Wednesday, August 10, 2016

MHRD's new project Vishwajeet aims to put IIT in top league of global rankings

It's called Project VISHWAJEET. The name — which means Conqueror of the Universe — may suggest it is a defence mission, but it isn't that. The project is aimed at catapulting Indian Institutes of Technology to the top league of global academic rankings. 

The game plan is currently being worked on at the Ministry of Human Resources Development. VISHWAJEET will aim to pick the IITs with greatest potential to climb up the global pecking order and then ensure close focus on them, backed with funding, so that they excel on all parameters. 

The IIT Council is set to discuss the plan with all IITs and other stakeholders at a meeting presided over by HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar on August 23. Among a handful of Indian institutes that figure on global listings like QS and Times, IITs are mostly ranked the highest. 

However, their positions on the overall global list aren't very enviable, standing mostly at 200 and below. The Indian Institute of Science was ahead of IITs at 147 in the 2015 QS World University Rankings. Five IITs made it to the rankings in 2015 with IIT-Delhi at 179, IIT-Bombay at 202, IITMadras at 254, IIT-Kanpur at 271 and IIT-Kharagpur at 286. It is expected that IITs among thetop 250 will be selected for Project VISHWAJEET. 

VISHWAJEET will towards identifying on which parameters the chosen IITs may be lagging behind and work in a targeted manner to address the shortcoming. For instance, QS Rankings rates institutes based on six indicators: academic reputation, employer reputation, student-faculty ratio, citations per faculty, international faculty and student ratio. Times Higher Education rankings have a set of similar five performance criteria. Indian institutes typically fall behind on the internationalisation parameters and also academic reputation when seen globally.

Minister Javadekar recently observed that the local institutes were lagging behind on the rankings due to "perception" issues. 

The IIT Council will also look at such associated issues like opening up the IITs to foreign students —a plan that is expected to take off with the JEE 2017 entrance test which will be held abroad as well. Other issues expected to be on the agenda are proposals to bring in a campus recruitment format for faculty to catch the pool of young and new PhD holdersAlso in the works is a proposal to bring in a programme, Prime Minister's Research Fellows, to encourage research at IITs. 

The plan is to select the best of students to take up research, fund and invest in their research work and create an ecosystem for them at the IITs. The move is aimed at as much as retaining the best talent at the local institutes as also boosting research and creating a new faculty pool. 

Special funding will be earmarked for this. Reforms in the M Tech admission system as well as better paid teaching assistantship formulas are also planned. Other topics to be discussed by the IIT Council include setting up of Tinkerers' Labs at all IITs and the conduct of JEE 2017. 

Source: The Economic Times, August 10, 2016

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