With almost 90 percent of the 3,415 engineering colleges countrywide promoted and managed by private edupreneurs, it makes eminent good sense to separate the sheep from goats among India’s private engineering institutes, to enable parents and students to assess and evaluate them inter se - Summiya Yasmeen
ADDRESSING A PRESS conference in New Delhi on April 8, Anil Sahasrabudhe, chairman of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the apex regulatory body for technical education, revealed that student enrolment in the country’s 3,415 engineering institutions has been falling during the past two years. In 2015-16, the total undergraduate intake capacity was 1.6 million, against which aggregate enrolment was 860,357. In 2016-17, against the intake capacity of 1.5 million, enrolment was 787,127. “This year too the gap will be 80,000 seats. Around 200 colleges have applied for closure as they’ve been experiencing very low admissions in the recent past,” said Sahasrabudhe, who added that 50 engineering colleges closed down in 2016-17.
According to industry experts, a major cause of declining student enrolments is that a huge number of licenced engineering colleges are certifying unemployable graduates. The National Employability Report 2016 of Aspiring Minds Assessment Pvt. Ltd — a Delhi-based employability evaluation and certification company — indicates that 80 percent of engineers certified by engineering and technology colleges every year are unemployable. Most of these under-trained engineers end up in low-end jobs in non-engineering fields, or are unemployed.
With the passage of time, it is becoming increasingly clear that the prime cause of the rising tide of unemployed engineering graduates is huge variation in the quality of education being dispensed by a large number of engineering colleges which have been recklessly licenced by AICTE over the past decade. Their number has almost doubled from 1,511 in 2006-07 to 3,415 in 2016-17. Now confronted with a huge quality crisis in engineering education, AICTE has announced that by 2022, at least 50 percent of all study programmes offered by technical education institutions across the country will have to be accredited by the National Board of Accreditation (NBA). “Just 15 percent of engineering programmes offered in the country are accredited by NBA. AICTE, as part of its various quality initiatives, has decided that by 2022, the majority of courses will have to be accredited by NBA,” says Sahasrabudhe.
Against this backdrop of plunging standards of engineering education — especially among unsupervised private colleges which have mushroomed across the country — in 2013 EducationWorld took the lead to publish pan-India rankings of the country’s most respected engineering colleges, excluding the heavily-subsidised and well-funded Central government-promoted Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and National Institutes of Technology (NITs), which offer NBA-accredited programmes, attract high-quality faculty and provide enabling infrastructure. Leagues ahead of other engineering colleges, they monotonously top all media league tables and attract the top 1 percent of school-leavers who clear their super-tough open entrance exams. Therefore, with almost 90 percent of the 3,415 engineering colleges promoted and managed by private entrepreneurs, it made eminent good sense to separate the sheep from goats among the country’s private engineering colleges to enable parents and students to assess and evaluate them.
As usual, the EW India Private Engineering Institutes Rankings (EWIPEI) 2018-19 survey was conducted by the Delhi-based Centre for Forecasting and Research Pvt. Ltd (C fore, estb.2000), one of the country’s premier market research and public opinion polls companies (which also conducts the sui generis annual EducationWorld India School Rankings and EW India Preschool Rankings). Over 100 C fore field staff interviewed 1,134 faculty and 1,255 final year students of engineering colleges and 487 industry representatives countrywide. The respondents were asked to rate and rank engineering institutes (of whom they had sufficient knowledge) on nine parameters of excellence including placements, competence of faculty, research and innovation, curriculum and pedagogy, industry interface, value for money, infrastructure, faculty welfare, leadership and governance. Low-profile institutions rated by less than 25 respondents are not ranked.
For the third consecutive year, the pioneer Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani (estb.1964) is ranked India’s #1 private engineering institution/university (a deemed university, BITS-Pilani is also separately ranked #2 among private universities, see pg. 46) in the EW Higher Education Rankings 2018-19. Moreover, the BITS-Pilani Hyderabad campus is separately ranked #17, same as last year, and Goa campus #22 (#27) in this year’s Top 100 private engineering institutes league table. The 2,876 knowledgeable respondents polled by C fore have also ranked BITS-Pilani #1 on the parameters of industry interface, placements record and value for money.
It’s a matter of great pride for all of us that BITS-Pilani is consistently top-ranked among the country’s non-government institutions of higher education in most quality surveys conducted by reputed agencies in India and abroad. The EW sample respondents included faculty, industry representatives and final year students from across the country. Such extensive participation of stakeholders makes your rankings credible. Therefore, we are delighted that the BITS model of education which focuses on industry engagement, research and infrastructure as the prerequisites of institutional excellence, has been endorsed by your informed respondents,” says Dr. Souvik Bhattacharyya, vice chancellor of BITS-Pilani. An alumnus of Jadavpur, Cincinnati and Texas A&M universities, Bhattacharyya served as vice chancellor of Jadavpur University, Kolkata and deputy director of IIT-Kharagpur, prior to taking charge at BITS-Pilani in 2016.
