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Students, Universities and International Academia

The top universities rankings employ about 10 carefully calibrated performance indicators to provide the most comprehensive and balanced comparisons available, which are trusted by students, academics, university leaders, industry and governments.

1.) Teaching: the learning environment
2.) Research: volume, income and reputation
3.) Citations: research influence
4.) Industry income: innovation
5.) International outlook: staff, students and research
6.) Infrastructure: Labs,lecture halls,other building and hostels

Now here’s my answer, why they are much behind than world’s other universities!

When students enter IITs, they’ve already gone through at least 2 years(sometimes even 6 or 7 years)of grueling training in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. Having cleared the highly competitive entrance exams, these students belong to the top 1-2% of their age-group, and are usually at their ‘peak’ in terms of smartness or IQ-levels. So at the time of joining, I would place IITians and freshmen at top USA universities at a similar footing or at a little higher footage because JEE questions are tougher than SAT questions.

Four years later, however, the story is quite different, and the average graduate student of those top universities is far ahead of the average IITian in terms of smartness, practical knowledge of one’s subject and the ability to apply the knowledge in real-life situations. This is because of a vast difference in the learning environment and student culture at Indian institutes and at MIT.

Indian students, on entering college, think the worst is behind them (remember, they’ve cleared one of the most competitive exams on the planet) and decide to slack off. This is also because of enormous societal pressure on these students to get into these premier institutes, as getting into an IIT is viewed as a guarantee of a successful life and a bright future. 

Few students display the same level of sincerity as they did while preparing for the entrance tests, and fewer still make an attempt to actually learn and apply the material being taught.students

  • More importance to GPA and not on research:-
    There is a huge amount of hype and importance given to one’s GPA, as it is the sole method of measuring and evaluating one’s performance. This leads to a blind race to the top, where most students employ strategies aimed at maximizing one’s marks rather than maximizing one’s learning.
    Students resort to rote-learning techniques and other similar shortcuts in an attempt to cram as much as possible the night before an exam, and those able to do so in a short span of time are usually the ones at the top of the class. This same strategy is adopted to all courses irrespective of their nature, the result being that many students graduate with a sub-standard knowledge of their subject (not to mention poor soft-skills) and are branded ‘unemployable’.
  • The Present condition of RESEARCH in India:-
    If you want to pursue research in India , you get a stipend of only 84k rs per year which is far below than any other decent job, This might be the reason why highly passionate IITians with great IQ levels do not opt for research.Some IITians who are really passionate about science join MIT ,Stanford or Oxford.
  • Course structure:-
    The course structure at these institutes is also to blame, where many courses demand that you learn a large amount of information by rote and spill it out during the exam.
  • Corruption:-
    According to Indian government they provide 10 lacs per head per year to IITs for research, extra curricular activities,high tech labs and technology but this hungry corrupt ministers and corrupt people put money in their pocket and actual 10 lacs don’t reach to institutes.
  • Faculties:-
    Let’s compare professors of IITs with professors at world’s best institutes.
    MIT, Tim Berners Lee the one who invented Internet or CMU or Stanford,Robert Tarjan won a turing award.
    Or Harvard, Mark Zuckerberg the founder of facebook.
    Or Cornell,John Hopcraft is a turing award winner!!
    All IITs have to brag about is a lot of great alumni,but not many professors.
    Well this about great professors but some Profs are below average.And mainly focus on completing syllabus on time not on student’s learning. That’s also problem.
    Aren’t what professors what make an institution great?
  • Resources:-
    Relatively (and pretty extremely) high resources per student capita as a result of endowments worth billions of dollars with relatively miniscule siphoning/corruption, a few more centuries of time and low population. And I will tell you budget of MIT or Berekely is less than all 16 IITs’ combined budget.
  • Worthless experiments:-
    Practicals are done with little innovation or margin for change: Even if the students have some genuine idea for changing the parameter of a particular experiment, it is seldom carried out in practice by the lab technicians or encouraged by the professor.
    And the same old experiments that are being done since decades.
  • Infrastructure:-
    Well about infrastructures of IITs one knows. how poor all labs and equipments are(IITB now just made new labs for first year lab courses)
  • Less Emphasis on teamwork:-
    You cannot build a rocket, fly it to the moon, land a human and bring him safely back on your own. While creativity and analytics is of great importance, the most complex engineering projects in human history from the International Space Station to the Deepwater Horizon oil rig have critically hinged on team dynamics and leadership. Top schools in the US have a lot of team-based classwork and projects to instill these capabilities (e.g. communication, work splitting+combining, team diversity, etc.). The IITs, sailing on blind competition, severely hinder students’ abilities to cooperate and collaborate effectively outside of techfests, robotics competitions and the like.This is true of all universities in India.

No Academic Freedom 

Here in India we don’t have that trend of “Be what you wanna be”. You can’t pursue what you wish to , but you pursue what you are asked to. The institutions in the west have a really flexible curriculum. And that is what makes them better than us.

  1. No Research facility: This is where we have the major problem. We have a very less focus on research,which is because of a less qualified faculty (Compare faculties from our universities and the Nobel laureates. we can’t ), infrastructure, equipment’s.
  2. Innovation: In my view foreign universities (i mean their students ) featuring in the global top 100 are Creative, Innovative, have an out of the box thinking. This Innovation comes from the above mentioned points, when we have an academic freedom and an outstanding research facility and flexible environment to apply our thoughts.While we focus more on employ-ability, western institutions give weight-age to noble laureates and research. We focus more getting jobs , they create jobs. Majority of students here, think of getting into Microsoft ,While the students there create Facebook, YouTube. That’s being Innovative!
  3. Funding : Another major issue is that our Indian universities are far less funded than the west. The top 5-6 universities  of west combined have a budget which is more than our education budget.
  4. Top Management : The selection of the top management in our universities is much more political than on merit or expertise.

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Although there has been an improvement in our education system in the last decade (but i think that’s very much little, and its nothing to rejoice about ! ).

What can be the solution

I think we are very much talented and can make wonders happen (which is why we see many Indians acquiring top roles in prestigious universities, companies & institutions), but only talent is not enough . It has to be exploited, Top universities like Harvard, CMU exploit their students. How ? By having World Class Professors and Institutions.
We need to build a community, a generation of researchers and innovators to compete with best institutions around the world.

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