India’s Best-performing IITs still far behind in research performance of 2 top World Universities: Study

The researchers discovered a "substantial difference" in research performance levels of old IITs vis-a-vis the "new IITs."

IIT Kharagpur, Wikimedia

Kolkata, March 31, 2017: India’s best-performing IITs, including IIT-Kharagpur and IIT-Bombay, are far behind in research performance of the two top ranking world universities, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT-USA) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore), a computational analysis has revealed.

The study has highlighted that for IITs to be placed high among the world institutions, “a lot of effort and support” is required.

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“Of these two, NTU established in 1991 is younger than the five older IITs, which shows that the age of an institution alone does not necessarily matter for higher performance. If a new institution like NTU can achieve research performance levels to be included among top ranking world institutions, then why not some of the Indian IITs,” asked the study’s lead author, Vivek Kumar Singh, Department of Computer Science of the Banaras Hindu University.

The observations were based on a computational analysis of research performance of 16 “relatively older” Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in the country. There are a total of 23 IITs in India at present.

The study was carried out by parsing through research publication data indexed in Web of Science. The data was examined to identify productivity, productivity per capita, rate of growth of research output, authorship and collaboration pattern, citation impact and discipline-wise research strengths of the different IITs.

The IITs, despite being the most prestigious institutions in India, do not rank high in top universities list of the world, the study notes.

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“Further, IITs are yet to match the research performance of the IISc (the Indian Institute of Science, which is an indigenously created institution unlike many older IITs established under foreign mentorship. The comparison indicates that IITs have a long way to go if they have to become comparable to the best institutions in the world in terms of research performance,” Singh said.

The first Indian Institute of Technology was established in 1951 at Kharagpur, followed by IIT Bombay (1958), IIT Madras (1959), IIT Kanpur (1959) and IIT Delhi (1961) – all through foreign collaboratiom. In 1961, the Institutes of Technology act was passed by Parliament which declared these institutions as institutes of national importance.

Almost three decades later, IIT Guwahati was established in 1994. This was followed by converting Roorkee University to IIT Roorkee in 2001.

During 2008-2012, nine more IITs were established at Bhubaneswar, Gandhinagar, Hyderabad, Jodhpur, Patna, Ropar, Indore, Mandi and Varanasi).

And most recently, seven new IITs (at Palakkad, Tirupati, Dhanbad, Bhilai, Goa, Jammu and Dharwad) are proposed/established during 2015-16.

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As IITs are of different age, institutes were grouped into three different sets: old IITs (7 IITs which are at least 15 years old), new IITs (9 new IITs established during 2008-2012) and recent IITs (7 IITS established during 2015-16).

The analysis excludes the seven recent ones as they have come into existence within the last five years.

The researchers discovered a “substantial difference” in research performance levels of old IITs vis-a-vis the “new IITs.”

“This can be explained by the fact that new IITs are quite young for a research performance comparison with old IITs. Some new IITs, particularly the IITI (IIT-Indore) show promising research performance,” Singh said.

The other important conclusion is that majority of the research output from IITs is in physics, chemistry and mathematics disciplines while research in engineering disciplines lags behind substantially.

“IITs being primarily engineering and technology institutions, should produce more research work in core engineering disciplines,” Singh said.

The findings are published in March in Current Science. Sumit Kumar Banshal and Pranab Kumar Muhuri in Department of Computer Science, South Asian University, New Delhi and Aparna Basu, formerly at CSIR-NISTADS, collaborated on the study. (IANS)

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