I am pretty excited about this announcement for several reasons.
In general, any well thought of experiment in education space excites me. There is a severe dearth of experiments and new models for higher education. If an IIM is doing it, then they certainly would have given it a lot of thought and done a cost-benefit analysis from its own perspective and from the perspective of its potential students. It may fly or not fly in the future, but as Prof. Kelkar (founding Director of IIT Kanpur) used to say, "if educational institutions won't do experiments, who else will."
IIM Indore is planning to teach lots of different things in the first 3 years. These will include Maths, Computer Science, Biological Sciences, History, Political Science, Literature, Economics, Finance, Ethics, Law, and a lot of things related to business management. They will also include a foreign language (I hope they consider English as Indian language), and soft skills. This will really be a very broad based program, unlike most undergraduate programs in the country. I think there is a need to get out of the thinking that undergraduate is a terminal degree and is meant to create a specialist out of you. I hope other universities will follow IIM Indore and make their undergraduate programs more broad based.
There is a strong need in the country to have a higher education system which is outside the excessive control of regulators. In India, regulators don't regulate, they control. Today, we have PG Diploma programs, which despite AICTE's repeated attempts, have remained somewhat independent, and of course, we have a shining example of ISB, which offers excellent education at PG level without any approval of AICTE. We have nothing similar at the UG level. After this program, though most students will complete IPGP in 5 years, we will have some people getting out early
with just a diploma. And hopefully with the quality of education they would have received, they would find some decent jobs. This should encourage people to offer programs which sell not because they have a stamp of AICTE, but because industry and society at large values it for its quality.
Another reason for liking this program is the tuition they are charging. I have often argued that India has extremely poor quality education since institutions are not allowed to charge what it takes to offer high quality. In an earlier article on this blog, Pricing Engineering Education, I had argued that NIT quality education costs Rs. 2.5 lakhs per year. But since costs of IITs and NITs are hidden from parents, people don't believe those numbers. With IIM Indore charging Rs. 3 lakhs per year, I hope it will make fee regulators think and at least allow the best colleges to charge a more realistic tuition.
IIM Indore will be dependent on visiting faculty for teaching many of the under-graduate courses. I am sure they will only like to invite the very best faculty members for teaching these courses, and would be willing to give a decent payment for the same. Most NITs have a serious shortage of faculty, particularly in IT and other "popular" disciplines. But they bring in visiting faculty by paying Rs. 1000 per hour, peanuts really, and while a few serious people may still come in to help, a lot of visiting faculty is very poor quality. (Compare this with LNMIIT Jaipur, where we used to pay up to Rs. 5000 per hour.) I think a government institute paying a decent remuneration to visiting faculty will encourage NITs and other government institutes to treat their own visiting faculty better, and hopefully that will improve the quality of education in all such places.
In short, this is a wonderful experiment, and each aspect of the experiment will encourage other players in higher education to do things in better ways.