Sunday, December 27, 2009

IITs domiante the list of best T-schools in India

The premier Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur is the best technology school in the country followed by IIT-Delhi, revealed a new survey released today. The survey that studied 111 engineering and technology schools in the country said: "IIT Kharagpur has topped the list for the third consecutive year." On a scale of 100, this elite engineering institute has scored 81.9 points, which is closely followed by IIT-Delhi that has scored a close 78.49 points. The survey was carried out by research firm IDC and technology magazine Dataquest.

"The six prestigious IITs dominate the list of Top 10 T-Schools survey," it added. The IITs located at Madras, Kanpur, Roorkee and Guwahati took the next four slots in the survey. The top 10 was completed by International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) Hyderabad, Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) Pilani, National Institute of Technology (NIT) Surathkal and Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University (IT BHU) at number seven, eight, nine and 10, respectively. "Interestingly, IIIT Hyderabad is the youngest college, set up in 1998, to make it to the Top 10 list. IIT Bombay did not participate," the survey revealed. While NIT Warangal, is the 11th best technology school in the country, the Delhi Technology University (formerly Delhi College of Engineering) has occupied the 12th spot.

These engineering and technology colleges were reviewed on several parameters like quality of teaching, placement, industry interface, IT facilities and research papers. Individually, IIT Kharagpur scored high on Human Resource (HR) perception, while IIT Delhi ranked high on placement records. The HR perception score is based on how recruiters rate each college during their campus visits. Placement score is based on percentage of students placed, number of companies visiting campuses as well as the maximum and average salary offered per annum.

The survey, revealed a drop in overall placements to 73 percent in 2009 from 84 percent in 2007-08. Slowdown impacted on the placement, with number of companies visiting campuses as well as number of jobs offered showing a dip. Only 16 of the Top 111 T-Schools reported 100 percent placement to its students. These included BITS Pilani, IIT Kanpur; Institute of Technology, BHU; Orissa Engineering College, Bhubaneswar and several NITs. The average annual salaries of IIT graduates registered a drop of 5 percent to Rs.588,000 during 2009, while the average salary of NIT graduates salary improved 6 percent to Rs. 436,000 annually. "The T-Schools must focus on the quality of faculty and original research to improve the employability of students and funding of research projects," said Ibrahim Ahmad, Group Editor of Dataquest.

Source: The Economic Times, December 27, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Government favours semester system for all Indian varsities

Despite resistance from some teachers and other lobbies, the government is fully committed to introducing the semester system in universities across the country as a major academic reform step in higher education. Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Mr. Kapil Sibal, speaking during question hour in Rajya Sabha on Friday, however, said a rigid timeline could not be set for implementation of the semester system since universities were autonomous bodies.

Persuasion not compulsion is the answer, said Mr. Sibal, expressing the hope that the semester systems universalisation would be a reality by 2011-12. The depth and breadth of learning for students would be much more under the semester system, rather than the existing system of only an annual exam at the end of the academic year.
Students will be more focussed throughout the year in the semester system. They will be constantly evaluated. We want teachers to cooperate and embrace the semester system since it will benefit students, he added. If universalised, the system will also ensure mobility for students, making it possible for them to do different semesters at different universities.

Prometric admits CAT was flawed

American firm Prometric, which conducted the computerised Common Admission Test (CAT) 2009 admitted that administration of the exam was far from perfect even as the development of the test adhered to a process-driven science. While the administration was far from perfect, tests were successfully given to more than 215,000 candidates over the course of 11 days, said Soumitra Roy, Managing Director, Prometric - India.

The computerized test, which was conducted on 17,000 computers in 361 temporary testing labs at 104 centres in 32 cities, was marred by virus attack and other technical glitches right from the beginning. The test was supposed to be taken by 241,000 candidates for admission into the prestigious IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) and other B-Schools.

We stand by the test and its ability to best serve interests of students and educators. We strongly believe in its credibility, said Roy. His comments assume significance against the backdrop of faculty associations of three IIMs passing separate resolutions, seeking scrapping of CAT 2009 on the ground that it has lost credibility due to the technical problems. The development of the test adhered to a process-driven science that both the IIMs and Prometric strictly followed, said Roy.

