Indian Institutes of Technology

Location of IITs
Location of IITs

The Indian Institutes of Technology (Hindi: भारतीय प्रौद्योगिकी संस्थान), or IITs, are a group of seven autonomous engineering and technology oriented institutes of higher education established and declared as Institutes of National Importance by the Government of India. The IITs were created to train scientists and engineers, with the aim of developing a skilled workforce to support the economic and social development of India after independence in 1947. The students and alumni of IITs are colloquially referred to as IITians.

In order of establishment, the seven IITs are located at Kharagpur, Mumbai (Bombay), Chennai (Madras), Kanpur, Delhi, Guwahati, and Roorkee. Some IITs were established with financial assistance and technical expertise from UNESCO, Germany, the United States, and the Soviet Union. Each IIT is an autonomous university, linked to the others through a common IIT Council, which oversees their administration. They have a common admission process for undergraduate admissions, using the Joint Entrance Examination (popularly known as IIT-JEE) to select around 4,000 undergraduate candidates a year. Graduate Admissions are done on the basis of the GATE. About 15,500 undergraduate and 12,000 graduate students study in the seven IITs, in addition to research scholars.

IITians have achieved success in a variety of professions, resulting in the establishment of the widely recognised Brand IIT.[1] The autonomy of the IITs has helped them to create specialised degrees in technology at the undergraduate level, and consequently to award the Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech.) degree, as opposed to the Bachelor of Engineering (BE) degree awarded by most other Indian universities. The success of the IITs has led to the creation of similar institutes in other fields, such as the National Institutes of Technology, the Indian Institutes of Management and the Institutes of Information Technology and Management (IIIT).

The Indian Union Human Resources Development ministry has planned to set up three more Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) — one each in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan.



The Institutes

Main Building of IIT Kharagpur
Main Building of IIT Kharagpur

The seven IITs are located in Kharagpur, Bombay, Madras, Kanpur, Delhi, Guwahati, and Roorkee. With the plan to setup three more IITs in Rajasthan, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh, the total number of IITs will get increased to 10. All IITs are autonomous universities that draft their own curricula, and they are, with the exception of IIT Kanpur, members of LAOTSE, an international network of universities in Europe and Asia. LAOTSE membership allows the IITs to exchange students and senior scholars with universities in other countries.[2]

IIT Kharagpur was the first of the IITs. Established in 1951, it is in Kharagpur (near Kolkata) in the state of West Bengal. It has 29 academic departments, centres and schools, spread over a 8.5 km² (2,100 acre) campus that is a self-contained township of over 15,000 inhabitants. It has about 450 faculty, 2,200 employees, 3,000 undergraduates and 2,500 postgraduates. The students live in 17 hostels (called Halls of Residence). IIT Kharagpur also has a management school (Vinod Gupta School of Management) and a law school (Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law) within its premises. Its central library is the largest technical library in Asia.[3]

Main Building of IIT Bombay
Main Building of IIT Bombay

The next IIT to be established, IIT Bombay, was founded in 1958 in Powai, Mumbai (Bombay). It was set up with assistance from UNESCO and the Soviet Union, which provided technical expertise. The Indian government underwrote all other expenses, including the construction costs.[4] With an area of 2.23 km² (550 acres) and a total of 24 departments, centres and schools, it is the largest university in the state of Maharashtra. In addition, IIT Bombay has 13 student hostels with about 2,200 undergraduate and 2,000 postgraduate students. IIT Bombay also has schools in management (Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management) and information technology (Kanwal Rekhi School of Information Technology) on its premises. Despite a change in the name of the city, the IIT retains the original name.

IIT Madras is located in the city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu. It was established in 1959 with technical assistance from the Government of West Germany[5] and has nearly 360 faculty and approximately 2,500 undergraduate and 2,000 postgraduate students. The campus is spread over an area of about 2.5 km² (620 acres), and has 15 academic departments, nearly 100 laboratories, and 14 hostels. As with IIT Bombay, it retains its original name despite a change in the name of its city.

