The IITs are struggling to fill up faculty posts, with vacancies in 2014-15 ranging from 10 per cent in IIT-Mandi to over 50 per cent in IIT-Jodhpur and IIT-BHU (Banaras Hindu University), replies to an RTI query by The Indian Express have revealed.
Among the older IITs, Bombay had a vacancy of 38.66 per cent, Kharagpur of 42.42 per cent, Roorkee of 41.88 per cent, Delhi of 33.11 per cent, Guwahati of 26.50 per cent and IIT-BHU of 53.39 per cent.
While some of the RTI replies said the vacancy is estimated from the 10:1 student:faculty ratio followed at IITs, one said there is no concept of sanctioned post of faculty members and it is based on students’ strength.
“Filling up vacant posts is a long process and cannot be done overnight,” said a former IIT director. “None of the IITs wants to compromise with quality. Further, good people have options in international universities and industry. In certain disciplines, there are not enough qualified people from among whom we can hire.”
Experts said the IITs have been taking various initiatives to attract outstanding candidates for faculty posts. Some of these measures include year-round open advertisements, young faculty awards and inviting alumni, scientists and faculty to reach out to potential candidates.
“Vacant faculty positions are true of institutions globally, and not just in India,” said Dr Deepak B Phatak, professor at IIT-Bombay that has 595 faculty members against a sanctioned 970. “While we are reasonably placed, the newer IITs are facing challenges, which is a natural process for every new institution that is trying to build and establish itself. Also, the number of people interested in academics and those who are going for PhDs is on the rise. While we would like more faculty members as these are sanctioned posts, faculty selection and appointment is an extremely rigorous process and given IIT-Bombay’s position, where top performers are trying to get in, the process does take some time.”
“Each department at IIT-Bombay has a search committee and we recruit only those with a PhD, with three years of experience and those who have a perspective,” said Dr Rangan Banerjee, another professor at IIT-Bombay. “So while the number of applications is large, many don’t meet the minimum quality or lack in perspective or rigour. Also, not enough people opt for research. We are clear we won’t lower our standards. A long-term solution is to have more PhD students.”
Among the newer IITs too, the vacancies were huge. It was 56.67 per cent in IIT-Jodhpur, 21.11 per cent in Patna, 14.44 per cent in Indore, 20 per cent in Hyderabad, and 10.18 per cent in Gandhinagar.
“This year, IIT-Delhi and IISc-Bangalore made their debut in the Quacquarelli Symonds list of top 200 universities globally. However, IITs usually don’t make the cut as they lose out majorly to the weightage given to parameters like international faculty, student-faculty ratio and international students,” said a member of the IIT-Bombay faculty. “While we are doing reasonably well in research and development in terms of impact and citation factors, there is scope for improvement. From where you publish your research paper is also important and there are very few quality Indian journals.”
Prof Gautam Barua, former IIT Guwahati director, said that at the PG level, even if an IIT tries to attract foreign students, it is difficult because the Indian government currently does not support scholarships for foreign students. “Further, it’s again tough to get international faculty with our current pay-scales,” Barua said.