Though there is a lot of buzz around Artificial Intelligence (AI), the traditional computer science engineering (CSE) course seems to be the first choice of JEE toppers. There are a few Indian institutes that offer an on-campus traditional course, including at an undergraduate level, in AI, but not many opt for this. This year too, most toppers, including AIR 2, have opted for computer science. Chirag Falor, who secured the top rank, went to the MIT, US.
Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) Delhi, one of the few institutes that offer a full-time BTech course in AI, said that it has seen high-scoring students take admission for this course, but the top rankers still chose the traditional CSE. Ashutosh Brahma, assistant manager (academics), IIIT-Delhi told indianexpress.com, “AI is an ongoing trend. Students are opting for AI both at the masters and BTech level. While in MTech, there is more traction than at the undergraduate level. This is because traditionally in Indian education set-up students learn about a broad domain at UG level and go into specification at PG. Likewise, students tend to study CSE at UG and AI at PG level.”
He, however, believes the trend is changing. “AI is expected to follow the graph of research. Like earlier research education was introduced at masters’ level and PhD level, now even undergraduate level students are encouraged to study research. Likewise, with AI having multiple facets, its application is more evident, it will be more and more popular for ug courses too. We are slowly seeing the trend,” he said.
IIT-Delhi, one of the highest-ranking Indian institutes – has introduced a school in AI. However, the courses are offered at a postgraduate level. Prof Mausam, Jai Gupta Chair, Department of Computer Science and Engineering at IIT-Delhi, who is also the founding head of the School of Artificial Intelligence at the institute, said the lack of courses in AI at UG level stems from the debate among academicians on considering AI as a multidisciplinary field or a field on its own. “Some academicians believe that because AI brings in philosophical issues such as cognitive science into the study, the core fundamentals of it are slightly different than computer science and it should be taught as a different field. Others believe that even though AI is a multidisciplinary field its fundamentals are based in CSE, math, and related fields. Those who take the latter approach tend to offer the courses at a masters’ and a higher level of education.”
For institutes like IITs, IIMs, NITs, IIITs, and centrally-funded institutes, online platforms come in handy while offering such courses. Many cite the lack of trained faculty and curated courses as one of the main reasons behind much fewer courses than the demand.
“Dated content, faculty shortage, and limited capacity to match the current and incoming student population are some of the critical constraints the Indian higher education faces,” said Raghav Gupta, Managing Director, India and APAC, Coursera. The ed-tech platform has collaborated with over 3700 universities and is serving more than 2.4 million students who have enrolled in 21.4 million courses under Coursera for Campus initiative. Most of these collaborations are in the emerging technologies field.
Read| Emerging courses to pursue: Virology | Actuarial science | Pharma Marketing | FinTech | Coronavirus | Robotics | Healthcare Engineering | Cyber Security | Data Science | Petroleum and Energy | Design Strategy | Business analytics | Digital auditing | Digital marketing | Luxury management | Machine learning | Gaming Industry | Product design | Transport mobility design
Academicians believe that ed-techs can evolve faster than traditional institutes and can offer more courses in the emerging domains. “The reason is that in general academia is a little risk-averse. We invest time in finding the relevant material and contextual case studies. We need to learn to evolve at the pace of the industry. And it needs to happen systematically,” said Janat Shah, director, IIM-Udaipur. The institute, like several others, has a tie-up with the online platform Coursera to offer online courses in the emerging domain.
“The challenge, however, is that the emerging digital fields are changing at a much faster pace than we anticipated, and institutes need to be responsive. At IIM-U, we are also using ed-tech and MOOC, especially for such fields. Institutions will have to develop the competencies to leverage ed-tech for the short and medium-term. The ed-tech can be leveraged systematically to address this problem,” he said, adding that tier-II and III cities can leverage more from these platforms.