Mathematics department in IIT Delhi
Mathematics department in IIT Delhi

IIT Kanpur was established in 1959 in the city of Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. During its first 10 years, IIT Kanpur benefited from the Kanpur–Indo-American Programme, where a consortium of nine US universities helped to set up the research laboratories and academic programmes.[6] It covers an area of 4.85 km² (1,200 acres). It has approximately 500 faculty members, and about 2,000 undergraduate and an equal number of postgraduate students live in 10 hostels.

Established as the College of Engineering in 1961, IIT Delhi was given the current name and declared an Institution of National Importance under the "Institutes of Technology (Amendment) Act, 1963".[7] It is located in Hauz Khas (New Delhi) and has an area of 1.3 km² (320 acres). It has 11 hostels and 26 departments, centres and schools. It has 426 faculty members and approximately 2,200 undergraduate and 1,600 postgraduate students.

Panoramic view of IIT Guwahati
Panoramic view of IIT Guwahati

IIT Guwahati was established in 1994 near the city of Guwahati (Assam) on the northern banks of the Brahmaputra River. The sprawling 2.85 km² (705 acres) campus attracts many visitors because of its scenic beauty.[8] There are approximately 1,300 undergraduate and 500 postgraduate students in 18 departments, which have a total of 152 faculty members.[9]

IIT Roorkee, originally known as the University of Roorkee, was established in 1847 as the first engineering college of the British Empire.[10] Located in Uttaranchal, the college was renamed The Thomason College of Civil Engineering in 1854 and was granted IIT status in 2001. The institute offers undergraduate degree courses in 10 disciplines of engineering and architecture, and postgraduate degrees in 55 disciplines. It has 375 faculty members. The campus is about 1.45 km² (360 acres) in size and has eight hostels.


Establishment and development

The office of the Hijli Detention Camp (photographed September 1951) served as the first academic building of IIT Kharagpur
The office of the Hijli Detention Camp (photographed September 1951) served as the first academic building of IIT Kharagpur

The history of the IIT system dates back to 1946 when Sir Jogendra Singh of the Viceroy's Executive Council set up a committee whose task was to consider the creation of Higher Technical Institutions for post-war industrial development in India. The 22-member committee, headed by Nalini Ranjan Sarkar, recommended the establishment of these institutions in various parts of India, with affiliated secondary institutions. The committee felt that such institutes should not only produce undergraduates, but researchers and academics. The institutes were expected to maintain high educational standards.

With these recommendations in view, the first Indian Institute of Technology was founded in May 1950 at the site of the Hijli Detention Camp in Kharagpur. On September 15 1956, the Parliament of India passed the Indian Institute of Technology (Kharagpur) Act, declaring it as an Institute of National Importance. Jawaharlal Nehru, first Prime Minister of India, in the first convocation address of IIT Kharagpur in 1956 said:[11]

Indian Institutes of Technology
Here in the place of that Hijli Detention Camp stands the fine monument of India, representing India's urges, India's future in the making. This picture seems to me symbolical of the changes that are coming to India.
Indian Institutes of Technology

On the recommendations of the Sarkar Committee, four campuses were established at Mumbai (1958), Chennai (1959), Kanpur (1959), and Delhi (1961). The location of these campuses was chosen to be scattered throughout India to prevent regional imbalance.[12] The Indian Institutes of Technology Act was amended to reflect the addition of new IITs.[13] Student agitations in the state of Assam made Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi promise the creation of a new IIT in Assam. This led to a sixth campus at Guwahati under the Assam Accord in 1994. The University of Roorkee, India's oldest engineering college, was conferred IIT status in 2001.

Institute of Technology (Banaras Hindu University) is a candidate to become an IIT.
Institute of Technology (Banaras Hindu University) is a candidate to become an IIT.

Over the past few years, there have been a number of developments toward establishing new IITs. On October 1 2003, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced plans to create more IITs "by upgrading existing academic institutions that have the necessary promise and potential".[14] Subsequent developments led to the formation of the S K Joshi Committee in November 2003 to guide the selection of the five institutions which would become the five new IITs.

