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NIRF Data: Top-100 Engineering Institutions have 81% Faculty with PhDs compared to 35% in the Remaining


Data from the NIRF indicates stark differences in various parameters of the top-100 institutions in various categories compared to the remaining. In 2023, at an overall level, over 77% of the faculty in top 100 institutions (all types) had PhDs while it is only 51% in remaining institutions. This difference is stark in engineering where it is 81% in top-100 compared to 35% in the remaining.

In the first part of the NIRF series, we looked at the overall ranking framework, the methodology behind such rankings, and the evolution of the framework over the years. In this second part of the series, we look at the parameters and see how the top 100 institutions perform vis-à-vis the rest of the institutions. In a way, this could potentially show the characteristics that set apart the top-ranked institutions. In addition to this, we also look at a few other overall trends.

Growing share of faculty with PhD in engineering institutions; more dominant in top 100 institutions

The landscape of engineering education in India has undergone phenomenal growth over the last two decades, giving rise to a multitude of engineering institutions across the nation, be it in the private or government domain. This surge has spotlighted engineering as the focal point for delving into faculty data, aiming for a panoramic view of the country’s higher education establishments.

The finer details of the faculty data reveal that less than half of the faculty in applicant engineering institutions have doctoral qualifications. In 2023, only 45% of the total faculty in engineering institutions had doctoral degrees. The progress on this front has been decent, with the proportion rising from 28% in 2017 to 45% in 2023.

Further, a discerning observation reveals a doctoral degree dominance within the top 100 institutions, leaving the remaining establishments with a shortage of faculty holding such esteemed qualifications. In 2023, at an overall level, over 77% of the faculty in the top 100 institutions (all types) had doctoral qualifications, while it is only 51% in the remaining institutions. This difference is stark in engineering, where the top 100 institutions had 81% of the faculty with doctoral qualifications as compared to 35% of the faculty in the rest of the institutions.

This imbalance poses a critical setback, given that the invaluable mentorship garnered during doctoral pursuits significantly shapes faculty members for their journey into higher education teaching careers.

Approximately 6 out of 10 research publications are from top 100 institutions.

An institution’s research productivity is assessed using various quantitative and qualitative measures. Among these, the publication of research papers stands out as a pivotal and decisive factor in evaluating the calibre of a higher academic and research establishment.

NIRF rankings also evaluate institutions based on their research productivity.  For the purposes of such assessment, NIRF uses a third-party source- “Web of Science”, to extract information on scholarly output. It is observed that, in 2023, approximately 62.48% of research publications originated from the top 100 institutions within the “Overall” category, while the remaining eligible institutions collectively contributed the remaining 37.52%. This trend is consistent across all domains, except for Colleges. The data reflects a resemblance to Pareto’s principle, indicating that the majority of research publications stem from the top 100 institutions in each category.  In absolute terms, an average of 377 research publications per institute are published in the ‘overall’ category in 2023 rankings.

On the flip side, the emphasis on publishing had also led to unethical practices and waste full research, with the current trend moving towards the creation of more publishable research. To remove such categories in evaluation, we also look at the share of highly cited publications of the top 100 institutions. It is observed that the top 100 institutions in the ‘overall’ category account for approximately 64.39% of the highly cited publications. Similar trends can be seen in the top 100 institutions of other disciplines, accounting for more than 70% of highly cited publications.

Additionally, delving into a major discipline like Engineering unveils that IITs stand out, securing a dominant position by claiming nearly 35.79% of Engineering publications. They are followed by deemed-to-be-universities, contributing 22.10%, and NITs, accounting for 18.82% of the publications in this field.

Only 1/3rd of the engineering institutions have the desired faculty-student ratio.

The faculty-student ratio (FSR) is a crucial determinant of the quality of education. It directly influences individual student experiences, the academic environment, and the overall quality of education. A better FSR means a lower burden, thereby more focus on research and academics. On the flip side, it also poses a significant financial burden on the colleges and pressurize colleges to prioritize quantity over quality.

It is observed that only one-third of the total engineering institutions have the stipulated FSR norms of 1:20, as mandated by the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). In 2023, out of the total of 1239 engineering institutions, there are 421 institutions (33.98%) that qualify for the AICTE-prescribed FSR of 20 students per faculty whereas the remaining 818 institutions are trying to achieve the norms prescribed by the AICTE. This proportion has largely remained the same since 2017.

Expenditure per student remains uniformly low across all disciplines.

The NIRF rankings have an indicator for financial resource utilization (FRU). It considers the average annual capital and operational expenditure per student for the previous three years.

A lower FRU indicates a lesser expenditure per student, further impacting the quality of education. The data show that the median FRU across different domains has relatively been stagnant for the past six years. At an overall level, the median FRU grew from Rs. 65,098 in 2017 to Rs. 65,380 in 2023, while for the Engineering domain, it grew from Rs.61,007 to Rs.67,165 during the same period. The management domain registered a greater increase from Rs. 67,156 to Rs. 90,713, along with the Pharmacy domain, which rose from Rs. 56,894 to Rs. 74,649 during the same period.

About 50% growth in median salary of graduated engineering students

Median salary is an important indicator under the graduation outcome parameter in the NIRF ranking. The data from the NIRF rankings reveal that the median salary of engineering graduates grew by more than 50% between the academic years 2016-17 to 2021-22. It grew consistently from Rs. 3,02,431 to Rs. 4,57,575 during the corresponding period. On average, the median salary grew by almost 9% every year.


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