The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Kharagpur has been issued a letter of caution by the National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF) after the HRD Ministry received complaints alleging that the institute had fudged facts to improve its ranking this year.
NIRF is the first government-backed ranking of universities and institutes in higher education, and is based on data disclosed by the participating institutions. This year, IIT-Kharagpur was assessed the fourth best engineering institute in the country. It also bagged the first position in the architecture category, stood seventh on the list of management institutes and fourth among all participating law schools.
In June, however, a section of students at IIT-Kharagpur accused the administration of misrepresenting facts submitted to the National Board of Accreditation (NBA), the agency that brings out the rankings every year.
In a letter addressed to HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar, the students wrote that IIT-Kharagpur, in order to score points under the parameter that gauges outreach initiative for students with disabilities, had lied that all buildings of the institute have either lifts or ramps and specially designed toilets for persons with disabilities. “Nothing can be more further from truth than this,” the letter, accessed by The Indian Express, states. The letter does not identify the signatories individually.
An on-ground inspection by The Indian Express on November 13 found that many buildings on the IIT-Kharagpur campus did not have elevators and very few had ramps for students with disabilities. Out of the 48 departments/centres/schools on campus, ramp facility was available in the departments of biotechnology, civil engineering, cryogenic engineering, computer science and engineering, electrical engineering, geo physics, geology, G S Sanyal School of Telecommunication, Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law, School of Medical Science and Technology, and Vinod Gupta School of Management.
When contacted by The Indian Express for a response, institute Director Partha Pratim Chakrabarti said, “We have adequately responded to NIRF on a query of this nature that was sent to them.”
However, Higher Education Secretary R Subrahmanyam said that the institute has been issued a letter of caution by NIRF over complaints of fudging facts. “This (the complaint) was sent to the NIRF, who after placing in their decision-making body, came to a conclusion that even if the figures are not correct, there won’t be any change in the ranking. We have issued a letter of caution to the institution. However, it may be noted that NIRF did not independently verify the allegation,” he wrote in response to an email sent by The Indian Express.
The NIRF guidelines state that an institution can be debarred from participating in future ranking surveys for two years if it resorts to any “unethical practices” and an institution can also be removed from the ranking list. According to government sources, IIT-Kharagpur, for now, has only been cautioned and asked to check its data before submitting to NBA for NIRF ranking in future.