For the new academic year beginning August 8, the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) at Surat is set to move into its own 28-acre campus — which is still under construction and has temporary metal structures for classrooms.
This has drawn criticism from students who have demanded that the institute, one of “national importance”, continue functioning from its temporary home at the Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology (SVNIT) in Surat until construction is complete.
IIIT-Surat has been operating out of SVNIT, its mentor institution, since June 2017. But its memorandum of understanding (MoU) with SVNIT for using its campus ends July 31.
Students have now been posting pictures of the waterlogged construction site at Kholvad village in Kamrej taluka of Surat district — with the hashtag IIIT_in_a_shed.
IIIT-Surat’s principal J S Bhat told The Indian Express that what the students called tin sheds were “imported engineering materials” approved by the government.
He said the Central Public Works Department is constructing the temporary structures — classrooms, labs, a washroom and a canteen — on 1.75 acres at a cost of Rs 9 crore, and is expected to complete the job by August 10 owing to rain delays.
“The premises will have all the facilities including classrooms having cool temperatures, a lavatory, and a canteen. The materials used for setting up temporary classrooms had been approved by the ministry. They are also durable. Over 500 students can sit in these structures at a time. There will be air conditioning and fans with all the facilities in the classrooms and laboratories,” he said.
A fifth-semester student of Electronics and Communication at IIIT Surat, requesting anonymity, told The Indian Express: “At the new premises, construction is in progress and it will be difficult for us to concentrate on studies. Our accommodation is also 12 km away.”
According to sources, the hostel is in a government school at Valthan village.
The student added: “We have created a Twitter page putting up our issues. We wish that till our new building is constructed with all the facilities, we should be shifted to another campus of NIT. Once we complete our course, we will face problems, as we fear no companies will come to a tin-shed structure for placements. We will reach Surat before August 8, and put up our demands of getting ourselves shifted to some other place. If this is not met, we will carry out a protest.”
A Twitter account run by the name of Ambikesh Mishra tweeted with the hashtag ‘IIIT_in_a_shed’: “Our seniors worked so hard and achieved splendid placements with an average above 14 lakh LPA. But what do you think, which multinational companies will visit Tin shed for placement interviews, which even don’t have conference rooms.”
“It makes me feel depressed day by day now, First year gone online without proper studies. Why do we have to suffer this?. Was our preparation not good enough???, Shame on IIIT surat? Transfer us to a good college, if you can’t manage a college,” a Twitter handle by the name Swayam Behera posted.
Principal Bhat said: “In 2020, the land was allotted to IIIT Surat by the Gujarat government. Due to the pandemic and lockdown, the construction was delayed. Once we get our new premises, a concrete structure, ready in about 2 years, we will shift the students there. The old premises will be used for research, training and other activities.”
IIIT Surat offers B.Tech degrees in Electronic and Communication Engineering and Computer Science Engineering.
The first batch of 96 students of both engineering fields passed out in 2021 and the second batch with 115 students will pass out this year. Sources said that there are over 340 students studying in IIIT Surat, which has around 22 faculty members against the required strength of 32. The shortfall had been met by a few SVNIT professors.
IIIT-Surat came up following an MoU with the President and Gujarat governor as signatories along with industry partners Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizer and Chemicals (GNFC), Gujarat Informatics Limited (GIL) and Gujarat Gas Limited — all state-run PSUs