Based on the initial recommendations of the Sarkar Committee, it was decided that further IITs should be spread throughout the country. When the government expressed its willingness to correct this regional imbalance, 16 states demanded IITs. Since the S K Joshi Committee prescribed strict guidelines for institutions aspiring to be IITs,[15] only seven colleges were selected for final consideration.[16] Plans are also reported to open IITs outside India, though not enough progress has been made in this regard.[17] The Union human resource development ministry has now planned to set up three more Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) — in Rajasthan, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh.


Organisational structure

Organisational Structure of IITs
Organisational Structure of IITs

The President of India is the most powerful person in the organisational structure of IITs, being the ex officio Visitor,[18] and having residual powers. Directly under the President is the IIT Council, which comprises of the minister-in-charge of technical education in the Union Government, the Chairmen of all IITs, the Directors of all IITs, the Chairman of the University Grants Commission, the Director General of CSIR, the Chairman of IISc, the Director of IISc, three members of Parliament, the Joint Council Secretary of Ministry of Human Resource and Development, and three appointees each of the Union Government, AICTE, and the Visitor.[19]

Under the IIT Council is the Board of Governors of each IIT. Under the Board of Governors is the Director, who is the chief academic and executive officer of the IIT.[20] Under the Director, in the organisational structure, comes the Deputy Director. Under the Director and the Deputy Director, come the Deans, Heads of Departments, Registrar, President of the Students' Council, and Chairman of the Hall Management Committee. The Registrar is the chief administrative officer of the IIT and overviews the day-to-day operations.[20] Below the Heads of Department (HOD) are the faculty members (Professors, Associate Professors, and Assistant Professors). The Wardens come under the Chairman of the Hall Management Committee.[21]



Admission to most undergraduate and postgraduate courses in IITs is granted through various written entrance examinations. Admission to M.S. and Ph.D. programs is based primarily on a personal interview, though candidates may also have to appear for written tests. The IITs are also well known for their special reservation policy, which stands out in contrast with the rest of India.


Entrance examinations

Entrance of IIT Madras
Entrance of IIT Madras

Admission to undergraduate programs in all IITs is tied to the Joint Entrance Examination, popularly known as IIT-JEE. Candidates who qualify admission via IIT-JEE can apply for admission in B.Tech. (Bachelor of Technology), Dual Degree (Integrated Bachelor of Technology and Master of Technology) and Integrated M.Sc. (Master of Sciences) courses in IITs. IIT-JEE is a science-oriented entrance exam, testing candidate's knowledge of mathematics, physics and chemistry. It is conducted by an IIT chosen by a policy of rotation. Admission is very competitive, given the huge population of India, the undergraduate acceptance rate through JEE has a low ratio, around 1 in 55, with about 300,000[22] annual test takers for about 5,500 seats.[23] Only about 4,000 of these seats are offered by IITs, the rest belonging to other institutes that use IIT-JEE. Only students who have completed (or will complete at the end of the current academic session) their higher secondary studies from a recognised educational board are allowed to appear for IIT-JEE. The IIT-JEE is well known for frequently changing the types of questions asked in order to discourage study by rote. Since IIT-JEE 2006, the format of the question paper was changed to a single objective test-based paper, replacing the earlier system that employed two tests. The candidates belonging to the general category must secure a minimum aggregate of 60% marks in the qualifying examination of the XIIth standard organised by various educational boards of India. Candidates belonging to Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST) and Physically Disabled (PD) categories must secure a minimum aggregate of 55% in the qualifying examination.[24] The upper age limit for appearing for the IIT-JEE is 25 years. The age limit is relaxed to 30 years for candidates classified in the SC, ST and PD categories. Starting with IIT-JEE 2007, a candidate can take IIT-JEE a maximum of two times, and students who are selected for an IIT cannot attempt the examination again.[24]

The admissions into the postgraduate programmes are made through various exams, primarily the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) for M.Tech. and some MS courses. Other prominent entrance exams include JAM (Joint Admission to M.Sc.) for M.Sc., and JMET (Joint Management Entrance Test) for Management Studies.


