Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ

General Questions

Does the university provide support for faculty research? What about external funding?

Ashoka provides substantial internal seed funding for faculty research along with excellent logistical support for external grants. Reasonable research expenses such as conference fees, travel, etc., are fully funded through annual faculty research grants.

Our annual faculty research grants come with very few strings attached, and are open for use in attacking long-term open problems, or nontraditional/interdisciplinary questions. A number of centres also exist to fund research work in interdisciplinary areas or for social good.

How are PhD students funded?

PhD students are guaranteed funding by the university as long as they remain in good academic standing. Large numbers of departmental slots are made available each year: in short, unlike many other places, it is not necessary for the faculty to find grants all the time to support their PhD students. Of course, should there be such a grant, student funding can be reassigned, which can mean a higher salary (already competitive) for the student.

Why should I join Ashoka? What’s the big deal compared to joining any other premier institute in India?

Having already built a name for itself in the humanities and social sciences, Ashoka is now poised to grow massively in the sciences, with a focus on leveraging its current expertise to engender and address new research challenges and initiatives. We have great ambitions, including building a School of Computing with bridges to other disciplines.

Computer Science at Ashoka provides unique opportunities for the cross-pollination of ideas across silos to explore both core CS and nontraditional, niche areas. We seek to engage deeply with the sciences and social sciences – beyond mere data analysis and simulation – to facilitate high-quality interdisciplinary research. In line with the digitization initiative of the Indian government, and increased digital engagement in social, economic, and political spaces, we hope to leverage Ashoka’s demonstrated strengths to explore new realms. Our commitment towards solving issues with real-world impact – in both core and interdisciplinary areas – is backed by multiple centres to facilitate funding and collaborations for such research.

How far is Ashoka from New Delhi?

It takes around 1hr 30-45min to reach Ashoka from the Delhi airport. Travelling from central Delhi takes about 1hr 15-30min (of course, this may be more depending upon traffic). Many professors commute from Delhi. A free Ashoka shuttle bus operates regularly between campus and the Jahangirpuri Metro Station in north Delhi.

What’s the culture like?

We’ve worked hard to create a university that believes in the freedom of speech and open inquiry, along with respect for nontraditional areas of research. The creation and dissemination of knowledge necessitates the asking of difficult questions, and we provide an open platform for the same. Further, our students and faculty share a deep commitment towards research that improves human life, and we strongly encourage (and actively fund) such explorations.

Recruitment and Promotions

What positions are available?

We are hiring at all levels.

What are the eligibility criteria?

Applicants must have an earned Ph.D. (post-doctoral experience is desirable, but not necessary) and must possess excellent academic, publishing credentials as well as exceptional teaching abilities and be excited with the diversity and the interdisciplinary collaboration opportunities of the academic community at Ashoka. Academicians, practitioners and researchers specializing in Machine Learning, Computer Vision, Natural Language Processing, Security, and Systems are especially encouraged to apply. We also invite established senior researchers, practitioners and academicians to get engaged with us as non-resident or visiting faculty

We strongly encourage applications from women and members of other groups under-represented in academia.

What are the deadlines? How early (before my intended start date) should I apply?

Faculty applications are rolling and not linked to semesters, so you can apply anytime. Processing, interviews, and HR processes can take time, so we encourage you to apply at least 2 months before you plan to start.

How and where should I apply? What documentation is required?

Candidates should submit a cover letter, a detailed curriculum vitae, research and teaching statements, and the names of at least 3 references through facultypositions.ashoka.edu.in.

Do I need to give a job talk? What are the expectations?

Yes. Candidates are expected to give two talks: a teaching talk and a research presentation. Both are regularly heavily attended by students (and of course, the professors are always present). These are usually hour-long, including Q&A. The talks are followed by short one-on-one interactions with the faculty.

How does a typical career progression path look like at Ashoka? What are the criteria for RPT (retention/promotion/tenure) at various levels? What about sabbaticals?

This is covered in great detail in the Faculty Policies handbook. In short, the process is quite standard and similar to what happens in most universities across the world.

What is the timeline after I apply? How long will it take the university to accept/reject my offer? How long will I have to decide on the offer?

Usually, it takes 1-2 months after you apply for a decision letter to reach you. Decision times etc. are negotiated — we try not to be manipulative/forceful about these things!

Will there be employment opportunities for my partner/spouse? Are there “double” hirings?

Yes, we do our best to solve the two-body problem. Of course, these must be handled on a case-by-case basis, depending upon the exact circumstances. However, we’ve gotten very good at handling these things, and we’re happy to discuss ways to move forward. Please do feel free to get in touch with us at cs.next@ashoka.edu.in.

Teaching

What are the basic teaching responsibilities? How many courses will I have to teach per year? What is the balance between undergraduate / graduate courses that I have to teach?

Professors are given a lot of freedom in deciding what courses they teach, and most end up with a mix of small upper level courses and one or two early-year cohorts. We have fairly reasonable courseloads, and, at least in CS, we are moving towards a 1+2 load with one of those being a research-focused course.

