Friday, July 24, 2015

IIT-Hyderabad draws top rankers

Among the host of new Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) that have struggled to attract top rankers, there is an outlier --- IIT Hyderabad. Top rankers are choosing this seven-year-old IIT due to its innovative curriculum, freedom to do research right from the first year, and one of the best student-faculty ratios among all IITs. Above everything else, it offers a better placement ecosystem than most new IITs.

Started at the same time as eight other IITs (2008-09), IIT-Hyderabad is sprinting towards joining the league of old IITs. The number of top 1,000 rank holders joining IIT-Hyderabad has trebled to 20 this year from only seven last year. This is significant, considering the number of top 1,000 JEE rank-holding students has remained more-or less the same for older IITs like Roorkee and Kharagpur with 40 and 110 students, respectively .

Surya Teja (635th JEE advanced rank holder in 2013) and Goutham Veeramachaneni (632nd JEE advanced rank holder in 2014), both pursuing computer science, chose Hyderabad over older IITs like Kharagpur, Guwahati and Roorkee. Both wanted to be in a city --- close to the startup community and home to companies that promise good placement and internship opportunities. “I got through IIT-Bombay and Delhi but did not get computer science. Hence it had to be Hyderabad for me as I wanted to be close to startups,“ said Veeramachaneni, who intends to turn into an entrepreneur soon after graduation.

Being a small institute has helped students at Hyderabad build a close-knit network with peer and faculty. Teja was pulled towards this IIT primarily because of its faculty-student ratio at 1:12, better than almost all the IITs. Comparatively, the ratio at IIT-Delhi and Bombay is about 1:15. “Like most aspiring engineering students, I too did my homework and found that Hyderabad had the best faculty-student ratio. Also, Hyderabad is a bigger urban centre than Roorkee or Guwahati so the chances of getting good placement and internship offers are high,“ said Teja.

There are other factors. IIT-Hyderabad is gaining from proximity to the international airport besides a rise in supply of apartments to fulfil demand from professionals. “New organisations are setting up offices in Hyderabad. The surrounding ecosystem would enable these organisations to hire locally and attract students to settle in Hyderabad,“ said Ruchika Pal, India practice leader, global mobility at Mercer. Availability of housing, schooling and airport connectivity will enable these, she added.

Focused heavily on research, IIT-Hyderabad has been able to draw young faculty to its campus. P Rajalakshmi, who is in her 30s, hails from Tamil Nadu. She has a PhD in communication systems, and joined IIT-H in 2009. She is very clear she does not want move to any of the other IITs --- not even IIT-Madras.

“The research opportunities offered by IIT-Hyderabad are on par with any of the older IITs. Being a smaller IIT, the thrust and freedom in carrying out research is greater than old IITs,“ said Lakshmi. IIT-H has 110 laboratories, of which 50 are exclusively for research. IIT-Hyderabad has close to 150 faculty members (excluding the visiting and emeritus faculty) with a student strength of about 1,800.

“IIT-H has recruited good young faculty at a rapid rate and has started constructing the new campus. They have also innovated with the curriculum,“ said IIT-Madras Director, Bhaskar Ramamurthi, who is the mentor for IIT-H. Nearly 80% of faculty members have at least one sponsored research or consultancy project, added IIT-H Director, UB Desai. Till date, the institute has be en involved in 238 sponsored research and consultancy projects.“We believe we should do new things that older IITs are not doing; simultaneously, do well what the older IITs are doing,“ Desai added.

IIT-H is slowly moving up in terms of ranks too. “The opening rank of top 1,000 students in 2014 was 632 compared to this year opening rank of 534,“ Desai said. This young IIT has also structured its curriculum in such a way that it gives its students more choice. IIT-H offers what is known as `fractal academics' to all its BTech students. They are provided with more choices on topics they want to pursue outside their core area.

Working on the lines of the PM's Make in India initiative, the institute has started the first-of-its-kind DigiFab laboratory for 3D printing. “We are the only institute in India to offer this lab --- perhaps the only institution in the world to offer it to first-year students. The DigFab lab equips students with future manufacturing technology,“ said Desai.

Students at IIT-H can also pursue a double major, wherein they get a BTech degree in two disciplines. It also has a BTech in engineering science with a specialisation in any of its core areas. Under this, a student in the first two years does basic courses in math, physics, chemistry and the different fields of engineering. In the last two years, the student specialises in any field of his or her choice.

By August 2015, IIT-Hyderabad is targeting 500 PhD students, 450 MTech and MPhil students among others, besides approximately 900 BTech students.

Source: The Economic Times, July 24, 2015
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Thursday, July 09, 2015

IISc Bangalore ranks No. 5 in BRICS university standings

Indian Institute of Science, (IISc) Bangalore, has emerged No. 5 in a ranking of 404 universities in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) region. This is the first time any Indian educational institution has broken into the top 10 of the rankings published by London-based QS, previously known as Quacquarelli Symonds.

This is the first time IISc has submitted data for the QS ranking. In 2014, IISc did not formally provide the data, and was ranked 13. When a university does not provide data, QS sources data available from websites, employers and peers.


However, the clear leader in the QS BRICS university rankings, released in Delhi on Wednesday, is China. Tsinghua University, Peking University and Fudan University from India’s northern neighbour occupy the top three ranks in the QS survey. Russia’s Lomonosov Moscow State University is at No. 4, followed by IISc. In total, there are 110 Chinese universities among the top 400 and 67 among the top 200. For India, the corresponding numbers are 94 and 31.