CAT items were built with the input of more than 95 subject-matter experts and reviewed by IIM professors. In addition, items were tested prior to being deployed in the field and are being tested again to ensure that all the questions on the test performed as intended, added Roy.

Online CAT: IIMs decide against re-test

The controversy sorrounding the maiden online CAT (Common Admission Test) for entry into prestigious IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) does not seem to die soon. In a decision that went in favour of the 216,000 candidates who completed the CAT 2009, the IIMs on December 17 said the computerised exam will not be scrapped. The decision was announced after a meeting of the IIM Directors and the CAT committee members with senior of the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) in New Delhi.

The outcome of the meeting was eagerly awaited by the student fraternity even as a section of the IIM faculty felt that the test be scrapped and a retest held in the paper-pencil format to maintain fairness of the prestigious exam. A re-test would have thrown the 2010 academic schedule haywire and clashed with other MBA entrance exams. On December 16, while the top brass were engaged in the MHRD meeting in New Delhi, a group of unidentified people shouted slogans and broke a few pots outside the IIM-Ahmedabad premises demanding scrapping of the test. The protesters claimed to be parents of the candidates, but it could not be verified.

The computerised test, which was conducted over 11 days starting November 28, was marred by technical glitches at several testing sites, affecting a few thousand candidates. The IIMs have announced one extra date, sometime in mid-January. Of the 241,000 candidates registered for the test, close to 216,000 completed the test successfully, IIM officials said, adding that paper-pencil tests were history now. The scrapping of test could have affected a majority of candidates who had written the test successfully. The coaching centres who enjoy a clientele of close to 200,000 prospective students, however, gave out mixed reactions. As per CAT committee officials, about 24,000 students did not show up for the test and around 2,000 candidates are yet to be tested.

The IIMs are in the process of identifying a system to provide another opportunity to genuine candidates who could not take the test due to reasons like premature exit through the exit/end button, slowness of computers while reviewing and refreshing questions, rebooting of computers and disruptions, missing graphics and data. IIMs have decided to continue with computer-based test for 2009. We also look forward to continue the CAT through computer-based testing in future, IIM-Ahmedabad director Samir Barua told reporters after the meeting.

The test, which was conducted by the IIMs in paper-pencil mode for the last 33 years, changed to computer-based format this year. The task for testing was handed over to US-based company, Prometric. However, the test incurred several technical problems from the start itself, affecting around 20,000 candidates across a 10-day span, leading the IIMs to extend the test by a day. Reports said, while directors of IIM-Ahmedabad and IIM-Bangalore were not in favour of scrapping the test, the heads of other five IIMs preferred a retest.

Court comes to the rescue of backward class candidate

The Delhi High Court has asked the permier medical studies institution - All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) - to allocate a seat, in the course of his choice, to an aspirant who sought to appear in counselling both under the general and quota seats but was not allowed. A division bench of Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice S Muralidhar, in an order passed earlier this week, asked the AIIMS to admit Manish Patnecha, a candidate from the other backward class (OBC), who was denied an opportunity to sit for second counselling against the OBC quota this year after he opted for a seat against the general category.

During the second counselling, he sought to appear against the OBC quota so that he could get admission in a subject of his choice but AIIMS debarred him, saying that would block two seats. Patnecha then approached the court, contending a higher ranked candidate belonging to reserved category should not be deprived of the choice of either a seat or an institution vis-a-vis a candidate of the same social class figuring lower in the merit list, while applying the principle of reservation. Finding the AIIMS decision unjustified, the court directed the institute to offer Patnecha the seat in the course of his choice. Earlier this year, a single judge bench had declined any relief to Patnecha, ruling that the AIIMS could not be directed to have second counselling again and allot him the seat in a course of his choice, cancelling the allocation of the seat to another candidate.

