Friday, March 23, 2012

Faculty salaries

From the chronicle

The latest project that looks at professorial paychecks shows that the United States lags behind Canada, India, Italy, and South Africa when it comes to the purchasing power of their salaries and academic fringe benefits, according to data compiled jointly by the Laboratory for Institutional Analysis from the Higher School of Economics in Moscow and the Boston College Center for International Higher Education.


Anonymous said...

This is good collection of data. But a list of sources where the data is obtained from will be useful. I think in India (please do correct me if am wrong) the data is biased towards Science and Technology institutes, like IISc and the IIT's.

I believe in the US its an average across all departments ranging from humanities, social studies to science. An average over on STEM (Science, Tech, Engg, and Mgmt) will probably yield higher averages in the states.


Dheeraj Sanghi said...

The PPP comparison has a limited value. It is irrelevant for this comparison. PPP is based on consumption of basket of goods by a poor person. Professors in India are in the top 1-2 percent of population. They don't just use public transportation or eat at road-side eateries, but they also have aspirations to own a car, and a bigger car than nano. They also would like to own an apartment, would like to go to a private hospital for medical treatment, etc., and when you look at such a basket of goods then one realizes that 1 USD in US is not equal to having 12-13 rupees in India, but to have the same level of comfort, you perhaps need 50 rupees.

Ankur Kulkarni said...

To add to the very valid points of Prof Sanghi, there is also the issue that salaries are uniform across individuals and there are hard upper bounds. This is *despite* the PPP equivalence. This means that in India, a mediocre faculty will earn above his worth and a star is earn below his worth. Therefore the salaries are attractive for the mediocre and repulsive for the outstanding.

I am reminded of this beautiful line from The Fountainhead that Ellsworth Toohey says -- "Don't set out to raze all shrines, you'll frighten men. Enshrine mediocrity, and the shrines are razed."

Anonymous said...

Prof. Giri has written about PPP before,


One argument is the PPP (purchase parity power). Assistant professor in India gets $1200 a month, so by PPP, it is nearly $6000 a month. PPP is based on a assorted variety of food, services and housing. The service component is extremely cheap and a professor can afford to have a driver for his car, have a maid and cook, which is impossible in the USA. On the other hand, the cost of food is not significantly different from the USA if one buys food and cooks. A cost of an independent house just outside IISc would cost you a crore of rupees ($250,000) and that is also similar to USA. Thus, one can have a driver, maid and cook but no house ! So, PPP arguments are flawed because the lifestyles in India and USA are different. One would probably stay in an 2-bedroom apartment and have a maid and cook rather than in a five bedroom independent house and have no help like in the USA.

Anonymous said...


The faculty salaries for humanities, social studies, science and engineering are all the same in India. Not in USA.


You are wrong. If you are a star, you will get the infosys prize (Rs. 50 lakhs) and you will have JC Bose, Bhatnagar and Welcome trust, which will add Rs. 60,000 per month to your salary.

vishu said...

@Prof Sanghi - very valid points.

@Ankur - Even merit based salary won't help to attract best talent, as Sanghi's comments make it clear, if we are really trying to aim for life style comfort of the US, or any western country. Because the salary structure has to go up in a revolutionary way, and thats not feasible.

Let us recognize that many Indian scientists who are in India value academic freedom, reduced funding pressure, being closer to family, and an interest to teach and do research India more than any money that US can offer. So its better to focus on how to improve overall environment through implementing relatively small measures such as improved bureaucracy, better start up grants, start up grants that allow you to hire personnel, more contingency money, better housing, etc. None of these are revolutionary, but I feel they can surely have positive impact. Many of these can be done at institutional levels and does not require govt do much. If I remember correctly, Giridhar made a similar point in this blog some time ago.

Ankur Kulkarni said...

