Building More IITs

IIT graduates are considered some of the best educated people in engineering — and they definitely have contributed enough to prove to build and maintain the reputation.  Now Government of India wants to build several more IITs.  There have also been talks of building IITs outside India for some other countries.  On surface, this may seem like a good idea, but is it really a good idea to build more IITs?  One has to really understand what is the real contribution of IITs and what resources are required to build IITs? What are the implications of those resource requirements and their effect on India.


The most important thing about IITs is their ‘Joint Entrace Exams’.  The comeptition for entry into IITs is fierce — one of the most cometitive in any field any place in the world.  This competition does make sure that the only people who get into the system — except for the reservations — are those who are exceptionally bright and hardworking.  These students have to work extremely hard — despite their unusually gifted talents — and by the time they get into an IIT, they are really exceptionally well prepared and very competitive.  I think after that the contribution of IITs to the education of these students is just OK — nothing really exceptional.  The main thing about IITs is the entrance exam — not the quality of education.  Quality of education is OK on most parameters including quality of teachers/professors, laboratory, research/education environment, creative and entrepreneurship environment, and physical facilities.  One can easily find equivalent in every country, including in India.

 It is well known that there is acute shortage of quality professors due to comparatively poor salaries and insufficient production of PhDs in India.  When even the current IITs are struggling to get correct quality professors and not producing PhDs, what will happen to new IITs?  let’s not forget what Narayana Murthy said about the most engineers being unemployable due to poor quality of engineers.  I do hope that the quality of current IITs can be maintained by not diluting what is working.

What is really reqquired is to make sure that we can raise the quality of IITs (not the students but the faculty and environment) that are there and then slowly build on the success.  It will be a pity if we build several IITs and in the process even destroy what we have.  A better alternative may be to bring in more private institutions, particularly foreign universities, to compete with IITs so they can improve other factors and become really outstanding not only in terms of getting exceptional students, but also providing them exception education.

3 thoughts on “Building More IITs

  1. Sumedh

    1. NOT increasing IIT’s is not the solution of the problem of lack of infrastructure and prof’s.

    2. Dilution is not true. The number of seats at IIT’s have hardly kept pace with the population increase in last 30 years, and IIT’s was still a good brand in 70’s. If selection criteria of 0.1% is good, I believe 0.2% is equally good.

    3. If foreign universities can get good Prof’s, even IIT’s would. In fact, its easier for them if just funds increase, because of brand name.

  2. Ramesh Post author

    The dilution issue is not related to increasing seats at the current institutes, but sopening others when we don’t have adequate (teaching) resources at the current institutes.
    IITs can not compete, in the current structure, because they must reward faculty based on standard Governmental policies. Foreign universities will not have that limitation.

    Our focus has to be on building quality at the current IITs to match — in fact reduce the gap — the quality of students.

  3. Sachin

    Interesting fact that the entrance exam weeds out the cream of the crop but once they’re in the quality of instruction is at par w/other universities and colleges. I wonder if the students feel “cheated” – after all the hard work in spite of their exceptional talents and not being challenged to their potential?

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