Reservation policy

India is one of the countries[25] that practices a form of affirmative action (known by critics as reverse discrimination) on caste-based reserved quotas. As per the provisions in the Indian constitution, the IITs have been reserving seats for Scheduled Castes of society since 1973. The IITs follow a reservation policy that is notably different from the quota policy elsewhere in India.

As per the rules of admission to IITs, 15% of the admitted students must be of the Scheduled Castes, and 7.5% of seats are reserved for Scheduled Tribes.[26] As of 2006, no separate reservation exists for the Other Backward Classes (OBCs, a group of castes which, though not untouchable, are socially and economically disadvantaged) in spite of the Mandal commission recommendations. The IITs are not bound to fill these quotas of seats, and many of them remain vacant owing to the nature of selection process. In 2004, 112 out of 279 seats reserved for ST candidates, and 11 out of 556 seats reserved for SC candidates, were left vacant.

As per the rules, all the Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidates must take the IIT-JEE with the rest of the students. Based on the results of IIT-JEE, those SC/ST candidates who score more than two-third of the marks scored by the General Category student admitted with the lowest score are admitted directly to IITs.[26] Another group of candidates who do not meet this relaxed admission criteria are offered a "Preparatory Course" comprising of English, Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics at the IIT concerned. After one year of study, those candidates who are able to secure a grade higher than the prescribed cut-off mark during end-of-semester exams are allowed to continue regular studies. There is no relaxation on the criteria for passing the exams or graduating a course. The candidates admitted through the reservation policy are also subjected to the same criteria as the general candidates for graduation.

In 1989, Prime Minister V. P. Singh accepted and implemented the proposals of the Mandal Commission that recommended provisions of reservations for OBCs in private unaided institutions as well as high-end government jobs for minority communities. No changes took place in the IITs because of the legislation, but in 2005, based on the recommendations of a political panel, the UPA government proposed to implement the reserved-quota system for the OBCs in IITs and IIMs. It received critical objections by BJP and other opposing parties, who described the proposal as "dangerous and divisive".[27] When the government planned to implement the quota system, anti-reservation protests were organised throughout India against the proposal. Student agitations also took place in the IITs and many students who opposed caste-based reservations resorted to hunger strikes. They labelled the quota system as a government tactic to earn cheap votes, and that the system would lead to increased casteism and a severe compromise on merit and talent.[28]

The additional procedures for admission into the IITs (the preparatory course and the qualifying end-of-semester exams that follow) have also been criticised as unnecessary and counter-productive. One of the arguments opposing the modified policy of reservation and favouring direct admission is that a large number of seats remain vacant under the present scheme.[29]



PK Kelkar Library, IIT Kanpur
PK Kelkar Library, IIT Kanpur

The IITs receive disproportionately high grants compared to other engineering colleges in India.[30] While the total government funding to most other engineering colleges is around Rs. 100–200 million per year, the amount varies between Rs. 900–1,300 million per year for each IIT.[16] Other sources of funds include student fees and research funding from industry. This has translated into superior infrastructure and better faculty in the IITs and consequently higher competition among students to gain admissions into the IITs. The faculty-to-student ratio in the IITs is between 1:6 and 1:8.[31] The Standing Committee of IIT Council (SCIC) prescribes the lower limit for faculty-to-student ratio as 1:9, applied department wise. The IITs subsidise undergraduate student fees by approximately 80% and provide scholarships to all Master of Technology students and Research Scholars in order to encourage students for higher studies, per the recommendations of the Thacker Committee (1959–1961).[32] The cost borne by undergraduate students including boarding and mess expenses is around Rs. 50,000 per annum.

The various IITs function autonomously, and their special status as Institutes of National Importance facilitates the smooth running of IITs, virtually free from both regional as well as student politics. Such autonomy means that IITs can create their own curricula and adapt rapidly to the changes in educational requirements, free from bureaucratic hurdles. The government has no direct control over internal policy decisions of IITs (like faculty recruitment and curricula) but has representation on the IIT Council. The medium of instruction in all IITs is English.[33] The classes are usually held between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., though there are some variations within each IIT. All the IITs have public libraries for the use of their students. In addition to a collection of prescribed books, the libraries have sections for fiction and other literary genres. The electronic libraries allow students to access on-line journals and periodicals.

