A strong sentiment expressed in the survey I had conducted regarding doing PhD in India was the desire to have global exposure, and spending some time in a research group in overseas (there was also a strong sentiment in favor of spending some time in industry research lab). Though we provided for up to two international travels for presenting papers to PhD scholars so they can gain some international exposure, we felt that it will even be better if the student can spend a summer/semester/year in an overseas lab/institute.  Towards this end, we championed the “collaborative PhD program”, for which even in the first year we got about 10 collaborators.  First the key features of this program:

 

  • A PhD student is admitted into IIITD, from where he/she will get the degree. Interview for admission may be done jointly by IIITD and the partner group.
  • The main supervisor of the PhD scholar will be from IIITD; a co-supervisor will be from the partner group.
  • After doing the course work and starting the research, the scholar will spend 3 months to 1 year with the co-supervisor at the partner group/institution.
  • Most publications will be joint between the scholar, supervisor, and co-supervisor.

 

The financial model for this was that while the student is at IIIT-Delhi, we pay, and when the student is with the co-supervisor, the co-supervisor pays.

This program is a win-win for most involved – the student has the benefit of two supervisors, and also gets the exposure of working in another group/institute for some time. The supervisor and co-supervisor benefit by having a PhD student without having to pay for his scholarship for the full period, as well as build linkages and collaboration, which can prove to be very useful in future as international collaborations become more needed.

And this model avoids the complexities involved in joint degree programs, which require academic processes on both sides to converge on a common view, before proceeding – and this is an extremely complex and difficult exercise.

This model of collaborative PhD program is working well, as there is a lot of interest now across the world to establish collaborations in India. This year also we have many collaborations – most of them established by individual faculty members.

 

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