The Indian Institutes of Technology
The Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) are autonomous public institutes of higher education, located in India. They are governed by the Institutes of Technology Act, 1961 which has declared them as institutions of national importance and lays down their powers, duties, and framework for governance etc. The Institutes of Technology Act, 1961 lists twenty-three institutes (after the last amendment in 2016). Each IIT is an autonomous institution, linked to the others through a common IIT Council, which oversees their administration. The Minister of Human Resource Development is the ex-officio Chairperson of IIT Council. As of 2018, the total number of seats for undergraduate programmes in all IITs is 11,279.
The first IIT was set up in Kharagpur in 1951, and soon later in Bombay (1958), Madras (1959), Kanpur (1959) and Delhi (1963). An IIT was then established in Guwahati in 1994. The University of Roorkee was converted to IIT Roorkee in 2001. Eight new IITs were set up in Gandhinagar, Jodhpur, Hyderabad, Indore, Patna, Bhubaneswar, Ropar, and Mandi in 2008-09. Following same selection process since 1972, finally in 2012 the Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University was given IIT status. Another six new IITs in Tirupati, Palakkad, Dharwad, Bhilai, Goa and Jammu, approved through a 2016 bill amendment were established in 2015-16, along with the conversion of ISM Dhanbad to IIT Dhanbad.
The IITs have a common admission process for undergraduate admissions, the Joint Entrance Examination – Advanced, formerly called the IIT-JEE until 2012. JEE Advanced admits students according to their ranks in the exam. The post-graduate level program that awards M.Tech., MS degrees, and the doctoral programme that offers Ph.D. in engineering is administered by the older IITs. M.Tech. and MS admissions are done on the basis of Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE). Additionally, IITs also award other graduate degrees such as M.Sc in Maths, Physics and Chemistry, MBA, etc. Admission to these programs of IITs is done through Common Admission Test (CAT), Joint Admission Test for M.Sc. (JAM) and Common Entrance Examination for Design (CEED). IIT Guwahati and IIT Bombay offer undergraduate design programmes as well. Joint Seat Allocation Authority conducts the joint admission process for a total of 23 IITs, that offer admission for 10,962 seats in 2017.
IITs and Locations
The IITs receive comparatively higher grants than other engineering colleges in India. While the total government funding to most other engineering colleges is around Rs. 10–20 crores (USD 2–4 million) per year, the amount varies between Rs. 90 crores –130 crores (USD 18–26 million) per year for each IIT. Other sources of funds include student fees and research funding from industry and contributions from the alumni. The faculty-to-student ratio in the IITs is between 1:6 and 1:8. The Standing Committee of IIT Council (SCIC) prescribes the lower limit for faculty-to-student ratio as 1:9, applied department wise. The IITs subsidise undergraduate student fees by approximately 80% and provide scholarships to all Master of Technology students and Research Scholars in order to encourage students for higher studies, per the recommendations of the Thacker Committee (1959–1961). The cost borne by undergraduate students is around Rs. 180,000 per annum. After students from SC and ST categories, physically challenged students will now[when?] be the beneficiaries of fee waiver at the IITs in India.
The various IITs function autonomously, and their special status as Institutes of National Importance facilitates the smooth running of IITs, virtually free from both regional as well as student politics. Such autonomy means that IITs can create their own curricula and adapt rapidly to the changes in educational requirements, free from bureaucratic hurdles. The government has no direct control over internal policy decisions of IITs (like faculty recruitment and curricula) but has representation on the IIT Council. The medium of instruction in all IITs is English. The classes are usually held between 7:30 am and 5:30 pm, though there are some variations within each IIT. All the IITs have public libraries for the use of their students. In addition to a collection of prescribed books, the libraries have sections for fiction and other literary genres. The electronic libraries allow students to access on-line journals and periodicals. The IITs and IISc have taken an initiative along with Ministry of Human Resource Development to provide free online videos of actual lectures of different disciplines under National Program on Technology Enhanced Learning. This initiative is undertaken to make quality education accessible to all students.
