Since its inclusion under the World Bank’s TEQIP programme in 2003, the 163-year-old college has reinvented itself
The College of Engineering Pune (CoEP) isn’t just one of the oldest in Asia — it was established in 1854 — it is also a leader in technical education, with some of India’s best and the brightest having passed through its doors.
In 2003, the college was chosen through a nationally competitive process to be one of the 127 engineering and technical institutes supported by the Technical Engineering Education Quality Improvement Project (TEQUIP, the World Bank’s longest-running project in the field of higher education) implemented by the Ministry of Human Resource Development. That triggered a transformation in the institute, with a major overhaul of its quality of education and a widening of its range of programmes.
Dr. Bharatkumar Ahuja, Director, CoEP, says, “The Government of Maharashtra had granted us complete autonomy in 2003 as a precondition for participating in TEQIP. We then revamped our curriculum using IIT Bombay as the role model.”
Under TEQIP- Phase II, in 2011-16, the college received a Rs. 25 crore to bolster their higher education programme. “We ended up introducing five new programs that eventually resulted in increased student intake,” Dr. Ahuja says. It has introduced a choice-based credit system, with mathematics being made mandatory in all eight semesters in undergraduate and post-graduate programmes. It has also introducing mandatory courses on innovation entrepreneurship in the second and third years, to help students cope with industry demands.
“Given the growing importance of bio-medical engineering, the institute introduced a new course in biology way back in 2007,” Dr Ahuja says. “Now, IIT Bombay has emulated us by introducing a similar course.”
Before TEQIP, CoEP had 99 regular faculty members, of whom 11 were PhDs. Now, the institute has a 217-member faculty, with 118 PhDs. And the college’s TEQIP audit score has shot up from 5 grade points in 2005 to 9.5 in 2009.
TEQIP: growing engineers
“There are programs at World Bank which endure for barely four years. But TEQIP has transcended time constraints,” said Franciso Marmolejo, Lead, Global Solutions Group on Tertiary Education, World Bank.
Prof. Marmolejo, who is the World Bank’s Lead Education Specialist in India, said that CoEP’s transparency, participatory approach, and willingness to learn and share has led to the institute not only bolstering its own standards, but actively taking the lead in mentoring ‘weaker institutes’ in economically challenged states.
“TEQIP Phase- III, which begun recently, in 2017, will carry forward the quality-oriented reforms initiated under TEQIP-II,” Prof. Marmolejo says. “Its focus will be on shoring up the quality of engineering education system in India’s low-income states. Around 100 government engineering colleges from these states will be paired with well-performing colleges from previous phases of TEQIP, like CoEP.”
“The project has leveraged the expertise of the best in the country, the IITs and IIMs, to improve the academic rigour in TEQIP colleges while also strengthening leadership practices,” said Tara Béteille, TEQIP’s project leader. Ms Béteille says that this kind of resource-sharing and leveraging is especially vital, given that India has more than 30,000 higher education institutes spread across the country.