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NITs fast catching up with IITs

NITs fast catching up with IITs

Six years after their transformation (from being Regional Engineering Colleges) into National Institutes of Technology (NIT), the 20 NITs in the country have come a long way, catching up with the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) in terms of academic/ research performance, quality of faculty, infrastructure, administration, industry-institute interaction and future programmes.

There is little doubt that the newly-started 10 NITs would be in the same mould.

As RECs, the national institutions functioned as pace-setters, attracting the best students, appointing high-quality faculty, and providing the best undergraduate programmes. Research focus in RECs was addressed in 1996 by a High Power Review Committee chaired by Dr. R.A. Mashelkar. The committee came out with recommendations on governance structure, academic matters, faculty issues and staff development and funding issues.

The changes that have taken place following the implementation of the empowered review committee recommendations for RECs submitted in August 2000 by V.S. Pandey include declaration of RECs as deemed universities, reshaping the governance structure, re-activation of the advisory committee, change in funding pattern, designation of the Principal as Director, renaming RECs as NITs, reorientation of postgraduate programmes, REC-IIT networking, and review of the admission procedure.

As for the NIT-Tiruchi that offers nine B.Tech programmes and a B.Arch programme, several academic reforms have been introduced. The system of continuous assessment (two cycle tests: 20 mark each, three assignments for total 10 marks and an end semester exam for 50 marks), and relative grades system, similar to that in IIT-Madras are in place. A new lecture hall complex has made it easier for students of different departments to attend inter-disciplinary elective courses.

There are 22 postgraduate programmes, and students are admitted in the M.Tech programmes through GATE examination. Every year 45 Scholars are admitted for M.S. (Research) programme and 45 Scholars for the Ph.D programme.

Funds obtained through sponsored-projects increased phenomenally from Rs. 2.72 crore in 2006-07 to Rs. 5.1 crore in 2007-08 and Rs. 9.13 crore in 2008-09. In 2009-10, the funding was to the tune of Rs. 6 crore. The projects include four FIST programmes, and Indo-US, Indo-Australia, Indo-Brazil and Indo-U.K projects. Similarly consultancy projects increased from Rs. 58 lakh in 2007-08 to Rs. 1.29 crore in 2009-10. In 2009-10, 324 papers were presented in national and international conferences.

The upward swing in the performance has also reflected in the areas of the number of students going abroad for internship, extent of placement, and the number of Ph.D. degree awarded.

Under the Technical Education Quality Improvement Project (TEQIP) Phase - I, NITs have modernised their B.Tech laboratories with new equipment, and have created high-quality research environment. Among all the participating institutions, the highest score in TEQIP was received by the NIT-Tiruchi where all the postgraduate programmes have been accredited by the National Board of Accreditation.

Under the project, 85 faculty members visited universities abroad for a one-month training and 45 professors from other countries visited NIT-T for one to four weeks. New faculty members were mentored by senior professors from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and IIT-Madras. The number of faculty with Ph.D qualification is 160 out of 260 faculty members.

Thanks to the Ministry for Human Resource and Development for providing a faculty-to-student ratio of 1:12 in NITs, faculty members are able to find sufficient time to carry out quality research work. In fact, the ratio has to be made 1:10 as in IITs, what with the TEQIP Phase II due for start in August 2010, laying emphasis on postgraduate education and research culture. All postgraduate programmes are to be strengthened by new experimental and instrumental facility.

The research culture in NITs that started off in 2006 has gathered appreciable momentum, and the TEQIP Phase II has come in handy to bridge the gap between the IITs and NITs in postgraduate education and research culture. Yet, a few more steps are required at this juncture. There is NEED to encourage NITs by providing facility as in IITs.

A parity with IITs in terms of the extent of journals subscribed and flexible cadre structure (the Professor, Associate Professor and Assistant Professor ratio 1:2:4 in NITs should be done away with) has now become a vital necessity to mitigate difficulties in attracting good faculty.

These reforms have to be implemented to ensure uniformity in the quality of teaching and research in NITs and IITs.

NITs fast catching up with IITs

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