As surprising as it sounds, the student-teacher ratio at the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology is as low as 15:1 with 35% vacancies in the sanctioned faculty posts.
Although the dream is to get IITs ranked among the top international universities, the premier institutes are lagging behind in the basic staffing standards.
Prakash Javadekar, HRD minister will address this concern at the IIT council meeting that will be held on August 23. Hiring Ph.D. students as faculty is also being considered as an option. Among other solutions, inviting identifier members of the industry to teach for one or two semesters is also being considered.
A highly acceptable option would be inviting foreign faculty to teach at the premier institutes.
Imbalance in the student-faculty ratio is one of the foremost reasons behind the poor performance of IITs in global rankings. The number one institute in World University Rankings 2015, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), has 6.9 student-teacher ratio.
Out of the 7 IITs that made it to these rankings, IIT-Bombay and IIT-Delhi are among the top and even they lie in the 351-500 rank section. Student-teacher ratio at IIT-Bombay is 14:1 whereas at IIT-Delhi is 16:1.
The situation needs immediate attention, said the MHRD as there are plans to add 30,000 off-campus students to the 18 IITs by 2020 and if the issue is not resolved now then it will become more complex.
It is probable that more teaching positions will be assigned targeting the IITs having a poor ratio.
However, Pradipta Banerji, Director, IIT Roorkee, said that the IITs have a reputation to maintain and therefore a bar has been set for shortlisting permanent faculty members that cannot be compromised.
A former IIT Director contended that even though the lack of faculty effects the global rankings, it does not depreciate the quality of education that the institutes offer to its students. This is one of the reasons that maintaining the recruiting standards is essential.
Regardless of this ratio, engineering aspirants in India etch to study in these institutes. 72,000 students are currently studying at various IITs in India.