I don't think US type lifestyle should be made into an aim. As Prof Sanghi, whatever aspirations a typical faculty has, he should be able to achieve them by being a faculty and showing adequate levels of performance at his primary job, including research, teaching, admin etc. Today we have some flexibility in earning, but it requires a faculty to be a part-time consultant, diluting his primary job.

A bound on pay effectively says "we don't want faculty with greater value than x" and conveys a very negative picture to a would-be star. Furthermore, while salaries come hard-coded on an offer letter, there is no hard assurance that there will be "no funding pressure" or a guarantee of "academic freedom". In accepting low salary for academic freedom, one is, in principle, accepting an empirical observation in exchange for a theoretical fact.

I know there are exceptions to all this and yet many faculty would join; I also fall into this category. But overall the macro-economic fundamentals of this arrangement are not right, which makes its sustainability quite suspect. Moreover there is ample empirical evidence that quality has not sustained in this arrangement.

Digbijoy Nath said...

Prof. Sanghi, just to add a lighter touch :-) -- in USA, we can't get even a cup of black coffee or tea at $1, anywhere. In India, actually there are a lot of places where I can have a nice cup of tea + a veg spring roll for Rs. 15 .. :-)

Of course, I am not saying salaries paid to professors in India are very high.. it is pretty less compared to what people in other professions with much less academic qualifications earn, but of course, the passion to devote to science, stay close to home, etc. as outlined above, far outweigh the higher pay-in-USA concept for many of us.

By the way, if one is single (say in late twenties or early thirties) and in academia in USA, with an average starting salary of say, ~ $ 75-85k (excluding consultancy etc.) in a low-cost-of-living city (Ann Arbor, Columbus, West Lafayette etc.), an asst. professor in a couple of years can actually buy a new BMW car worth ~ $ 40-50k :-) ...

Anonymous said...

"Today we have some flexibility in earning, but it requires a faculty to be a part-time consultant, diluting his primary job. "

Wrong. You can earn upwards of Rs. 7 lakhs if you do well in research. Refer to the comment of Anon@March 24, 2012 9:32 AM

Anonymous said...

> an asst. professor in a couple of years can actually
> buy a new BMW car worth ~ $ 40-50k

That is certainly feasible if the "single" assistant professor lives in a shared apartment on dal-chawal and curd-rice.

Digbijoy Nath said...

@ anon above: hahahahah're kidding, right ? I live from paycheck to paycheck...with $ 1600 per month, I eat three meals a day outside (literally) each meal ~ $7-12 - I NEVER cook at home :-) ...I pay $500 rent per month and still I manage well without taking any help from parents.

A very nice Single bedroom apartment in a scenic locality in Columbus for example, costs $700 per month three meals outside costs you ~ $1000 per month. What else ? If you're earning $85k per year, you save at least $3k per month a BMW in a year :-)

Vimal Mishra said...

First of all, the good thing to notice is that we all are always very interested in salary related issues. The other impression I get is-- even if we leave U.S. to join faculty position in India, we always think about the salary in terms of U.S. I graduated from Purdue and know that Assistant professors in that region (MidWest) do not earn 85 k per year. The salary is about $70-77k (you might want to check this in university's faculty salary database). The other things to be counted are: tax, medical insurance, mortgage, retirement contribution, plus other living expenses). So at the end, you can never save 50% of your gross salary in U.S. does not matter if you are an Assistant prof or full prof. When I was doing Ph.D, I used to think the same that during postdoc (with salary $55 k/year in Seattle in Midwest it is only about $40 k) I will save lot of money. That did not happen as you get more money, expenses go up.
In U.S., higher comfort is often achieved because both husband & wife earn. Mortgage for the big (5 bedroom) house is usually paid in 30 -35 years. Same for BMW car, people pay each month with some interest ( if you have a great credit history, you are lucky). Therefore, while considering salary and comfort, we need to consider all these factors.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the tax and FICA alone around 40% of the total gross salary?

Dr. Ajit R. Jadhav said...