The academic policies of each IIT are decided by its Senate. This comprises all professors of the IIT and student representatives. Unlike many western universities that have an elected senate, the IITs have an academic senate. It controls and approves the curriculum, courses, examinations and results, and appoints committees to look into specific academic matters. The teaching, training and research activities of the institute are periodically reviewed by the senate to maintain educational standards.[34] The Director of an IIT is the ex-officio Chairman of the Senate.

All the IITs follow the credits system of performance evaluation, with proportional weighting of courses based on their importance. The total marks (usually out of 100) form the basis of grades, with a grade value (out of 10) assigned to a range of marks. Sometimes, relative grading is done considering the overall performance of the whole class. For each semester, the students are graded on a scale of 0 to 10 based on their performance, by taking a weighted average of the grade points from all the courses, with their respective credit points. Each semester evaluation is done independently and then the weighted average over all semesters is used to calculate the cumulative grade point average (known as CGPA or CPI—Cumulative Performance Index).


Undergraduate education

The B.Tech. degree is the most common undergraduate degree in the IITs in terms of student enrolment, although Dual Degrees and Integrated (five-year) Master of Science degrees are also offered. The B.Tech course is based on a 4-year program with eight semesters,[35] while the Dual Degree course is a 5-year program with ten semesters. In all IITs, the first year of B.Tech. and Dual Degree courses are marked by a common course structure for all the students,[36] though in some IITs, a single department introduction related course is also included.[37] The common courses include the basics from most of the departments like Electronics, Mechanics, Chemistry, and Physics. At the end of first year (the end of first semester at IIT Madras), an option to change departments is given to meritorious students on the basis of their performance in the first two semesters.[38] Few such changes ultimately take place as the criteria for them are usually strict,[38] limited to the most meritorious students.

From the second year onwards, the students study subjects exclusively from their respective departments.[39] In addition to these, the students have to take compulsory advanced courses from other departments in order to broaden their education. Separate compulsory courses from humanities and social sciences department, and sometimes management courses are also enforced.[40] At the end of third year, the undergraduate students have to undertake a summer project at an industry or reputed academic institute as part of the curriculum. In the last year of their studies, most of the students are placed into industries and organisations via the placement process of the respective IIT, though some students opt out of this either when going for higher studies or when they take up jobs by applying to the companies directly.[41]


Postgraduate and doctoral education

IIT Madras Library
IIT Madras Library

The IITs offer a number of postgraduate programs including Master of Technology (M.Tech.), Master of Business Administration (MBA), (only for engineers and post graduates in science,) and Master of Science (M.Sc.). Some IITs offer specialised graduate programmes such as the Post Graduate Diploma in Information Technology (PGDIT), Master in Medical Science and Technology (MMST), Master of City Planning (MCP), Postgraduate Diploma in Intellectual Property Law (PGDIPL), Master in Design (MDes), and the Postgraduate Diploma in Maritime Operation & Management (PGDMOM). The IITs also offer the Doctor of Philosophy degree (Ph.D.) as part of their doctoral education programme. In it, the candidates are given a topic of academic interest by the professor or have to work on a consultancy project given by the industries. The duration of the program is usually unspecified and depends on the specific discipline. Ph.D. candidates have to submit a dissertation as well as provide an oral defence for their thesis. Teaching Assistantships (TA) and Research Assistantships (RA) are often provided. Some of the IITs offer an M.S. (by research) program; the M.Tech. and M.S. are similar to the US universities' non-thesis (course based) and thesis (research based) masters programs respectively. The IITs, along with NITs and IISc, account for nearly 80% of all PhDs in engineering.[42]

The IITs also offer an unconventional B.Tech. and M.Tech. integrated educational program called "Dual Degree". It integrates undergraduate and postgraduate studies in selected areas of specialisation. It is completed in five years[43] as against six years in conventional B.Tech. (four years) followed by an M.Tech. (two years).[44] This programme was started to allow IITians to complete postgraduate studies from IIT rather than having to go to another institute. All IITs (except IIT Guwahati) have schools of management offering degrees in management or business administration.