While there is no change at the top, further down the Top 10 table of India’s best private engineering institutions of 2018-19, there’s been a rearrangement of seating. The International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad (IIIT-H) is promoted to #2 (#3 in 2017) while the Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) has slipped to #3 (2) with the Thapar Institute of Engineering & Technology, Patiala, ranked #4 and Manipal Institute of Technology at #5 exchanging their 2017 rankings. Moreover, the PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore, has risen in public esteem and is ranked #5 (6) followed by the Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information & Communication Technology, Gandhinagar (Gujarat) at #7, SSN College of Engineering, Kalavakkam (Chennai) at #8, RV College of Engineering, Bangalore at #9 and Birla Institute of Technology (BIT), Mesra (Bihar) at #10.
Dr. P.J. Narayanan, director of the International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad (IIIT-H, estb.1998), the country’s first ICT (information communication technologies) engineering college promoted under the public-private partnership model, is pleased with the institute’s #2 overall ranking and #1 rating under the parameter of curriculum and pedagogy awarded by EW’s 2,876 knowledgeable respondents. “The promotion to #2 is well deserved. IIIT-H is a research university with an R&D culture not only at the postgrad Ph D levels but also in undergrad education. We believe deep research results in high-quality teaching and better teaching produces stronger researchers. Our #1 rank for curriculum and pedagogy reflects this research focus, with students conducting research from the bachelor’s level onwards. IIIT-Hyderabad has the largest research team in artificial intelligence in India with over 25 top-class faculty and 150 researchers. Our institutional goal is to be ranked among the top research institutions of the world in the next decade,” says Narayanan, an alum of IIT-Kharagpur and the University of Maryland, and formerly professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon University, USA who was appointed director of IIIT-H in 2013.
Dr. R. Rudramoorthy, principal of the PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore (estb. 1951) is “delighted” with the top scores awarded to this vintage college of technology under the parameters of faculty competence, infrastructure provision and leadership/governance. “PSG is consistently ranked among the best engineering institutions of India. Our fundamentals are strong and we pull out all stops in terms of providing enabling infrastructure to deliver high-quality engineering education to our students. I am especially pleased with our top ratings for faculty competence and infrastructure provision. Our 600-strong faculty is highly qualified and committed to delivering outcomes-based practical education. And they are supported by excellent laboratories and research centres, and over 40 industry-supported Centres of Excellence in various fields of engineering and technology. As an autonomous institution of Anna University, Chennai, we are empowered to design our own curriculums which are updated every four years in close consultation with industry,” says Rudramoorthy.
With the southern state of Tamil Nadu (516) and Maharashtra (370) hosting the largest number of private engineering colleges in the country followed by Karnataka (212), it’s hardly surprising that colleges sited in these three states dominate the national league table. Tamil Nadu has 21 private engineering colleges ranked among the Top 100; Maharashtra 18 and Karnataka 17.
Institutions which have risen substantially in public esteem in the EWIPEI Rankings 2018-19 are the Jaypee Institute of Information Technology University, Noida to #23 (from #30 last year), JSS Academy of Technical Education, Noida to #26 (39), Hindustan Institute of Engineering & Science, Chennai #31 (56), Gokaraju Rangaraju Institute of Engineering and Technology, Hyderabad to #47 (80), and Universal College of Engineering, Thane to #55 (70).
Moreover, it’s important to bear in mind that although some engineering colleges are modestly ranked nationally, they are highly ranked in their states, some of whom are more populous than the average European country. For instance, the Vivekanand Education Society’s Institute of Technology, Mumbai ranked #29 nationally is ranked #1 in Maharashtra. Ditto the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT University), Bhubaneswar (ranked #32 nationally) is ranked Odisha’s #1 engineering college in 2018-19.
Yet despite being ranked among the Top 10 engineering institutes of Maharashtra — the country’s most industrially advanced state (pop. 115 million), Dr. N.T. Rao, dean of the Mukesh Patel School of Technology Management and Engineering (MPSTME), believes that the school deserves higher national and state ranking. “Considering our achievements and potential, we should have been ranked among the Top 5 in Maharashtra. MPSTME is a constituent institution of NMIMS University which is ranked among the country’s Top 15 private universities by EducationWorld. MPSTME provides high-quality engineering education with the involvement of some of India’s most respected corporates right from the stage of syllabus formulation to internships, to develop students’ practical engineering skills. Moreover, we were the first institute to introduce a five-year MBA Tech program to meet industry’s requirement for managers with engineering capabilities and business management education. However with NMIMS University having been accorded autonomous status by UGC, we will now have full academic autonomy to formulate our curriculums and syllabuses, pursue research projects and international collaborations, and introduce new programmes. Operational autonomy will improve our ranking next year,” says Rao
In the pages following, we present national and state league tables, and ratings and rankings of the Top 10 engineering colleges under nine parameters of academic excellence.
With Hemalatha Raghupathi (Chennai)