The Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani Campus
BIRLA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY & SCIENCE (BITS) Pilani was declared a deemed university in 1964. Innovation, enterprise, commitment to excellence, adherence to merit, transparency and openness have characterised the institute in its march to eminence. The institute was supported in its early years by an impactful collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It helped redesign the BITS curriculum. As a result, Western education has influenced many of BITS’ programmes, policies and initiatives. Drawing from the MIT curriculum, the institute has allowed students to personalise their courses by adding electives to courses in their domain.
From its inception, the institute has been offering quality education in science and technology at all three levels (undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD). In its initial phase, BITS Pilani developed the ability to design educational programmes that were academically rigorous, broad-based, modular, flexible and relevant to the needs of industry and society, with the agility to adapt to the changing environment. Admission is based solely on merit and determined by BITSAT—a homegrown nationwide online test.
Industry engagement is one of the cornerstones of the educational philosophy at BITS Pilani. It is exemplified by two outstanding models of industry-academia cooperation—Practice School (PS), a best-of-its-kind 30-week curricular industry immersion monitored by faculty members in locations of the internship; and Work Integrated Learning Programmes (WILP), formal qualifications for industry professionals without having to leave their job, that address the up-skilling and re-skilling needs of industry in the sectors most critical for national development. The two programmes, in tandem, offer the ideal ground for experiential and cooperative learning.
One of the most significant academic flexibilities that BITS Pilani has pioneered is the dual degree programme, wherein a student pursues two degrees concurrently
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One of the most significant academic flexibilities that BITS Pilani has pioneered in India is the dual degree programme, wherein a student pursues two degrees concurrently, typically one science and one engineering, enabling them to equip themselves for careers in interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary areas. Other flexibilities include a thesis alternate to PS, control over the pace of progress, the opportunity to earn a minor certificate to prepare for a career, open electives, and a minimum credit requirement from Humanities and Social Sciences. The responsibility of students of having to make informed choices in exercising these options, their participation in institutional activities, including membership of bodies such as the Senate, and the autonomy in managing their forums and activities, have resulted in the development of well-rounded graduates.
To attain optimal scale to maximise impact, BITS embarked on a programme of expansion, first in Pilani starting in the mid-1990s, and then beyond. The first international campus of any Indian academic institute was established in Dubai in 2000, followed by campuses in Goa in 2004, Hyderabad in 2008, and in Mumbai in 2021. Today, over 17,000 students are enrolled on the campuses, and over 33,000 in the WILP.
A number of improvement and expansion projects have been undertaken during the last decade. In 2017, BITS carried out an exercise with a leading global strategy consultant, creating detailed roadmaps for the thrust areas of research, faculty, programmes and pedagogy, industry connect and alumni relations. These are well aligned with the goals set for the “Institutions of Eminence” pathway.
A pool of nearly 1.65 lakh alumni, about 65,000 from the on-campus programmes and another 1 Lakh from the WILP has contributed immensely to building the brand and reputation of BITS. More than 7,500 BITSians have founded enterprises and 6,300-plus are CEOs with several social enterprises among the ventures created. Thirteen leading ventures by BITSians across the globe have over $63 billion market capitalisation; 12 alumni startups are unicorns, one of them being a decacorn. Alumni have supported a number of initiatives, including campus networking, telepresence, scholarships, research centres and laboratories, and are currently helping in setting up innovation and convention centres.
BITS Pilani was declared an “Institution of Eminence” by the Ministry of Education in 2020. Realising the importance of interdisciplinary research in the modern world, the Department of Science & Technology selected 25 institutions to host Technology Innovation Hubs (TiH) under the aegis of the National Mission for Interdisciplinary Cyber Physical Systems (NM-ICPS) to identify the technology needs, develop solutions and provide technical support in CPS implementation. BITS is the only non-government institution among the 25 selected and was awarded a grant of `125 crore.
Innovation, incubation and entrepreneurship are major drivers in our governance with a Technology Business Incubator on each campus that have nurtured around 170 startups since inception, 80 of them in the last three years.
The high-quality student input, staunch support of our alumni, industry engagement, cooperation of our industry partners, qualified and committed faculty, underlying financial model and an enlightened governance mechanism have gone hand-in-hand to instil a sense of confidence that BITS Pilani will continue to march towards higher levels of excellence.