I have often (though so far unsuccessfully) used the services of Indian matrimonials sites. The profiles come from both India and USA, and they often mention their own salaries as well as that of the expected spouse. (My experience is limited to men looking for women.)

Let us call the ratio of the salary in a nation of a professor to that of an otherwise matching matrimonial female prospect working in the software field (Microsoft, HP, fin. software cos, etc.) in that same nation, as the P/S (professor to software) ratio.

The P/S ratio for India is something like: 0.5 in the beginning to the mid-career years, and it gradually drops down to about 0.25 or less by the time the professor hits the age of 50+.

The P/S ratio values for US are: about 1.0 in the beginning to the mid-career years, and it gradually drops down to about 0.6 to 0.5 at the professor's age of 50+.

Clearly, the professor in India is at a significant disadvantage.

Another point. The earnings of a professor also begin about 5--10 years late, as compared to his prospects. This fact does adversely affect a professor's matrimonial (read: family life) prospects, esp. if he is a male.

Since most academic intellectuals these days are obdurate life-long (or, rather, until-death) feminists, such facts routinely get overlooked in the public discourse. They highlight only that women professor's issue of having to postpone having kids in getting tenure. It is obvious that such feminist professors (many of them males, of course) would overlook the male professors' problems. They would miss the fact that for almost 2 decades now, in India, most intelligent girls have been chasing only the CS/IT field. Intelligence does matter in life, including in general having a better EQ as well as having a successful family life. And yet, the P/S ratios are as above.

(BTW, there is no significant difference on this count in US/India).

This whole exercise might have seemed facetious but there are a lot of serious reasons to take it seriously. These are real people, talking honestly and seriously about their real family-life expectations, after factoring in everything that matters in life, in a way.

So, hope this helps.

Finally one point. Most IIXs (at least original 5 IITs + IISc + IUCAA etc.) offer physical environments that are not available even to 5-star hotels in those same cities. Full of greenery, for the most part peaceful, with the easy-going and admiring acceptance in/by the neighborhood. Take this point as a valid offset to sheer money calculations, or leave it.


Anonymous said...

@dheeraj sanghi

most profs/assistant profs can afford a car "bigger" than nano with a few years saving. they get a very decent sized apartment(which is almost unthinkable of in a city like mumbai, and tough to come by in metros like bengaluru,chennai,delhi,hyderabad).

major surgeries in private hospitals are insured by the government.

the owning a private apartment(big enough or nice enough) may not be accomplishable with the salary received, but profs enjoy other benefits like a green campus, very good gymkhanas, etc

Ankur Kulkarni said...

@Anon March 25, 2012 5:41 PM,

Are you at a faculty at an IIX? Dheeraj Sanghi has been a faculty at IITK for a long time.

Anonymous said...

What about "I live in a foreign country and, what-so-ever, I do not like it here because it is ultimately not my country. And I find nothing more respectable than being a faculty at IIX. So whatever you pay me as a salary is great enough because it fetching me the prestige and if you give me 10 times the salary to join an industry then also I wont go there". Does the discussion not end here if the so-call "faculty search committee" and "faculty selection committee" look at the candidate is his dedication and attitude for research. Prof Giridhar rides only an old bicycle not because he can not afford it. But simply because he likes the IISc lifestyle.

Ankur Kulkarni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I like some of the rather blunt views being posted in this discussion. However, I recommend that people (especially prospective Indian academics) post such statements anonymously since it may not be taken in the right spirit by everyone.

Honest, hard-working academics everywhere (not just those in India) resent the idea of outsiders openly taking potshots at their ivory tower. Academics tend to be a sensitive lot and you really don't want to make unnecessary comments that may come back later to bite you where the sun don't shine. Trust me, it is not really worth it unless one is really really keen on immortalizing the byproducts of their brain flatulence in Google's archives.

Anonymous said...

According to this article in
covering this recent survey on faculty salaries:

"Some Indian academics received a bonus for having a vasectomy or hysterectomy..."