We don’t force people to teach courses they don’t want to teach — we believe that inevitably results in substandard pedagogy.

How big are typical classes? What support will I have when I am teaching those classes?

Early-year CS courses can have 1-200 students. Advanced, later year courses can be very small (5-10 students). Most courses end up being around 40-80.

As is usual, the university provides teaching assistantships, with more positions as the course size (and load) grows. These can be negotiated with the department head, but the default numbers are usually very reasonable.

Can I hire external TAs?

Yes. External teaching fellow positions are made available for many classes (above a minimum size), and these are very well paid positions.

How much flexibility will I have in designing curriculum/assessment mechanisms etc.? Can I teach joint courses?

Professors are given a lot of leeway in designing and assessing courses: after all, they are the experts, and are best positioned to understand the needs of the students. Of course, it is expected that they adhere to some basic policies (such as strong anti-plagiarism policies, not overworking students, etc.). Many professors teach joint courses, including across departments.

What teaching facilities are available? If I need extra equipment for a course, is there support for funding said equipment?

Ashoka provides top-notch teaching resources across the board, including well-equipped labs. Extra equipment can, of course, be requisitioned on a case-by-case basis.

Research

What are the basic research responsibilities?

We expect our faculty to be actively engaged in research (publishing papers, advising doctoral students, and attacking hard problems). Of course, exact output differs from subfield to subfield.

How do I go about hiring staff or PhD students?

All logistical processes are taken care of by the research office and HR. PhD students, as mentioned earlier, are supported by the university even if there is no external grant available to fund them. Staff, of course, have to be explicitly supported by an internal or external grant.

How will inter-departmental collaborations be facilitated? Are there separate grants or funding processes available for such collaborations?

Yes! Of course, depending upon the exact nature of the collaboration and funding requirements, different centres or departments may provide funding (in addition to facilitating external funding).

How do I apply for external grants? How is grant maintenance being done? Who do I need to coordinate with for maintaining grant related documents?

The research office actively coordinates with faculty to make the grant-application process as seamless as possible. They will help you frame your grant, provide financial estimates when needed, and quickly process any permissions that may be required.

What is the quality of UG students? Can they help out with my research?

Excellent. Our students regularly work with faculty on cutting edge research and publish in high-quality conferences. (We want to emphasise that we’re not talking about random/predatory venues, but top-notch international conferences.)

Are conference fees and travel expenses reimbursed by the university?

Yes, as long as they are reasonable, they are covered by the annual faculty grants. In special cases, such expenses may be negotiated with the department head.

Financial

Does the university directly provide research funding? What are the limitations on the usage for such grants?

Yes, including special startup grants given to new faculty. These grants are fairly string-free, and can be used to attack long-term or core, difficult questions that do not necessarily show dollar-value output.

What is the process for applying for internal grants?

This is mostly automatic; in special cases, additional funding can be negotiated for specific projects with the department head and university administration.

Are there university policies restricting the sources of external grants?

Generally, no. This is covered in the Faculty Policies handbook.

Can I hire PhD students without first having external funding? If so, what are the limitations on such recruitment?

Yes. This is limited by the department budget, and can be negotiated with the department head and university administration. The slots are usually quite reasonable in number, and it is extremely rare to not get a student one wishes to hire.

What kind of salary/benefits can I expect?

We offer extremely competitive salaries and benefits. This will be negotiated at the appropriate time in the selection process.

What kinds of other perks/benefits are available? (Medical/travel/etc.)

Ashoka provides excellent medical insurance, maternity and paternity leave, and other benefits.

We also have a standard sabbatical policy, at par with most international universities. More details are available in the Faculty Policies handbook.

What are the limitations on external consulting? What about involvement with external companies (e.g., startups)?

Many faculty do engage in external consulting/startups. This is allowed with permission from the university administration; it is expected that faculty inform and get approval from the Dean of Faculty before starting any such engagement.

How does the university deal with intellectual property? What about IP developed in-class, or by me outside of the university?

Our IP policies are fairly standard and covered in the Faculty Policies handbook.

Life at Ashoka

How are decisions regarding policy etc taken? How much of an impact would I have on departmental and university policy?

Ashoka makes a point of involving faculty at every level. We are a university of, by, and for faculty and students: we take great pains in making sure that all decision making processes are transparent and include input from all stakeholders.

How much is the administrative load for faculty? How many committees will I have to serve on? How will the university make sure that young faculty are not being burdened with administrivia at the expense of things that they do (research/teaching)?

Faculty are never forced into any committees — however, this train of thought is essentially complementary to the previous question about having an impact on departmental and university policy: skipping on committees usually means that one’s opinions on the subject are less likely to be heard!

What are the housing facilities like?

Ashoka provides excellent on-campus housing. There are a number of housing complexes within driving distance. A couple (Parker Residency and TDI) are served by a free Ashoka shuttle bus; there’s also a regular bus to Delhi, which stops at the Jahangirpuri Metro Station.

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