Culture and student life

Open-air theatre in IIT Madras. It is used to host technical and cultural events.
Open-air theatre in IIT Madras. It is used to host technical and cultural events.

All the IITs provide on-campus residential facilities to the students, research scholars and faculty. The students live in hostels (sometimes referred to as halls) throughout their stay in the IIT. Students in all IITs must choose between National Cadet Corps (NCC), National Service Scheme (NSS) and National Sports Organisation (NSO) in their first years.[45] All the IITs have sports grounds for cricket, football(soccer), hockey, volleyball, lawn tennis, badminton, and athletics; and swimming pools for aquatic events. Usually the hostels also have their own sports grounds.


Technical and cultural festivals

All IITs organise annual technical festivals, typically lasting three or four days. The technical festivals are Shaastra (IIT Madras), Techkriti (IIT Kanpur), Kshitij (IIT Kharagpur), Cognizance (IIT Roorkee), Techfest (IIT Bombay), Tryst (IIT Delhi), and Techniche (IIT Guwahati). Most of them are organised in the months of February or March. Shaastra holds the distinction of being the first student-managed event in the world to implement a formal Quality Management System, earning the ISO 9001:2000 certification.[46]

Annual cultural festivals are also organised by the IITs and last three to four days. These include Mood Indigo (IIT Bombay) (also known as Mood-I), Spring Fest (IIT Kharagpur) (also known as SF), Saarang (IIT Madras) (previously Mardi Gras), Antaragni (IIT Kanpur), Alcheringa (IIT Guwahati), Rendezvous (IIT Delhi), and Thomso (IIT Roorkee).

Illumination festival in IIT Kharagpur. The outlines are made by earthen lamps.
Illumination festival in IIT Kharagpur. The outlines are made by earthen lamps.

In addition to these cultural festivals, IIT Kharagpur and IIT Bombay celebrate unique festivals. IIT Kharagpur celebrates the Illumination festival on the eve of Diwali. Large bamboo structures (called chatais) as high as 6 metres (20 feet) are made and earthen lamps (diyas) are placed on them to form outlines of people, monuments, or an event.[47] Held as a competition between the hostels, it also receives by outside visitors. Coupled with the Illumination festival is the Rangoli festival. In Rangoli, large panels showing an event or a concept, are made on the ground by fine powder, and sometimes even by crushed bangles.

Unique to IIT Bombay is the Performing Arts Festival (popularly known as PAF). Technically a drama, each PAF includes drama, literature, music, fine arts, debating, and dance. All PAFs are held in the Open Air Theater (OAT), on the main campus of IIT Bombay. Typically two or three hostels (of 14) group together by random draw for each PAF. All of the dialogues are delivered as voice overs and not by the actors, mainly due to the structure and the huge size of the OAT.

A volleyball event at Inter IIT Sports Meet-2004
A volleyball event at Inter IIT Sports Meet-2004

Inter-IIT sports meet

The IITs compete among themselves in a number of sports events held under the aegis of the Annual Inter-IIT Sports Meet. Started in 1961, the competition is held every December at an IIT chosen by rotation. The award consists of a running shield that is passed over to the winning IIT. The winner is decided based on the weighted sum of the points earned in various events held over a period of five days. Separate events for men and women are held and points are tallied separately for determining the final winner of the General Championship.[48]

The 12 events included in the Inter-IIT Sports are athletics, badminton, basketball, cricket, football, hockey, swimming, lawn and squash tennis, table tennis, volleyball, water polo and weightlifting. As swimming and water polo are played in water, which is usually cold in the month of December, the Inter-IIT Sports Meet for them is held in the first week of October, and is called Inter-IIT Aquatics Meet.[49]