Can anyone please confirm if there is any truth to this bizarre arrangement or did the study get this completely wrong.

Giri@iisc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Giri@iisc said...

Anon above:

This is not a bizarre rule. This is a government of India rule. All GoI employees, which also means IIX employees, get one extra increment if they undergo the operation.

See below:

As per the order by the Government of India. Clients undergoing Non Scalpel Vasectomy operation are entitled for 6(six) days of special casual leave.

Government servants having two or less children are entitled to get 1 special increment from the day of the Non Scalpel Vasectomy operations

In addition, they will be entitled to Rs. 1300


vishu said...

Here is a TED talk relevant to incentives and performance:

I am sure our policy makers will be very happy to see this!

Giri@iisc said...

"Don't be delusional. IISc is not Princeton of the the 1940s, which had von Neumann, Godel and Einstein under one roof and attracted graduate students like John Nash."

IISc may not have Godel or Einstein in faculty or Nash as graduate students, but some of us like what we are doing.

I get paid close to the median household income of USA ($50,000), and thus significantly higher than the median household income of India (Rs. 50,000).

All those who love batting need not become Sachin; all those who love singing need not become M.S.Subbalakshmi.

Success at the international level requires talent coupled with hard work and passion. Some of us may not have the former but have the latter.


Anonymous said...

very well said prof giri.

@ankur kulkarni

how does it matter whether i am a prof or not?? my mother is a government employee(although not a prof) and she and myself have undergone major operations in well known hospitals and have been covered by the government. so i am pretty sure that profs also will get medical reimbursement for major illnesses/surgeries at 'good' hospitals.

if ppp of Rs12-13/dollar doesn't satisfy some people even Rs 50 wouldn't. heck even Rs 500 wouldn't. i already said that profs may not be able to afford an apartment costing in excess of 1 crore with their current salaries, but they enjoy many other benefits. the most important being that THEY ARE DOING A JOB THAT THEY LOVE DOING!!

Anonymous said...

Prof. Giridhar: How did you arrive at a salary of $50,000 for professors?
Are you overestimating and what about tax?

Anonymous said...

Giri, very well said. It is hard for others to believe how much we like to do what we do and yet get paid well.


Giri@iisc said...

Basic + AGP = 66,000
DA @65% from 1.1.2012 = 42900
HRA @ 30% = 19800
TA @ 3200+DA = 3200*1.65 = 5280
Gross = 134000 per month

Gross = 16 lakhs per year

Add 12% for PF,
Rs. 5 lakhs for Bhatnagar and Swarnajayanthi, Rs 4 lakhs in consultancy

I have not added the gratuity, LTC for family, medical insurance in the best hospitals in Bangalore, free treatment for the family in the IISc health centre etc etc.

Thus, $50,000 is underestimating.

Median household income is always calculated without tax. One pays higher tax in US than in India.

iitmsriram said...

This is about the family planning incentive for GoI employees. The current official circular can be found at - after 6th pay commission, the incentive is not one increment but a flat sum varying from 210 to 1000 per month depending on grade pay. For full profs at IIX, the 1000 per month is applicable and for asst profs and asso profs, it is lower. The amount is fixed depending on the pay scale at the time of attaining eligibility and will remain fixed irrespective of subsequent promotions. And, the employee need not undergo the procedure, it is applicable even if the spouse does!

Anonymous said...


Is there an incentive for voluntary lobotomy as well? Given the number of people I see in the faculty club chatting their cups of coffee away for hours, sometimes I wonder...


Anonymous said...


I thought faculty club in IISc was the place of gossip and billiards.

BTW, provide us inside information as to how many coffees does Prof. Giri drink?

Anonymous said...

profs are paid almost Rs 18+ lakh per year and still some profs are quibbling that they are unable to buy a Tata Nano?

from what it looks like they can buy a 'Tata Nano' with just 2 months of savings.

and prof Giri has himself stated that they get medical insurance at top medical hospitals (private included!)

in fact their salaries are almost at par with IT salaries

Giri@iisc said...

