only after completing his higher studies with a good job in hand. We have achieved a zero drop-out rate at KISS.
I consider half education is more harmful than no education. We promote our KISS students to be selected in the IITs, IIMs and NITs. We bear the tuition fee on their behalf to encourage them to pursue higher education.
How did you conceive the idea of opening KISS in different districts and across the country?
After a successful experiment of the model in Bhubaneshwar, I decided to extend it to other parts of the country to reach out to real poor children of the country. This initiative, I believe, can convert children from being liabilities to becoming assets of the society. I have the vision of educating 200, 000 students across different KISS centres of the country in the coming 10 years. I would be establishing at least 100 schools in different states with the help of either the state governments of the respective states or some corporate.
Education is the key to eradicating poverty, lethargy, naxalism and every possible issue that plagues the society
There is an increasing urge among most institutions to open up overseas campuses. Do you have any such plans for KIIT University?
As KIIT policy, we do not establish any regional campuses. We strive to maintain quality only in the Bhubaneswar campus and hold no plans to establish additional campuses across the country. We have adopted such a strategy as we believe that inability to bring in good quality even in one regional campus can affect the overall reputation of the whole brand.