Monday, August 17, 2009

Rankings of IIT/IISc

In the latest issue of Current Science, the director of NISCAIR, Dr. Gangan Prathap has written an article, Ranking of Indian engineering and technological institutes for their research performance during 1999–2008. Subsequently, two of my colleagues, Abi and Cogito Ergo Sum discuss the paper, especially on the quality of NITs and its comparison with IIT.

I feel to rank and compare institutions, one should compare similar institutions. For example, IISc is widely different from IITs because of the presence of departments in biology. Thus, papers from these biology departments should be removed when compared against IITs. Next, the number of faculty in all the institutions are not the same. IIT-KGP has much more faculty than IISc. In IISc, if you consider only teaching faculty and remove biological departments,the number of faculty is around 250.

As far as the NITs are concerned, its not just the number of faculty, but also the number of faculty who have PhDs from a "good" institution. In almost all places (except IITs/IISc), research is not required for promotion etc. However, the fault is not entirely with NITs or any other organization. A top NIT in chemical engineering had only 10 faculty on its rolls till recently. They offered 38 courses for the undergrad and postgrad program. Some of its faculty were involved in administration also and thus many faculty were teaching 5-6 courses a year. How can one do research even if one wants to?

Some posters have connected the research output to funding. Let me emphasize that except for the start up grant given to faculty in the first year, NO money for research is provided by IISc/IIT to its faculty to conduct research. Yes, there are centralized facilities (like TEM, computing etc) that have been established but these are initiatives by groups of faculty. Therefore, faculty have to go out to various governmental and non-governmental agencies and get funding for projects. This is mostly lacking in NITs. Many NITs have complex purchase procedures for buying any item above Rs. 5000. Therefore, even if faculty bring in money, spending it is not trivial.

Let us look at the doctoral output of these institutions. There are roughly 1000 engineering doctorates per year. Among them, 550 are from IIT/IISc. Even among the rest, if you remove the staff who are registered for Ph.D, the numbers for each NIT is abysmal. Research is normally done by graduate students. Many students who do not get admission to IIT go to NIT for their undergraduation. However, the same is not true for many postgraduate students. If they do not get admission in IIT/IISc, there prefer to go for a job in the industry and not go to NIT. Thus, you have a peculiar situation. The cutoff in terms of GATE percentile is 98+ for IIT/IISc while people with even 70 percentile do not want to join a NIT.

The same applies for faculty applicants.For example, the chemical engineering department in IISc receives 20-30 applicants per year and we select one at the most. The situation is similar in IITs. Even a new IIT received 60 applications in chemical engineering and they selected three. In IISERs, it is even worse. In the chemistry department of one IISER, they received 260 applications in that year and they selected four. Even though the press and faculty constantly talk about lack of doctoral students (our selection ratio for doctoral students is 10:1) and lack of faculty in IIT, what is meant is lack of "good" people. Many of these faculty applicants have Ph.D from either IIT/IISc/top 50 school in USA/Europe. When they are denied a faculty position in these places, they do not prefer to go to a NIT. There are exceptions in each case but they are few.

Why? Because the systems are not in place to do research at the same level as IIT. I do not think money alone (or funding alone) will solve the issue of research output. Systems like liberal purchase procedures, encouragement for faculty to do research, setting up of centralized facilities, attracting faculty from abroad to join NIT, sending faculty to international conferences, interaction with faculty from IIT/IISc etc. have to be put in place. All this will certainly improve quality of faculty and, once faculty are active in research, postgraduate students will come in large numbers to NITs. And until that happens research quality and quantity in NITs can not improve.


as said...

A technical question about the number of faculty candidates: What percentage of faculty candidates to IISc/IIT have doctoral degrees from Top 50 US/Europe/IISc/IITs?

Giri@iisc said...

more than 80%

Anonymous said...

Very nice post, Prof. Madras!

Looking at the p-index, I was wondering if we did a similar calculation for MIT/Stanford, one second tier US university and one 3rd tier US university, what would be the values.

In terms of publication/citation alone, it helps to find out how IISc compares with the best in the world.

I am guessing that Stanford is probably in the 90's while a 2nd tier US university would be in the 70's. What do you think?


Giri@iisc said...

comparison of different universities with widely varying faculty numbers is not useful. look at the following paper that discusses more intensive papers, citations per faculty an publications per faculty

as said...

Thanks for the quick reply. Your numbers suggest that 16-24 folks with degrees from good graduate programs apply, but only few among them are capable of becoming top notch faculty?

Rainbow Scientist said...

