National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) is the pioneering institute of fashion education in the country and has been in the vanguard of providing professional human resources to the textile and apparel industry.
NIFT was made a statutory institute in 2006 by an Act of the Indian Parliament with the president of India as visitor.
NIFT provides a transformative educational environment for the talented young men and women to nurture their inventive potential and to acquire distinctive skills valuable to self, industry and society.
In an interview with special correspondent Greater Kashmir, Syed Rizwan Geelani Director NIFT Srinagar Dr Javid Ahmad Wani talks about the institution's progress since its establishment, current status of student enrollment, future plans and more. Here are the excerpts:
GK: You Joined as Director NIFT in June 2020. Where do you see this institution now:
Dir NIFT: Well NIFT Srinagar started its academic programs in 2016 with B. Des Fashion Design and Fashion Communication from Temporary Campus at Rangreth. Since my joining, I have been focussing on fast tracking the construction at the permanent Campus coming up Ompora, Budgam. We are likely to shift to a permanent campus next month and that will be a big achievement. Once you have a proper base and infra, we can then roll-out our expansion plans. We have also been able to recruit full-time faculty having diverse competencies.
GK: You were serving earlier in the Central University of Kashmir. How was the transition from CUK to NIFT? What makes NIFT different?
Dir NIFT: The work culture and overall academic approach at NIFT is different from our universities. Being a professional institution, NIFT has a strong focus on the employability of its graduates. Placement is taken as a core assignment rather than an auxiliary task. We have a very strong connection with industry and experts from industry are encouraged to teach the students. Regular updating of the curriculum is done to bring it in tune with the industry requirement. And yes, all 17 Campuses of NIFT work on a single hub of e-governance. Everything is digital and online. From files to HR to student affairs – it is all online. This makes the institutional governance and administration transparent, accountable and efficient.
GK: Has there been any increase in the courses offered by this institution
Dir NIFT: Yes. We already have B. Des Fashion Design and Fashion Communication running. From July, 2022 itself, we are launching two more academic programs (B. Des Fashion & Lifestyle Accessory and Masters in Fashion Management). In 2023, we shall add two more programs (B Des Textile Design and Masters in Space Design).
GK: The objective of setting up NIFT was to offer a stimulating, modernistic and evolving curriculum. Is the institution moving in that direction to achieve the goal.?
Dir NIFT: Currently, NIFT is ranked 11th in the world among the fashion schools. The credit for this global recognition goes to periodic review of the curriculum. Every four years, the curriculum is updated. We are doing it again in Aug 2022. The objective is to stay relevant. In this fast-forward world, it is very difficult to keep pace for teaching the right things. But NIFT is doing it in a smart way.
GK: What is the response of the students towards this institution? Do you think it has found takers (students) in Kashmir?
Dir NIFT: On the national level, there is a great demand for the courses of NIFT. Thousands of students compete in the national level test for admission. We have students from Kashmir but I would love to have more of them in the Campus. As a commitment to the local community, we have reserved 35 percent of seats in admission for the students of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. We are trying to reach our potential students through social media and other means. We need a sustained publicity campaign for spreading the word among the local student community and we are working on this.
GK: Since its inception, NIFT has been functioning from a rented building. When will it have its own campus?
Dir NIFT: We are most likely moving to our own Campus at Ompora Budgam in July, 2022. 90 percent of the construction has been completed. The Campus is coming up at an estimated cost of Rs 287 Crores. Besides high-end labs and classrooms, it has all the facilities like Business Incubator, Amphitheatre, Auditorium, Sports fields, Coffee Shop, Canteen, Hostels, Guest House, Residential Quarters, Community Centre etc.
GK: How do you see the success rate of NIFT in terms of job placement of students
Dir NIFT: NIFT primarily provides professional HR to the textile and fashion industry. We have different academic programs in design, fashion technology and management. Globally the textile industry is bouncing back post Covid 19. Job placements are picking up. Our graduates take up jobs in different roles like Fashion Designer, Fashion Illustrator, Fashion Forecaster, Brand Manager, Graphic Designer, UI/UX Designer etc. Industry is offering good salary packages. This year, we have already placed 50% of our Graduating Batch 2022 through Campus placement. The process of placement is going on.
GK: Out of 17 Campuses at all-India level where do you see NIFT Srinagar ?
Dir NIFT: Ours is an emerging Campus. Future looks bright and exciting. NIFT Srinagar shall be one of the largest Campuses we have on pan-India level. Students from other parts of the country have shown great interest in studying at NIFT Srinagar. With a culturally diverse cohort, students get a good opportunity for peer learning. It changes the perspective of life.
GK: Tell us about the global connect of NIFT?
Dir NIFT: NIFT, being in top league fashion & design schools of the world, is a value addition to the higher-education landscape of J&K. Through its international institutional linkages, NIFT has a strong student exchange program, where students study part of their program at foreign institutions including at some of the leading fashion schools like FIT, New York, Swiss Textile College etc.
GK: Anything you would like to share with the youth of Kashmir?
Dir NIFT: I would say ‘world is much beyond conventional professions. Let us explore. Future belongs to creative people and anyone who has a bit of it and is interested in pursuing a career in fashion & apparels, please join us. We will ensure that you reach your destination.