THE LACK of focus on research and development initiatives have led to the poor rankings awarded to Tricity engineering colleges, in the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) released by the Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) on Monday.
According to academicians in the region, engineering institutions in Chandigarh need a boost in research and development (R&D) activities for them to perform better and produce higher graduate outcomes.
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As per the NIRF report, PEC University has been placed at the 38th slot with an overall score of 61.32; the Indian Institute of of Science Education & Research (IISER), Mohali, has been ranked 43 with a score of 59.58 while PU’s University Institute of Chemical Engineering and Technology (UICET) secured rank 100 with a score of 49.09. PU’s University Institute of Chemical Engineering (UIET) fared even worse, finishing outside the top 100.
Of the lot, IISER has performed the best in research parameters. While it secured a score of 82.22 in Research, Professional Practice & Collaborative Performance (RPC), UICET was way behind with 56.55 in RPC, with PEC in third with a score of 55.58.
In contrast to its high score in RPC, IISER has overwhelmingly underperformed in Graduate Outcomes (GO) with a score of only 13.39. PEC University has, however, scored 70.83 in GO while UICET secured 78.30 in the category. The annual average placement salary of UICET students in 2014-15 was Rs 5 lakh, whereas those of PEC were Rs 7,38,000.
“IISER is essentially an institute that focuses on research and we have done well in that field. As far as graduate outcomes are concerned, the number is less because we only take a limited number of students. The focus is more on quality than quantity. In the last five to seven years, since it was established, IISER has managed to produce excellent research output by even making an impact internationally,” said Professor Arvind, dean of R&D at IISER, Mohali.
The other engineering institutions though, blamed their poor performance in research on lack of funding as well as inadequate faculty members. “If you look at the ranking, you have to understand that majority of the institutions that have outperformed PEC are IITs and a few NITs which get a lot more funding that we do. PEC receives about Rs 60 crore and with that in mind, PEC is headed in the right direction,” said Dr Sanjeev Sofat, deputy director of PEC University.
Dr Sofat, however, pointed out that for PEC to excel in the rankings, more focus was needed in research and development activities. “PEC was earlier an engineering college affiliated to Panjab University and the focus on research was low. Now that we have university status, there are a lot more Ph.D programmes and we are focusing more on research initiatives,” he said.
UICET, which has scored only 17 in perception, has lagged behind due to shortage of faculty. “About 50 per cent of the permanent faculty positions are vacant at UICET and there is a shortage of funds for research.
In 2014-15, only 117 citations were reported by the institute. For an engineering institute to excel, research activities are very significant,” a professor at UICET told Chandigarh Newsline on condition of anonymity.
For similar reasons, shortage of professors and funds, Panjab University’s UIET has failed to make it to the list of the top 100 engineering institutions in the country. Thapar University, Patiala, is however at the 27th position in the list, with an overall score of 67.51 while the Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering & Technology, Sangrur, has made it to the list at the 56th position.