No need to ask iisc_old_prof. I do not visit the faculty club and in the rare cases that I do, I drink buttermilk there !

Regarding salaries, the salary of 18-25 lakhs is for a professor and not for an assistant professor. I was recently offered 50 lakhs to take up an industry position in Bangalore, but I turned it down. I think industry jobs do pay much more (2-3 times) than a faculty salary but the lifestyles are not even comparable.


Anonymous said...

As many people have pointed out, in the STEM fields, Salaries in the US are typically higher than the rest of the world.. and in elite universities, sometimes SIGNIFICANTLY higher. No comparison, really.

Anonymous said...

sir, how come it is tough for IISc graduates from depts like materials, chemical, etc to earn even around 4-5 lakhs PA after ME, but you are able to earn 50 lakhs?(i know you are big shot but still asking, since you could shed some light if there are more jobs in these depts)

i'm assuming you got offered job in GE since no other company could pay that much. i think in depts like materials, chemical,etc government(i.e a prof job in an IIX) is paying much more than in private(am i correct?).(of course this does not hold for the electrical related branches)

Giri@iisc said...

First read my comment. I am not earning 50 lakhs, I was offered a job.

The normal pay for a good Ph.D with 15 years of good experience in industry is more than 40 lakhs. I have plenty of friends who work in chemical and material industry in Bangalore, who earn close to 75 lakhs per year. Come and meet them, we meet on Sunday morning..

You do not know the reality if you think GE pays a lot. My master's student has been recently placed in Shell. For a master's student with no experience, she is being paid 12 lakhs per year.

If you think in depts like materials, chemical,etc government(i.e a prof job in an IIX) is paying much more than in private, you are completely mistaken.

Welcome to reality.



Anonymous said...

thank you for that info sir. there has been posts from most students from IISc here that it would be tough to cross 4-5 LPA (i guess most of us were assuming with how much ever experience even after graduation).

i guess most people will be inspired to study in core areas like materials,mechanical,chemical apart from the 'circuit' branches if somewhat of a reasonable salary is assured (even 20+ LPA is not aspired for actually, just a decent enough amount would do).

thanks for the info. the other problem is most of us do not even know the names of the companies who could employ us after graduation. in fact in materials i can only think of GE, kennametal, apart from companies like TVS.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous April 4th, 2012.

As a masters student in IISc, you should be aware of the opportunities around you. If you have to succeed, the onus is on you to check the facts and figures and to network properly.
I am glad that you do not expect to be paid 20 lakh PA...keep your expectations reasonable and you will go a long way.
All the best!

Anonymous said...

I did my masters in IISc with Prof. Giridhar in 2004. I am now working in a private organization which pays me around 20 LPA.

5 LPA is the starting salary of a ME student. Prof. Giridhar is talking about salaries of Ph.D with 15 years of experience or Masters with 20 years of experience.

Masters with 10 years of experience will earn around 20-25 LPA in good organizations.

Anonymous said...

@ the above two posters

thanks for the info and the inspiration. problem is most of the non IIT undergrads(including NITians) are unaware of job prospects, fields of research because we aren't exposed to research at the undergrad level. free flow of information on these matters as has been initiated by Prof.Giridhar is always welcome and always helps the aspiring candidates to make career choices and in turn also helps institutes like IIT and the other research organisations to not only get 'Good' researchers but also ones who are committed and hopefully also honest.

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Shyam said...

Thanks a lot Giridhar for being so forthright about salary structures. It gives a great idea for PhDs who plan to join Indian institutes as faculty members.

I would like to ask you a question: Does the employment contract prohibit faculty members from participating in private tuition or other similar means of income? Say if he engages himself in JEE coaching, is there a conflict of interest with IITs which is a violation of code?

Also how about opening a small private venture as an entrepreneur? Fine as long as the institute knows about it?

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