we could recruit a senior faculty member from the US as her husband was setting up a business near Mandi. But on an average, one or two faculty members leave us every year due to lack of work opportunities for their spouses. We are in the process of setting up a research centre at IIT-Mandi so that entrepreneurial opportunities can be made available for spouses,” said Gonsalves.
At times, the couples face procedural roadblocks. Prof Baidurya Bhattacharya quit his job at the University of Delaware to join IIT-Kharagpur in 2005. But his doctor wife, Sangeeta, an MD from Johns Hopkins University, found it difficult to get permanent registration from the Medical Council of India, with the process dragging on for years.
“The problem of recruiting quality faculty and retaining them is faced by university administrations all over the world. This problem has become urgent in our generation since people have become more mobile, dual career couples are more common, and a highly educated assistant professor is very likely to have a highly qualified spouse these days,” said Prof Bhattacharya.
“A large educational institution can offer various employment opportunities to highly qualified spouses — as scientific officers, administrators, physicians, counsellors etc. The administration should not view the two-body problem as a liability but as an opportunity,” he added.
“In new IITs like in Ropar, Mandi, or even the older ones located in places like Kanpur, Kharagpur or Roorkee, there are limited employment opportunities.The solution is to create an enriching academic environment and bring soft options on the table,” said Prof S G Dhande, former IIT-Kanpur director.
“We have created excellent infrastructure and are giving seed grants for research. In fact, among the new institutes we have the highest number of couples working on campus — as many as four qualified spouses,” said Prof M K Surappa, IIT-Ropar director.
“No longer is it just about a qualified spouse opting to teach at a nearby school. Now you have highly qualified spouses. We recognise that and are planning to set up a consultancy cell for them. We also encourage spouses to opt for PhDs at the institute and venture