“India has seen a rise of more than 50% in the number of institutions listed in the latest ranking of the top 200 universities in BRICS countries,” QS said in its ranking booklet. “The Indian Institute of Science has come straight into the ranking in the top five in the first year in which it has submitted a full set of data.”

“We are considered the best research-oriented university. It feels good to be in the top 10 list among BRICS universities, but we would like to be in the top 100 list of world university ranking,” said Govindan Rangarajan, chairman of division of interdisciplinary research at IISc.

Including IISc, there are five Indian institutions in the top 20. Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi is at the 13th rank, same as last year. IIT-Bombay, at 16th place, dropped one place from last year. IIT-Kanpur at 18th place and IIT-Madras at 20th place are the others in the top 20 of the rankings.

The University of Mumbai has made the maximum progress in the top 100 list. It jumped from 68th position last year to 58 this year. The University of Calicut progressed nearly 100 places to reach the 100-110 bracket from the previous 200-plus bracket. Similarly, Aligarh Muslim University and the National Institute of Technology, Rourkela, have made significant progress from the outside-200 list to 110-120. After ranking the top 100 institutions, QS gives ranking in brackets of 10.

Balvinder Shukla, vice-chancellor of privately run Amity University, said Indian universities can enter the top 200 list, provided they supply enough data to the ranking agency. Amity has been ranked in the 141-150 bracket, the same as last year. “Structured data supply, improvement in research papers, and its publication, are getting attention of academicians in India of late, and they have realized that by doing so, their own brand value will grow internationally,” she said.

Karthick Sridhar, vice-chairman of Indian Centre for Academic Rankings and Excellence, which helped QS in India in the ranking process, said more Indian universities participated in the ranking process this year and gave required information leading to better performance. “If the trend continues, then their ranking shall certainly improve in the world university rankings, but Indian universities need to better their performance in two key areas — academic reputation and employer reputation, other than research paper publications,” he said.

No Indian university features in the separate rankings of top 200 world universities, published by QS, or Times Higher Education, another international ranking agency in London

Source: Mint, July 9, 2015
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Monday, July 06, 2015

Australia’s fast-track residency is attracting Indian students

Australia is again emerging as a popular destination for Indian students going overseas for higher education with enrolments during the first four months this year having jumped to over 48,000 as compared to nearly 37,000 during the same period last year, according to official government figures released recently. India remains at second place after China in sending students to Australian universities.

The number of Indian students in Australia during January-April this year stood at 48,311 as compared to 36,964 during the same period last year. The sector where enrolments rose was higher education where the number was 25,439 as compared to 17,694 last year. Enrolments in the vocational education and training sector (VET) from India during the same period jumped from 16,772 last year to over 18,350 this year. “Australia offers a world-class, high-quality education for students across the world with eight Australian universities in the global top 100. Australia’s vocational education system is highly respected internationally, with close links to industry, and a high proportion of graduates gaining employment. Five Australian cities also make the top 30 student cities to live in in the world, so Indian students can enjoy the great lifestyle that Australia offers,” a spokesperson for the Australian high commission in Delhi said.

The 2014 International Student Survey in Australia found that over 88% of Indian students were satisfied with their overall education experience, above the average of students from other countries. “Indian students contribute to a vibrant and culturally-diverse Australia.

International education fosters inter-cultural understanding and creates the people-to-people links that underpin Australia’s research, trade, investment and social engagement with the world,” the Australian high commission spokesperson said.

The option of a fast track to permanent residence for international students is probably the most important reason for Indian students to choose Australia as a campus destination for higher studies. “After completion of studies, students can apply for subclass 485 visa category, which enables them to work in Australia full-time for a period of 18 months to four years (depending on which level of studies they have undertaken) along with an option of applying for permanent residency,” said Ravi Veeravalli, principal consultant, Star Global Education Alliance, a consultancy focused on Australian education and migration services. He added that India has been upgraded to assessment level 1 under the streamlined visa processing arrangements, which is another advantage. “This enables students to apply for a visa with lower requirements for evidence that needs to be shown such as eligible funds, eligible sponsors, etc. – this enables more students to apply to Australian universities,” he said.

Another advantage that Australia offers is the acceptance of partners / spouse of the student, allowing them to apply along with the primary applicant (main student). “It also enables the students’ partners to work in Australia,” Veeravalli said. The English language requirements (IELTS) for international students in Australia has also been relaxed by lowering the individual bands for each section from 6 to 5. However, the overall band should be 6.

Recently, Australia’s official migration trends for 2013-14 showed that India was the main source country for immigrants with 40,000 Indian nationals migrating to Australia in that period.

“A large number of preferred occupations (filled in Australia by skilled migrants) such as electronic engineers, telecommunications engineers, software developers, analyst programmers, developer programmers, network engineers and accountants are from India. Students from India choose such related courses. Areas like Melbourne (Victoria), Perth (Western Australia), Adelaide (South Australia) enable the existing permanent residents to sponsor their relatives if they belong to the above-mentioned professions,” Veeravalli said.

Australia’s business innovation and investment programme that was created in 2012 to attract high-quality investors and entrepreneurs to Australia, is finding takers in India. It includes the investor visa, the business innovation visa, the significant investor visa, and the newly-introduced premium investor visa.

This article is written by Ishani Duttagupta.
Source: The Economic Times, July 6, 2015
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