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Why are the IITs Losing their Global Ranking

I am a graduate from IIT Kanpur. Every year whenever the world college rankings are announced, I carefully scan those in order to know the current ranking of my college, also in a hope that someday I’ll see it at the top. But to my surprise, my college is losing its ranking year by year.

I studied so hard that I sacrificed almost all the fun of my teenage. I didn’t watch enough movies (in cinema halls), never even thought about having a girlfriend and surrounded myself with big fat books like Mathematics by R.D. Sharma while other guys of my age were enjoying other varieties of movies and books. And then months of anxiety awaiting results, I could get into IIT.

The entrance exam is so tough that cracking that exam is like melting down 10 kg dumbbell. So how can colleges like IITs lose their ranking? Then I realized that it’s not only the case with IITs but with every reputed Indian Universities.




How are the rankings given?
To understand the reason behind this downfall we have to first understand the way ranks are given to different college and universities. Although there are many ranking systems available like ARWU (Academic Ranking of World Universities), THE (Times Higher Education World University Ranking) and QS World University Rankings but I’ll only discuss the QS system which is arguably the best ranking system.

QS System divides the weightage in to five following parts:

1. Academic peer review (weightage 40%)
This is the ranking given by students to the other colleges but not to their own. So this ranking signifies the popularity of a college in students.

2. Faculty student ratio (weightage 20%)
This signifies the teaching commitment.

3. Citation per faculty (weightage 20%)
Research papers published by per faculty member tell the competency of faculty.

4. Recruiter review (weightage 10%)
This ranking is given by recruiters who hire on a global or significant national scale.

5. International orientation (weightage 10%)
This tells the international popularity of particular college.
So how important is the entrance exam?
Now it’s very clear that entrance exam is not the basic criteria for a good ranking. The factors stated above play important role in ranking. And now we are in position to discuss why IITs are not securing good score in ranking.

Student-Faculty ratio:
Biggest problem IITs are facing is that they are suffering from poor student faculty ratio.  In year 2002-03 the faculty-student ratio was around 1:10.5 and 27% faculty positions were vacant. In year 2013-14 the faculty-student ration has now become 1:16.5 as opposed to proposed 1:10 and faculty shortage is now 41% for old IITs.

Year Faculty Allocated Vacant seats F/S ratio
02-03 3263 888(27%) 1: 10.5
13-14 5361 2198(41%) 1: 16.5

This faculty-student ratio is vital for maintaining the quality of education, an institute can provide. Any university without faculty, or a hospital without doctors! Faculty is needed to guide the students, encourage them to innovate and continuously evaluate them. Elizabeth Garue, the primary researcher on Project SAGE (a Project to investigate the wisdom of class size reduction) says, “There are indeed significant effects on student achievement related to reduced class sizes but the effort itself does not guarantee success without additional attention to teacher quality, increased funding, availability of necessary facilities, and community/district belief in the power of the reform.” So now we know that quality of faculty and funding are also important.

So why is quality falling?
But in present scenario, good teachers are not interested to teach in India because they can’t get good money and facilities for their research. Government only spend ~1-2% of GDP (approx. 10 billion dollar) on education which is peanut compared to developed countries like USA (around 7% of their GDP which is approx. 1200 billion dollar ). So they prefer to teach abroad.

In this situation if IITs do not hire new young professors then they will keep on suffering from low student-faculty ratio and if they hire in good numbers then it’s difficult to maintain the faculty quality, especially when there is scarcity of good young professors. This results to low citation per faculty in Indian universities. Without exceptional faculty, exceptional graduates can’t be created. And without exceptional graduates recruiters won’t have the feeling of WOW. Since everything is connected, so losing in one category results in low ranking in every category.  Sadly lack in focus on education budget is responsible for this avalanche breakdown.

However the seats in the IITs are increasing
In past years government has increased the seats and no of IITs but not the budget in that proportion. And because of that these colleges are suffering. IITs were founded with the idea that exceptional facilities will be provided to the extra-ordinary students so that India can excel in field of technology. But politics of votes made government lose its focus.

Are IITs only job creators or also institutes of innovation?
Students see IITs as a guarantee of job. They are not interested in innovation and honing their skills.

I believe reasons above are enough to justify the decline in ranking. But the story doesn’t end here. If you look at the broader picture and see overall education quality of our nation then you will find that we stand nowhere. The study, National Employability Report-Graduates 2013, conducted by Aspiring Minds (a company involved in assessing various aspects of education, training and employment) reveals that nearly half of Indian graduates are not fit to be hired.” This is the condition of the country which boast to produce 50 Lakhs graduate every year

China, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore
While other developing Asian countries are heavily investing and improving in field of education. Especially China and South Korea, both who have improved a lot. We are losing our grip on quality education and other countries are rapidly going ahead. So this makes the situation even worse.

Without good higher education system our nation cannot sustain economic growth. And if we really want to see our country developed then the first thing we’ll have to do is focus on our education system. It is our survival.

What kind of research is needed
We really need colleges like IITs to do research on Nuclear Energy and alternate energy. Because power is one of the major factor which dictates the development of any country. With sufficient power we can reduce the oil import and save the fall of our currency. Metallurgy and materials is one more key area where we have to focus in research. It will enable us to make superior products and establish us as technologically advanced country. Also it will increase our export and dollar reserve. Our dependency on foreign technology will come down. Instead of being categorized as cheap labour we’ll become the leader of the world.

To achieve this aim, The Indian government will have to invest in education. So that good faculty can be retained in India. And students will also have to understand their responsibilities. Instead of targeting for good job with big fat salary abroad, they will have to focus on contribution to nation’s development. So everyone’s effort is needed. Students, faculty and government will have to work together and  see, only development as their target.

We will again bring the time of Nalanda University which was the world’s number one university of its time. And I believe those days can be brought back once again.


Also read the IIT  special of Jammag!







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