If you have tried searching or asking around for active exchange programmes in our college, you might have, in all probability, drawn a blank. The information is by no means easy to get, or so it seems, considering how we rarely ever hear of someone partaking in an exchange programme. The general perception in our campus seems to be that other colleges in the country are much better off than ours, with respect to international collaborations. This perception is what drove DoJMA to find out whether the scene really is as perceived, or if there’s more to it all.
The division responsible for tie-ups with foreign industries and educational institutions is the International Programmes and Collaborations Division (IPCD). Although the university website lists a student-in-charge from the 2010 batch, the division was officially formed only in 2012. The current Dean of IPCD is Dr. Suman Kapur from the Hyderabad campus, while the Associate Dean of the Goa campus is Prof. M. Srikanth. There is a well established team of teaching assistants (PhD. scholars) and students who contribute to the IPCD in various ways, although only in the Hyderabad campus.
While the IPCD section of the University website has a host of relevant information, it is yet to be updated regarding the Semester Abroad Programme, which was streamlined in April 2015. Perhaps the formation of a similar team in our campus would help spread awareness about any other programmes like this, more efficiently. According to reliable sources, students from Hyderabad and Goa campuses have registered for a full semester at partner universities abroad for the next semester (Semester I, 2015-2016).
Credit transfer for this programme can be considered from any university that ranks among the top 400 in QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) or THE (Times Higher Education) world rankings for universities, even if it there is no MoU with BITS. For deciding course equivalence, the student can apply in the prescribed form to the Head of the Department, following which a set procedure will be followed to finalize the student’s application. 
The process of getting administrative approval may take time, but it is comparable to the procedures followed in other colleges; in addition, it gives us the freedom to choose amongst hundreds of colleges offering courses/projects in an equally large number of fields. In this way BITS has, once again, given us more freedom than students from most other colleges can possibly imagine. Of course, the task of communicating to a foreign university and convincing them of your credentials and passion is and always has been the student’s. This is true even in the case of long-established institutes, such as IITB and IITM.
Apart from the Semester Abroad Programme, there are two more programmes that most of you may not know about. The first is the Ontario-Maharashtra-Goa student exchange that every student in BITS Pilani, Goa is entitled to. 16 Canadian Universities- of the likes of Queens University, Kingston and York University, Toronto- are a part of this. Detailed descriptions of the degree programmes and courses are available on the official website. 
The second is the Charpak Scholarship programme, an initiative by the French Government, of which our college is a member institute. It offers three kinds of funding and the Exchange Programme is one of these. It has no CGPA cut-off, but rather depends on the student’s “academic excellence, as well as the consistency and quality of … [their] statement of purpose” 
On that note, it is important to bring to notice another interesting initiative by the IPCD. Prof. M. Srikanth is overseeing the formation of a Prototyping Lab (along with Dr. Amalin Prince, Dr. Asima Shaukat, Dr. Indrani Talukdar, Dr. Gaurav Singh and Dr. S.K. Sahay) as a part of a proposal made by him to collaborate with French universities and industries, after having discussed with representatives of the French Embassy. The intended purpose is to collaborate with universities and industries in France so that students from these universities can work on projects at an institute other than their own. (This is comparable to Fab Labs , an initiative that you may already be aware of.) It is planned to further use this lab as a part of the BITS Maker Space initiative. There is an active Facebook group regarding the same. 
All in all, DoJMA feels that from having been established in 2012, to having several projects under its belt now, IPCD (and hence, the international collaboration scene in our college) has come a long way. Perhaps what is required at this hour is more action on our part, as students. It’s all out there; it is up to us to actively take part in them.
As of now, as students interested to help take things even further for our college, we can do two possible things:
- Look to form a students’ team for IPCD in the Goa campus as well.
- Join the team behind making the Prototyping Lab, which will, in most probability, be a part of the BITS Maker Space initiative that the CSA has recently launched.
Of course, the first point is subject to the administration’s approval, but considering how they are always ready to accommodate the innovations and passions of students in whatsoever way, when have we ever been held back by that?
DoJMA sincerely thanks Dr. Suman Kapur (Dean, IPCD) for being generous with her time and information regarding the IPCD. We would also like to thank Maitreya Naik, for his valuable insights on the making of the Prototyping Lab.
. The HoD will approve the equivalence himself/herself, or will seek the advice from the DRC (Departmental Research Committee). After the DRC approval, approval from ARP (Academic and Resource Planning) division will be sought and finally, ARCD (Academic Registration and Counselling Division) will be informed. The IPCD will then inform the foreign partner about the approval granted and also obtain the credits from the partner university. These credits will then be sent to ARCD for incorporation into student’s academic record. The norms for off campus thesis of 9 or 16 credits will be as per the currently prevailing procedure for 16 credits with co-supervision from BITS faculty.
. Ontario-Maharashtra-Goa student exchange programme: http://omg.ouinternational.ca/about-omg
. As stated in (and for more information, refer to: ) http://www.inde.campusfrance.org/en/page/charpak-exchange-program
. Visit http://www.fabfoundation.org/about-us/