Source: The Times of India, December 14, 2009

Teachers oppose semester system in Delhi University

After stalling the biometric IDs — to keep a check on teacher attendance — proposal at the Executive Council meeting, Delhi University teachers will now show their opposition to the proposed semester system for the undergraduate level on Tuesday, when the teachers meet for a General Body meeting. The meeting will also discuss teachers’ service conditions proposed by the University Grants Commission (UGC) as well as the demand to drop the biometric IDs. Plans are big, as the teachers will also stage dharnas in their respective, take out a march from Mandi House to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) on December 22 and similar protests will continue into January 2010 as well.

Teachers will gather at the new Arts Faculty convocation hall for the meet called by the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA). DUTA executives met last week and resolved to oppose the semester system for the undergraduate level, which is supposed to come into effect from the 2010-11 academic session. The university recently prepared a final draft of plans for implementation of the semester system. After the meet, the teachers will march towards the vice chancellor’s office, where they will demand a fresh debate on the semester system and a rollback on the proposed biometric IDs system. ‘‘The semester system cannot be implemented without a proper debate on its feasibility and without the Academic Council’s (AC) approval,’’ said DUTA president Aditya Narayan Mishra. But according to university officials and the minutes of the AC, the proposal has been passed, with 19 in dissent against 126 votes in favour.

‘‘Teachers don’t want negative impact on service conditions and have been trying to say that to the university, UGC and the MHRD. The semester system, the proposed service conditions for teachers, and the biometric IDs proposal is a package of negative service conditions and teachers are bound to oppose such a move. Moreover, the university administration has been taking decisions arbitrarily without consulting teachers,’’ said Rajib Ray, a faculty member of Kirori Mal College. Meanwhile, history teachers on December 12 resolved they will not participate in implementation of the semester system, including the preparation of syllabi.

IIMs review CAT

The online CAT (Common Admission Test) for entry into the prestigious Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) continues to be bogged by controversies. The question being frequently asked is will the IIMs scrap the just-concluded CAT and revert to the paper-pencil format for this year? No concrete answers yet, but according to sources close to the development, opinions have changed over the last five days, especially with the number of candidates affected by computer glitches rising to 20,000.

Last Sunday (December 13), Prometric, the agency responsible for conducting the computerbased MBA entrance exam, gave a presentation to the IIM Directors and members of the CAT committee in Mumbai. The presentation was essentially about data from CCTV recordings and computer logs to know the magnitude of glitches. However, the officials refused to say whether any conclusion was reached on the 10-day test that had to be extended by one-day.

“The important thing is that, we now have the data. We will analyse it and then take a decision (on whether re-test would be held in the old format). It is too early to comment on anything else,” said IIM-Bangalore Director Pankaj Chandra. The Mumbai huddle was seen as a preparatory exercise before the crucial MHRD meeting scheduled on December 16. It may be mentioned here while the Directors of IIM-Ahmedabad and IIM-Bangalore are not in favour of scrapping the test, the heads of other five IIMs prefer a re-test. With doubts raised over the fairness of the test, there is a consensus among other IIMs (except IIM-A & B) that a re-test would silence all critics. “This is not to say that it is the end of road for computer-based tests. This, being the first year, we faced a lot of hurdles. But we see a lot of gains in the new format. So, next year, we would be better prepared,” said an IIM professor.

A re-test is feared to throw the entire academic schedule haywire. If the IIMs decide to hold the test in the old format this year, the CAT organisers would take at least two more months to accommodate 241,000 candidates at various colleges and institutes across the country. The admission process would also be delayed, leaving lesser time for the 2010-11 academic year. But a professor disagrees. “A re-test is difficult, not impossible. We have the mechanism in place.” CAT has been in the traditional format for 33 years. On a shorter academic schedule, another professor said: “I don’t think, it will drastically affect the schedule. Instead of July, the session may start in August 2010, and one can always curtail holidays to make up for the lost time.”

The leading business daily of the country, The Economic Times, had reported the first demand for scrapping the online exam came from the coaching centres on the fifth day. The trainers form a prominent stakeholder, as close to 200,000 candidates take tutorials for the careerdefining exam that opens doors to seven IIMs and over 150 B-schools. Apart from the technical glitches, the trainers said, questions were repeated handing out an unfair advantage to those taking the test in the later slots.

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