The Indian Institutes of Technology need to hire regular foreign faculty to break into top global rankings, IIT Delhi Director V. Ramgopal Rao says.
In an interview with The Hindu , Professor Rao underlined the need for the brightest minds to pursue research rather than land a finance job or earn an MBA degree.
Asked why the IITs are still not ranked high in global rankings, he said the IIT Delhi — recently awarded the institute of eminence tag by the Centre — scored zero in three of the five ranking parameters. “In the QS rankings, out of the five ranking parameters, in three — foreign faculty, foreign students and faculty-student ratio — we get zero. One parameter in which we score very well is the research impact, where we score almost 90 out of 100. The fifth parameter is perception. There again we don’t do very well: we got 40-50 out of 100,” he said. “We rank 38-39 in research in the QS rankings. We need to improve on the parameters that are pulling our rank down.”
Prof. Rao said the way ahead was to permit recruitment of regular foreign faculty so that they made up 25% of the faculty strength of these institutes. “Having foreign faculty here will also improve our faculty-student ratio. Till now, the government did not allow government jobs to be given to a foreigner. At most, you can give a contract position...”
He said a foreign recruit on a teaching contract could not guide Ph.D. students, for he may leave before they submit their thesis.
“Right now, we have 300 faculty positions vacant at IIT Delhi — about 40% of our faculty strength. In all IITs, there are 5,000 faculty positions vacant,” Prof. Rao said.
“We are not finding good people. If we open it up for foreigners, many good people will start applying. That will change the perception and improve our faculty-student ratio.”
‘Too much Indian’
“Once somebody comes from these countries, students also begin to apply. Our problem is being too much Indian. With that you cannot aspire for a global ranking,” he added.
Underlining that there were now 2,900 Ph.D. students in IIT Delhi, he said the brightest students should pursue research. “The reason for our faculty shortage is that our brightest students are not pursuing a career in research. After B.Tech they do a finance job, do an MBA... They are looking at pay packages but not [thinking in] the long term.”
There are about 5,000 faculty positions vacant... We are not finding good people. If we open it up for foreigners, many good people will start applying
V. Ramgopal Rao
IIT Delhi Director