The academic policies of each IIT are decided by its Senate. This comprises all professors of the IIT and student representatives. Unlike many western universities that have an elected senate, the IITs have an academic senate. It controls and approves the curriculum, courses, examinations and results, and appoints committees to look into specific academic matters. The teaching, training and research activities of the institute are periodically reviewed by the senate to maintain educational standards. The Director of an IIT is the ex-officio Chairman of the Senate.
Central Library, IIT Roorkee All the IITs follow the credits system of performance evaluation, with proportional weighting of courses based on their importance. The total marks (usually out of 100) form the basis of grades, with a grade value (out of 10) assigned to a range of marks. Sometimes, relative grading is done considering the overall performance of the whole class. For each semester, the students are graded on a scale of 0 to 10 based on their performance, by taking a weighted average of the grade points from all the courses, with their respective credit points. Each semester evaluation is done independently and then the weighted average over all semesters is used to calculate the cumulative grade point average (known as CGPA or CPI—Cumulative Performance Index).
The Bachelor of Technology (BTech) degree is the most common undergraduate degree in the IITs in terms of student enrollment, although dual degrees integrating Master of Science or Master of Arts are also offered. The BTech course is based on a 4-year program with eight semesters, while the Dual Degree and Integrated courses are 5-year programs with ten semesters. In all IITs, the first year of BTech and Dual Degree courses are marked by a common course structure for all the students, though in some IITs, a single department introduction related course is also included. The common courses include the basics from most of the departments like Electronics, Mechanics, Chemistry, Electrical and Physics. At the end of first year (the end of first semester at IIT Madras, IIT Hyderabad and IIT Roorkee), an option to change departments is given to meritorious students on the basis of their performance in the first two semesters. Few such changes ultimately take place as the criteria for them are usually strict, limited to the most meritorious students.
From the second year onwards, the students study subjects exclusively from their respective departments. In addition to these, the students have to take compulsory advanced courses from other departments in order to broaden their education. Separate compulsory courses from humanities and social sciences department, and sometimes management courses are also enforced. In the last year of their studies, most of the students are placed into industries and organisations via the placement process of the respective IIT, though some students opt out of this either when going for higher studies or when they take up jobs by applying to the companies directly.
Postgraduate and Doctoral Education
Master’s degrees and postgraduate diplomas The IITs offer a number of postgraduate programs including Master of Technology (MTech), Master of Business Administration (MBA) (only for engineers and post graduates in science), and Master of Science (MSc). Some IITs offer specialised graduate programmes such as Master of Design (M.Des.), the Post Graduate Diploma in Information Technology (PGDIT), Master in Medical Science and Technology (MMST), Master of City Planning (MCP), Master of Arts (MA), Postgraduate Diploma in Intellectual Property Law (PGDIPL), and the Postgraduate Diploma in Maritime Operation & Management (PGDMOM).
Some of the IITs offer an M.S. (by research) program; the MTech and M.S. are similar to the US universities’ non-thesis (course based) and thesis (research based) masters programs respectively. Admissions to masters programs in engineering are made using scores of the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE), while those to masters programs in science are made using scores of the Joint Admission Test to MSc (JAM).
Several IITs have schools of management offering master’s degrees in management or business administration.
Bachelors-Masters dual degrees The IITs also offer an unconventional BTech and MTech integrated educational program called “Dual Degree”. It integrates undergraduate and postgraduate studies in selected areas of specialisation. It is completed in five years as against six years in conventional BTech (four years) followed by an MTech (two years). Integrated Master of Science programs are also offered at few IITs which integrates the Undergraduate and Postgraduate studies in Science streams in a single degree program against the conventional University system. These programs were started to allow IITians to complete postgraduate studies from IIT rather than having to go to another institute.
Doctoral degrees The IITs also offer the Doctor of Philosophy degree (PhD) as part of their doctoral education programme. In it, the candidates are given a topic of academic interest by the professor or have to work on a consultancy project given by the industries. The duration of the program is usually unspecified and depends on the specific discipline. PhD candidates have to submit a dissertation as well as provide an oral defence for their thesis. Teaching Assistantships (TA) and Research Assistantships (RA) are often provided.
The IITs, along with NITs and IISc, account for nearly 80% of all engineering PhDs in India. IITs now allow admission in PhD programs without the mandatory GATE score.