Wednesday, January 21, 2009

IISc college

In an interesting article on IISER, Shobo Bhattacharya makes very valid points, most of which I agree with. However, when the discussion on IISc comes up, here is what he has to say,

Aware of this conundrum, the Planning Commission of India recommended recently that eminent research institutes like the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) embark upon undergraduate education by establishing, for example, a TIFR-College and an IISc-College. The idea has had little traction with institutes however and has produced additional skepticism. Some of the researchers are concerned that teaching duties will seriously impair their ability to conduct world-class research, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

The overwhelming evidence that teaching aids research is based on university systems in USA and elsewhere. It is a forgotten fact, however, that the tutorials and grading of assignments for the undergraduate courses in US are exclusively done by graduate students. The professors are hardly involved in these activities and this saves considerable time that can be devoted for research.

People who are favor of IISc college extensively argue that this will result in better graduate students doing doctorates in the country. Institutes like IITs, where faculty are involved both in undergraduate teaching as well as research, find that practically none of their undergraduate students go on to do a doctorate in India. Therefore, if IISc starts an IISc college dedicated for undergraduate teaching (which I think it will) and all the active research faculty teach in this college, how many of these students will go on to pursue a doctorate in India? My guess is less than 5%. Therefore, the input quality of graduate students to IISc will largely remain the same even if IISc and TIFR open colleges.

8 comments:

DP said...

Dear Sir,

I am an ex-student of IISc and read your blog with great interest.

I agree with your observations that tutorials and grading of assignments are done by the graduate students in the US universities.

However, I would like to point out that in Oxford and Cambridge the teaching faculty of the university (including full professors) need to do undergraduate supervisions (grading +tutorials) in colleges. This is in addition to whatever teaching requirements they may have in the university.

Supervisions are done in small groups of two or three students and takes up several hours every week during term time. The undergraduate labs are separate from the research labs and are very well equipped.

It is a system that seems to have blended teaching with research very well in these two universities. The standard of the undergraduates here are very good and many of them go on to do PhDs in the same universities or in the US. Perhaps this is another model we might consider when we discuss integrating undergraduate education with research institutes in India?

Best regards.

Giri@iisc said...

Dear DP,

Thanks for your comment. My point was, even if the facilities are good, most good undergraduates do not continue to do a Ph.D in India. As a specific example, look at IITs, where undergraduate education is integrated with research.

Thanks

Giridhar

Anonymous said...

Prof. Giridhar:

"It is a forgotten fact, however, that the tutorials and grading of assignments for the undergraduate courses in US are exclusively done by graduate students." - Very valid point, well said agree with you completely. Dare I make a correction: In the US, turorials, grading of assignments for UG courses and most importantly, MOST RESEARCH are actually done by grad students. Probably the most exploitative edu. system devised anywhere in the world. Where else can you see professors who claim to have 300 pubs. at the same time actively pursuing other interests like skiing, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, traveling, movies.. you name it. Lost all respect after seeing things firsthand - profs in India with 50 papers deserve more respect than those with 500 in US.(There are exceptions - but it is the general picture)

Most US based Indian Intellects conveniently forget this aspect while offering generous suggestions to their counterparts in IITs - with an air of superiority - on how to improve research.

vituljain said...

sir i'm a bsc biotech student in my final year
i want integrated phd entrance exam pattern and previous year papers
can you help me out
thanking you
with regards
vitul jain

vituljain said...

are papers available in iisc library

Giri@iisc said...

Dear vitul jain:

I do not have access to old examination papers. Sorry.

Thanks

Giridhar

Tarun said...

Pointwise,

1. "It is a forgotten fact, however, that the tutorials and grading of assignments for the undergraduate courses in US are exclusively done by graduate students."

So why can't same be implemented in India too? I think it is a pity that grad. students in India don't get enough experience in teaching.

2. "Institutes like IITs, where faculty are involved both in undergraduate teaching as well as research, find that practically none of their undergraduate students go on to do a doctorate in India."

-I would love to see data of percentage of IIT undergrads staying in India to pursue PhD as function of time. Just based on whatever I have seen personally, this no. is most certainly increasing. And I would tend to believe that at least one reason for this is that undergrad students now get more research opportunities (ala UROP in USA). Obviously, undergrads who would have the fortune of being student at a research student would get MUCH more opportunities than those who are not.

-More succinctly, if I am an undergrad interested in becoming a scientist someday, why shouldn't I have enough colleges in India itself where I could get to get first hand research experience?

By not having IISc-college, IMHO we are depriving a huge pool in future scientists from bringing their potential to a logical conclusion.

3. "how many of these students will go on to pursue a doctorate in India?"

I think it is a moot question. If I have two options: not providing even a good opportunity/reason for these
students to stay in India (by not having something like an IISc college) Vs just the opposite with the caveat that many of those might leave India for PhD, which one sounds more logical?

Isn't providing support to budding scientists of utmost importance irrespective of where they may choose (it's their life!) to do their PhD's??

If our research facilities and faculty were really good then why would most of them ever leave? They are just worrying about their carriers as much as I and you do and not hell bent on harming India intentionally or something like that.

College Research Paper said...

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