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PERSPECTIVE

Promoting a Climate for University Research: OURIIP, the Odisha University Research and Innovation Incentivization Plan

ASOKA KUMAR DAS

Vice Chairman, Odisha State Higher Education Council, Pustak Bhavan, A11 Suka Vihar, Bhubaneswar 751 022, Odisha
Email: asokadas@gmail.com

Received: November 12, 2018; Accepted: November 19, 2018; Published: December 13, 2018.

DOI : 10.29195/DSSS.01.01.0014

Introduction

On November 14, 2018 the Minister for Higher Education in Odisha, Mr. Ananta Das released a policy guideline on the Odisha University Research and Innovation Incentivization Plan (OURIIP). The plan provides funding support in three aspects with the aim of promoting high-quality research. The first is to provide fellowships for students pursuing research. The second is to provide seed funding for early career research to the faculty across universities in the state, and the third is to support high-quality publications. The details of the scheme are given in the attached brochure, and in this introduction, I briefly discuss the motivation behind the OURIIP.

The best way to define Higher Education is a process that goes about creating a better tomorrow for all of us. There are four main constituents of higher education today namely, teaching-learning, competency development, research – innovation, and inculcation of a value system. In its efforts towards raising the level of higher education to global excellence, the state of Odisha has introduced a large number of reforms in each of these sectors. Some of them include capacity building, governance changes, examination reforms etc., and these are already being introduced in the state universities.

Research and Innovation is the heart of knowledge, a means to create livelihood and the benchmark of global excellence in the new millennium. The present government of Odisha was quick to realize it. The state of Odisha has been trying to address the lacunae like inadequate sophisticated research tools, e-libraries, scarcity in competitive research funding in terms of early career grants, lack of full-time research scholars in state universities, etc. While a few of these are being addressed through the World Bank loan assisted project, Odisha Higher Education Program for Excellence and Equity (OHEPEE), the issues related to full-time research scholars and the seed research grants needed to be addressed through a different scheme.

In this context, this new scheme OURIIP will provide about 175 state junior research fellowships (5 in each subject for 35 subjects) @ Rs. 15,000/- per month for four years (+1) or on completion of PhD, whichever is earlier. The CSIR-NET qualification is kept as the minimum eligibility for the scholarship. The candidate has to complete her work as a full-time scholar at any state university of Odisha and publish quality papers in Science Citation Index (SCI) journals for the continuance of the fellowship. A novel monitoring scheme through an annual Scholars Conclave is designed as the platform for review, and it is expected that this will increase annual research publication by at least 150 good papers per year. At the end of five years, the state should have more than 700 full-time research scholars producing excellent output in terms of publications and patents. The annual outlay would increase by Rs. 35 million until it steadies at Rs. 175 million after 5 years. Keeping equity goals in mind, 40% of fellowships will be reserved for women researchers.

Beyond the research students, young faculty below 40 years of age play a key role in contributing to R&I footprint. In the second part of the OURIIP proposal, young faculty will be encouraged to compete for a seed grant of Rs. 500,000 for a two-year period. Proposals will be reviewed, assessed and up to 40 seed grants in all subjects including technical areas will be sanctioned annually. In the next five years, this should induct about 200 young faculties into the R&I culture. The Scholars Conclave will also be the common platform to monitor their progress.

The third part of OURIIP provides publication support to outstanding journal publications. This initiative is expected to expand and revitalize the research-innovation culture/footprint in the state universities of Odisha. This scheme will be implemented by the State Higher Education Council on behalf of the Higher Education Department of Odisha Government.

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