IITs battling with faculty crunch; short of 2500 teachers

The premier technical education institutes – Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are grappling with the issue of faculty crunch. The two new directors at the IIT in Delhi and Roorkee are struggling with an acute shortage of faculty. 

Prof R.K. Shevgaonkar, who took over as director at IIT-Delhi said, “IITs all over the country need 2,500 faculty members immediately to catch up with the standard student-to-teacher ratio of 10:1. Every IIT is short of 30% faculty, he says. This has happened due to addition of 54% seats to accommodate more students in the OBC quota in the past few years. IIT-Delhi has 416 faculty members against the required 800 teachers.”

“This is the scenario despite the 107 faculty it has hired from across the world in the past four years. These are Indians with foreign degrees. IITs are not allowed to hire foreign nationals as permanent or full-time faculty, said Prof M Balakrishnan, deputy director (faculty), IIT-Delhi. 

Another director Pradipta Banerji, who took charge of IIT-Roorkee on October 14, 2011 is bothered by 1:18 teacher-student ratio at Roorkee. “The sanctioned faculty strength at IIT-Roorkee is 900 and we are not even half-way through We are already in talks with alumni networks to look for talent. Why just abroad, we can look at hiring quality faculty members from other educational institutes in India,” he added.

The shortage of faculty is due to the expansion of IITs. However, over a decade, the new institutions will create new scientists and engineers that can serve as faculty in IITs. 

The director of IIT-Kanpur, Sanjay Dhande, who was in Washington DC for the Indo-US Higher Education Summit, was busy scouting for talent there. He has already identified two young professors as potential hires. IIT-Kanpur has one of the better student to-teacher ratios at 13:1 with 350 faculty members, but it is still some distance away from the required numbers. 

IIT-Kanpur Director Sanjay Dhande thinks people can’t just walk into an IIT and start teaching. “People who can be groomed need to be brought on board. It is the failure of academic leadership if there is a paucity of talent,” he said.

The younger IITs story is no different opined IIT-Guwahati Director Gautam Barua. Started in 1994, it has 295 faculty members against the 385 that it needs. “Shortages are more pronounced in certain disciplines and sub-disciplines. There is a paucity of faculty talent in chemistry, design, computer sciences and bigger shortages in sub-areas such as database networks,” Barua remarked.

However, Barua said that institute is using social media to find talent because of lack of alumni network.

While most of the older IITs rely a great deal on their alumni networks to hunt for talent, newer IITs do not have that option. IIT-Hyderabad is the only exception. Started in 2008, the institute has maintained the 10:1 student teacher ratio with 76 full-time faculty members catering to 770 students. Of this, 35% are fresh PhDs. Majority of them have been hired in the past two years. While 65% got PhDs from India the rest did PhD works abroad. 

“There is no harm in hiring fresh PhDs if they have high potential and have done quality research,” says Uday Desai, director of IIT-Hyderabad. “It’s a challenge to get quality faculty, but we have worked hard to acquire talent. Other IITs too are expanding and will require more faculties,” he said. 

[Source: Economic Times]


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