The National Institutes of Technology (NITs) are autonomous public institutes of higher education, located in India. They are governed by the National Institutes of Technology Act, 2007, which declared them as institutions of national importance alongside Indian Institutes of Technology. These institutes of national importance receive special recognition from the Government of India. The NIT Council is the supreme governing body of India’s National Institutes of Technology (NIT) system and all 31 NITs are funded by the Government of India. These institutes are among the top ranked engineering colleges in India and have one of the lowest acceptance rates for engineering institutes, of around 2 to 3 percent, second only to the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in India. All NITs are autonomous which enables them to set up their own curriculum. The language of instruction is English at all these institutes.
NITs offer degree courses at bachelors, masters, and doctorate levels in various branches of engineering, architecture, management and science. Admission to the under-graduate courses such as Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech.) and Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch) programs in NITs are through the highly competitive Joint Entrance Examination (Main). Admission to postgraduate courses are through the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering for Master of Technology (M.Tech.) and Master of Science (M.Sc.) programs, Common Admission Test for Master of Business Administration (MBA) program and NIMCET for Master of Computer Applications (MCA) program.
Since 2015, the Joint Seat Allocation Authority and Centralized Counselling for M.Tech/M.Arch and M.Plan conduct the admission process for undergraduate and postgraduate programs respectively in all NITs. As of 2017, the total number of seats for undergraduate programs is 19,000 and for post graduate programs is 8,050 in all 31 NITs.
NITs and Locations
Education at NITS
The NITs along with the IITs receive comparatively higher grants than other engineering colleges in India. Average NIT funding increased to ₹100 crores ($15.4 million) by year 2011. On average, each NIT also receives ₹ 20-25 crore ($3-3.8 million) under World Bank funded Technical Education Quality Improvement Program (TEQIP I and TEQIP II). Other sources of funds include student fees and research funding from industry and contributions from the alumni. The faculty-to-student ratio in the NITs is between 1:7 and 1:9. The cost borne by undergraduate students is around ₹ 125,000 ($1934) per annum. After students from SC and ST categories, physically challenged students will now be the beneficiaries of fee waiver at the NITs in India.
The various NITs function autonomously, and their special status as Institutes of National Importance facilitates the smooth running of NITs, virtually free from both regional as well as student politics. Such autonomy means that NITs can create their own curricula and adapt rapidly to the changes in educational requirements, free from bureaucratic hurdles. The medium of instruction in all NITs is English. The classes are usually held between 8:30 am and 5:30 pm, though there are some variations within each NIT. All the NITs 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. Electronic libraries allow students access to online journals and other periodicals through the AICTE-INDEST consortium, an initiative by the Ministry of Human Resource Development. Students also have access to IEEE documents and journals.
The academic policies of each NIT are decided by its Senate. This comprises all professors of the NIT and student representatives. Unlike many western universities that have an elected senate, the NITs 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 NIT is the ex-officio Chairman of the Senate.
Stringent faculty recruitment and industry collaboration also contribute to NIT success. Faculty other than lecturers must have a Ph.D. and relevant teaching and industry experience. Existing faculty who do not meet these criteria enroll under a Quality Improvement Programme (QIP) at IITs and IISc.
All the NITs 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 (CGPA).
Undergraduate Education at the NITs
The Bachelor of Technology (BTech) degree is the most common undergraduate degree in the NITs in terms of student enrollment. 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 NITs, the first year of BTech and Dual Degree courses are marked by a common course structure for all the students, though in some NITs, 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, some NITs offer an option to the meritorious students to change departments 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. Few NITs also offer 5-year Bachelor of Architecture (BArch) and 4-year Bachelor of Science (BSc) degrees.
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 NIT, 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.