EVEN AS IIT-Delhi emerged as the highest-ranked university in the country as per the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings 2018, IIT-Delhi Deputy Director (Strategy & Planning) M Balakrishnan Wednesday said that although the ranking was “something to be happy about”, it was “not spectacular”. The university, which has risen from the the 185th position to the 172nd position this year, has beaten Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, which had been occupying the top spot for the past two years. “These are all minor changes; I won’t say they are major. We’ve gone up by 14 ranks but it is not a big jump. A big jump is when we come closer to 100,” Balakrishnan said.
QS Rankings are based on six parameters: academic reputation, employer reputation, student-faculty ratio, citations per faculty, international faculty and student ratio. Balakrishnan Wednesday maintained that the university has not been made aware of how they have scored in each of these criterion, but argued that the ranking would have gone up primarily because of more focus on research. “Clearly our research is going up in a focussed manner. One of the parameters, for example, is the number of PhD students per faculty. Around 10 years ago, we had around two PhD students per faculty whereas now we have five students per faculty. So that’s a big jump. The institute is focused on increasing the number of PhD students and that is paying off. We don’t know where we’ve done well but we expect our research to be one of the major reasons,” he said.
“We have more publications in good journals. Since they (QS rankings) consider citations, if a publication is in a well-known journal, it will be cited more. We’re encouraging students to publish more, especially in good journals. Presently, a student gets one opportunity to attend an international conference. We’re thinking whether we can give them a second opportunity if the student publishes in good journals. We’re also increasing research facilities considerably. The director has committed to a major investment in central research facilities, which will help even those students whose departments and labs don’t have good funding,” he said.
He added that the IIT-Delhi website had also been “beefed up”, which would have “definitely” helped. “A lot more information is going up on the website. For example, we have pictures and abstracts of every PhD scholar defending his/her thesis on the website,” he said. He said that while efforts were on to induct more faculty, it was a “challenge”. “To maintain quality and get a large number of faculty is difficult. Although there are more faculty available now, competition has risen. Moreover, many people prefer to teach in regions they hail from,” he said.
He, however, said he was confident that IIT-Delhi wouldn’t have done well in the “international student ratio”. “Last year, we had around 75-80 international students. This year it has increased to around 90. But it’s still not much. If you look at universities in the UK, the US and Canada, 50 to 60 per cent of their students come from other places,” he said.
“We can’t admit students without JEE, and international students are not going to appear for JEE. At PhD level, we’re approaching the government to allow us to give scholarships to foreign students. Presently, government scholarships are not available for them and they can’t even work on government projects, whereas in the US, these restrictions don’t apply, which has benefitted them. We’re willing to increase the number of foreign students and the government is also willing to consider it. So we’re hoping it will happen soon,” he said.