This is quite interesting and informative post. In my opinion all these rankling should be taken only for guiding purpose, nevertheless it gives clear idea of where we stand in terms of scientific output.

Giri@iisc said...

Dear AS,

You have misunderstood. The rest of the faculty applicants are also suitable but there are no vacancies.

Take a typical scenario. A big department in IIT has 35 faculty. Because a faculty spends 35 years after he joins till retirement, you can recruit only 1 faculty per year only to maintain the strength. However, the number of applicants are too high compared to this.

Take chemical engineering. The total number of vacancies in all old IITs and IISc can not exceed 10 in any year. But the number of applicants are much higher. Most of the applicants who do not make it go to industry and not to a NIT.



as said...

Dear Giridhar

Thanks for the clarification. I was misled by the news reports in newspapers which seem to periodically mention that 20-30% of faculty positions at IITs are vacant. What are they talking about?

gs said...

AS, you have a point :-)

karatalaamalaka said...

Dear Professor Madras,

This is a great article. I did my undergraduate in the NIT Karnataka Surathkal, and am currently doing graduate studies at Penn State. It is true to a large extent that NITs are getting a raw deal in terms of the competence of those applying for faculty positions. The more surprising fact is that even the competent faculty in an NIT are not given sufficient incentive to do research. This is due to the the absence of an environment that rewards and fosters research. From what I had seen, the main rewards for research- tenure, promotions and raises were not decided by the competence of a faculty to do research. Often, seniority, and other extraneous factors had a major role to play in awarding promotions to faculty members. There was an incident, which, most people associated with NIT-K are familiar with, in which, a faculty who had consistently delivered in terms of quality research, teaching and in mentoring students, was repeatedly denied promotion. The attrition rate of competent faculty was high in the 4 years I was associated with NIT-K. In a department like Electrical Engineering, which, typically has a high student enrollment, 3 of the 7 professors in EE and ECE departments left the college. It is disheartening to note that these 3 professors were among the more competent, in terms of research output.

Symbolic of how important research is in the NITs, is the fact (as I pointed out in the nanopolitan blog), is the fact that the director of one of the NITs was himself guilty of plagiarism in one instance. The plagiarism is described in the editorial that can be found at this Link link

One of the common comparisons these days is India vs. China. In China, a second tier university such as Beihang University in Beijing has a faculty strength of 3300 in engineering, with about 11000 graduate students and a similar number of undergraduate students.

In the larger scheme of things, the result of this is that India's performance in research is far below its potential. I think it is very important for the Indian Government to take drastic measures to improve research in NITs. Having been through two systems as a student- a good engineering school in the US and the NITs, I believe that the need of the hour is a sweeping reform of the existing system.

I feel that there is no necessity for the government to brand universities as IITs and NITs and give preferential treatment to one set, while deliberately keeping the NITs as second strung universities. I say this in light of the recent creation of several new IITs, when in fact, the focus could have been to reform the existing NIT system.

Why should the government, which has sufficient resources impose a heirarchical caste system on the universities it creates? Have 50 IITs instead of 15 IITs and 20 NITs. Give all of them equal resources and opportunities and let them, by virtue of the competence of its students and faculty, succeed or fail. Why doom 20 institutes by making them NITs and allocating disproportionately lesser resources?

Anonymous said...

The general feeling in MHRD is that NITs are beyond reform and can not be reformed. The original plan was to turn some star NITs into IITs but it was shelved after the IIT-Roorkee experience. That experience showed that the standards of administrative remained in the old mentality despite money and other facilities. This is especially correct in a system where old people with old mentalities that want the status quo make decisions.


Anonymous said...

If you do get sufficient applications for faculty, why is there a shortage in IIT ?

Ajay said...

I definitely agree with what you say about the state of NIT's. But I also believe that the faculty should come out as "one cohesive unit" and ask for facilities and improvements. I do not think any government would shower the facilities unless the faculty show promise towards utilizing them fruitfully.

From my experience at NITK (which is regarded as one of the best NIT's to go to), I have never seen the faculty as one cohesive unit on such issues. They are divided on trivial lines of linguistics etc.

In the recent past, such attitude has led to the resignation of a lot of promising senior faculty members from the institute. One of them sent out his resignation letter to all his students and the content was very disappointing. I personally think there isn't a critical mass of faculty who want to change things!

I think there also needs to be a change in the internal thinking of faculty at NIT's along with change in the attitude of MHRD towards these institutes if any meaningful research is to be expected.

Alok said...

Dear Sir,
I appreciate if you bring out a consolidated list showing the research output of overall top 25 institutes which include IITs/ NITs/IIITs/ IIIMs and Universities. I am sure some Universities will also be there.

