Thursday, May 30, 2013

University Rankings

I recently attended a planning commission meeting where the issue of rankings of Indian universities was discussed. One thing was apparent: many members of HRD and planning commission were serious and wanted to do something. As Professor Balaram points out, if one is serious about playing the game, it is better that one learns the rules of the game. Unfortunately, many players of this game (MHRD, faculty in institutions, policy makers etc.) seem to be oblivous to the parameters involved in the rankings and thus are unaware of the rules under which the game is played. Further, this game, unlike others, may be much harder to fix.

For an institution to rise up the rankings, individual performance and excellence should be recognized, appreciated and (maybe) rewarded at the institutional level. Currently, it is not and I do not see the situation changing soon even in premier institutions.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

IISc admissions

Please read this post and comments before posting.

For the research (Ph.D/M.Sc) program, interview letters were posted on the website on May 10, interviews are from 1 June to 7 June and offer letters will be online on June 15. 

For the UG program, the first round of offers based on KVPY was made on May 8 and the second round of offers based on JEE will be made later. The first counselling will be on May 24 followed by the next in the last week of June.

I have received enquires about the 30-40% reduction in research admissions to IISc this year. While this has been attributed to the lack of hostel accommodation, IISc has maintained the ME numbers and even operated waiting lists to fill up the ME quota. Therefore, I do not think this is a hostel problem but more of a policy decision to admit less doctoral students this year. I only execute matters as an administrator and do not interfere in policy matters. Bottom line: Do not ask me about this.

The research interviews are conducted differently in each department and it is difficult to generalize. Some departments have two rounds of interviews, some have a written test followed by an interview. Many interview committees will ask you two or three subjects that you liked in your undergraduation and ask you several questions based on that subjects. The emphasis will be on testing the depth of candidate’s understanding of fundamental concepts. Never attempt to answer questions in which you do not know the correct answer. It is okay to say that you have never heard of such a principle or law. Because the emphasis is on fundamentals rather on memory, it will be always be appreciated if the student says that he can derive the equation but can not recall it from memory. For Ph.D students, expect some questions on the project done during the masters. The problems you faced executing the projects, the principles you learned in that project and how you think the project helped you overall.

Post queries here and they will be answered, if possible.