Anonymous said...

Presenting papers is very wrong critira because paper which are approved by IIT/IISc prof get easly publised where as for the unkown prof papers are not publish.

As per IEEE there are 98% paper which are non producive only very less paper are usefull.

I am surprise there is no vison clear vision in our top level proffs!!!!!!!

our critera must be on the base of how much benifit any university did to the country (only INDIA not USA or any other country).
How many new companies IIT/IISc/ other collage have floated in the country?

only reading a publisibing the papers are very bad critiera.

See the example of NUS (National University of Singapore)

We should not run on the tags: like IITS or IISc. We should run behing the beifites of the country.

We should not follow west we should have our own vision for the country.
We are not slave of USA or any country we should have our independent views for our country and its people.

Please go and check the course matterial which our proffs teach.
They are teaching the history not the present technology.

Alok said...

Have a look at this report available from the office of Principal Scientific Advisor of GOI. One of the authors of this report is same as the one who ranked IIT/IISc. Specially look at page 69 of this report which is an eye-opener. It says that some universities are doing better quality research than IITs/IISc

Anonymous said...

wht is going on here.......
i mean... having been thru iit kgp for my ug and sloan for masters....all i knw is that ...NITs suck...not because the faculty is bad or smthing (though that very well may be as well)...its because the general quality level of an NIT student....they are well below the standards of a minimum inteliigence and aptitude requirement for the most basic research ...(except few exceptions..and i mean..very few) it theoretical or indutrial research!!! guys...all i wana that if u really wanna bring a turnaround in the currently messed up state of research in India...u gotta overhaul the entire system (lest the iits and iisc s)...and build them up frm scratch...infact...iits too hav to be reformed and bring up to the level of iisc...(iits harness students that r way better in qualitative talent and performance potential terms than iisc...but research aptitude of iisc is way better...primarily coz of thier pro-research orientation..and iits' pro-industrial bias)

will be back soon with a pic said...

I dont agree with this dude who did his ug frm iit-kgp.He sounds bit baised and pretentious.Can he tell me how much percentage of these iitians who has done their ug in iit will go for phd???

They are all waste of nations money..They get into iit and think they acheived gold in in olympics for india...truth is compare iit with 2nd tier universities in the world..u realise where u stand..

Anonymous said...

I would only like to say that IIT and IISc cannot be any different from NIT as far as the faculty scales are concerned.
They are also getting good students now. ( at least few of the top NITS).
tHE IN'FRA STRUCTURE in IIts and IIsc is far too good than NITs in general ( be it hostel or computing or faculy quarters; or libraries); If some body prefers joining an IIT/IIsc for enhancing their research and dealing with "better" srudents as some one is pointing out let them compete and join . why should they be provided with better scale and more money than NIT. By this we are creating super castes within the society. provide incentives for better performance. not scale.
if the IIt professors feel they can do better let them start a private university ( like Stanford, etc) and try to market themselves. why should they harp on the government.

It is very clear that they dont want to risk themselves on such things because they know their own faculty cannot sustain high standards. S
ummarizing, IIT professors are there looking great because of highly competetive JEE which fetches them young performing students. Naturally, any investor knows when you buy expensive equipments you can manufacture "high quality" products but the cost is also very high. IIT students knwo about the hypocrisy of IIT professors.

Modern quality is defined as production of high quality product at low cost.

I believe that NITs are the best bet on this. They should be encoraged and not demoralise them by saying that their professors are inferior to IITs etc.

Do provide better facilities to the Insttitutions for better working conditions at different Institutions but dont put down an entire bunch amongst the technical institutions of national importance.
Especially when the selection procedure for students is unbiased in these places.

In this country We should support trust and honesty because it is very much missing in many public transactions.

For example in sevral states there are private collegs which sell seats but ARE THEY GOING TO HELP?
But they also pay ( some of them) very well. Even some former IIT professors are .. making millions (crores) from such institutions.

The IIt faculty cribbing unnecsaarily. They are getting paid very well.

Academics is all about good students which they have in plenty. they should be happy and thank god for that.

Anonymous said...

IITs are mere non-sense and fake. It does not have any credibility now barring their Pan-IIT bubble, which will burst. If you atke all IIM's for the past 5 years, the number students from NIT's more or less beaten the record. 22% of students are from NIT vs marginaldifference of 31% from IITs in IIM Bangalore.

IIM ahmedabad traditionally have larger amount of NITs.

Secondly, Mr.Madras is just boasting himself and barking on the wrong tree.

NIts had produced far far better graduates who done very well in Us,around the globe and India as well.

10%of companies in silicon valley has NItian.

The weakness of NIT is joining force. This has been done successfully by the rivals.

Prof.Ashok of Chennai IIT says that most of the faculty do not deserve the comforts and misusing the autonomy. some work for 14 hrs and some do not work at all. They get 120 -180 crores from the government, which they don't deserve even 30% of it. Acc to him, who is a full time professor says that they cannot meet their requirement even they raise the fees to 6 lacks per student. In that case, I will really think of their quality. Even it will not meet any of their luxurious expenses.

Cromptroller controller of auit general is also saying that they are big waste.

unfortunately, they are institute of first national importance and also media important, so they will need to be supported.

They and the government are responsible of developing caste in academics that comptitive eco system.

we have excellent institutes in public and private,I think Kapil sibal will able todevelop competitive econ system

What Mr. Madras is saying the IIT need to atrat best students and faculty ,others need not. Any higher education will become better only when they have criticl mass of cometitive eco system.

Or if they don't fund even more that IIT to NITs ,whic are goverened by NIT act, it is big shame on the parliament and biggest shame on HRD department.

To doom ro give run fo r the money they are going to spend in NIT and IIT ,it is only HRD need to ask themselfves.

I think NITs iwll come glorious if HRD is not meesing up thing.

BTW, alumni of both NIT and IIT is not contributing like MIT alumni. So they should shut-up unlsee they contribute.

In the coming time, IIT will be marginalised as they are too many among them and tremendous competition from others.

BTW, why IISc should be given 100 to 200 crores than NIT as IISc does not come under the banner of INI or there is no act enabled by the parliament. It is just deemed university.

It should be in the same scale of IIM's IIIT etc not with IITs or NITs.

As per HRD , the INI's are NIT and IITs only under HRD.

IISER's are mere clones of NIT as it is in the amended act.

Plagiarism:- Don't worry, the same professors of IITs highlighted about plagiarism in IITs rampant in 70's. There is one senior prof from IIMB asked to go due to heavy plagiarism. It is all different. Anyone doubts or errs ,law is there to ooze them out.

MIT, you an find many discrepencies, that will not mean MIT is bad.

BTW, HRD is forging research alliance between NIT and MIT.

Happy days ahead fellow NITians.....


Ranjan said...

Sir I am a student at NIT Warangal.
I believe whatever you have said about the quantity and quality of faculty at NITs9 even the top ranking ones) and the reasons behind them and solutions are nothing but the truth
You echo our own views,and we do hope that measures are taken the correct direction and taken soon!

Sri said...

This is a good read.
I wish to express a few comments;
1. Lets not compare IISc with IITs (forget about NITs). IISc is in a different league and is for a different purpose. IITs are probably good only for undergraduate teaching. Many IIT faculties have domestic PhD degree (not saying good or bad), particulalry the newer ones. The newer IITs instead of enhancing the standards are actually degrading. I am surprised and wondering why cannot they model it like IISc or to west. May be lot of politics.

2. I am sorry but even IISc ranking and resaerch output is probably similar or poorer than many 2nd grade US/EU universities. (please refer to ARWRU rankings).

The standards and rankings need to be improved significantly (rather than bragging about it) so that it can be compared to grade 1 universities in US/EU. It obviously needs a lot of work including administrative policy chnages.

However, not sure will it ever happen!

Disclaimer: I am not from IISc/IIT/NIT.

Surender said...

I have been to IIT Roorkee for my academics in past and currently enrolled in IIT Bombay. i have also got an opportunity to interact with students and few faculty from IISC. IIT's undoubtedly have a very good ecosystem for overall growth and have highly talented pool of students and faculty yet, i request not to just compare IITs and IISC with out actually knowing about them (especially IISC). IISC is a research university/institute of excellence and no other indian institute or university can match it for research. Before simply commenting about IISC , take an example of a centre like Centre for Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (, see its research focus and output, you get here a small flavour of what IISC stands for. In my opinion IITs and IISc(ers) should have more autonomy and structures for genuine research. i dont think iam yet qualified enough to say what IITB and IISC should aim for but would definitely like to see new IITs, NITs,IIITs trying to reach the standards of IITB and central as well as state universities reaching the standards of IISC in every respect. my final piece of advise for aspiring students is dont be like sheep following sheep. i mean one should not set their ultimate goal as "getting in to IITs", as that might satisfy ur and ur family false egos but will not make a good Engineer/scientist out of you. Have love towards a subject and follow it where ever that path leads to with unrelenting efforts. All the best Guys.