The degrees provided by IITs are recognised by the AICTE and hence recognised by all institutions in India. Even outside India, IIT degrees are respected, largely due to the prestige of the IITs as created by their alumni. One of the contributing factors behind the success of IITs is the special status of the IITs as Institutes of National Importance under the Indian Institute of Technology Act. The IIT Act ensures that the IITs have special privileges and lays the foundation for them to evolve as world-class institutes. The autonomy ensured by the Act enables the IITs to implement changes quickly, to keep up with changing scenarios in both the educational world, and society in general. Student politics in IITs is kept under control with strict vigilance over the way student body elections are held. The IIT-JEE is another important factor behind the success of IITs, as it enables the IITs to accept only a select group of meritorious students. This combination of success factors has led to the concept of the IIT Brand.[50] Other factors that have contributed to the success of IITs are stringent faculty recruitment procedures and industry collaboration. The procedure for selection of faculty in IITs is stricter as compared to other colleges offering similar degrees.[51] The Ph.D. degree is a pre-requisite for all regular faculty appointments. The IITs have better interaction with various industries as compared to most other Indian colleges. The IITs are also considered highly successful institutions compared to other engineering colleges in India according to a number of educational surveys.

The view that IIT graduates are intelligent and hardworking people has been established by the success of IITians. Former IIT students get greater respect from their peers, academia and industry in general.[52] The IIT brand was reaffirmed when the United States House of Representatives passed a resolution honoring Indian Americans and especially graduates of IIT for their contributions to the American society.[1] Similarly, China also recognised the value of IITs and planned to replicate the model.[53]


Educational rankings

Most IITs are consistently ranked above other engineering colleges in India in engineering education surveys,[54] with regard to quality of faculty, teaching standards, research facilities and campus placements. In international surveys, the IITs fail to achieve top rankings. The Times Higher Education Supplement (2006) ranked the IITs the 57th best overall universities in their World University Rankings[55] and gave IITs the 33th position globally for science. The IITs were ranked third-best worldwide for technology, after MIT and University of California.[56] In the Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Academic Ranking of World Universities, only one IIT (IIT Kharagpur) was listed among the top 500 universities worldwide.[57] The IITs fall short in many parameters that are considered for educational rankings. The criteria for ranking[58] prominently include internationally recognised research output, in which the IITs do not achieve notable success.[59] Another criterion being the Social Science Citation Index, the rank of IITs suffers as they do not have large departments of liberal arts and social sciences. Since the IITs have only a few international faculty and students (except those by exchange programs), the rankings of IITs in many international surveys have suffered. Since the IITs have scored better under most educational ranking criteria than other Indian colleges and universities, they continue to achieve top positions in nationwide surveys.



The IITs have faced criticism from within and outside academia. Major concerns include allegations that they encourage a brain drain and that their stringent entrance examinations encourage coaching colleges and skew the socio-economic profile of the student body. Other critics are concerned at the insufficient representation of women and the disadvantaged.


Brain drain

Among the criticisms of the IIT system by the media, academia and the people in general, the most prominent is that it encourages brain drain. Until the process of liberalisation started in early 1990s, India was unable to provide good job opportunities to the graduates of IITs. This resulted in large scale emigration of IITians to western countries, especially to the United States. Since 1953, nearly twenty-five thousand IITians have settled in the USA.[60] Since the USA benefited from subsidised education in IITs at the cost of Indian taxpayers' money, critics say that subsidising education in IITs is useless. Others support the emigration of graduates, arguing that the capital sent home by the IITians has been a major source of the expansion of foreign exchange reserves for India, which, until the 1990s, had a substantial trade deficit.

The extent of the brain drain has receded substantially over the past decade, with the percentage of students going abroad dropping from as high as 70% to around 30% today.[61] This is largely attributed to the liberalisation of the Indian economy and the opening of previously closed markets. Government initiatives are encouraging IIT students into entrepreneurship programs and are increasing foreign investment. Emerging scientific and manufacturing industries, and outsourcing of technical jobs from North America and Western Europe have created opportunities for aspiring graduates in India. Many undergraduates go abroad to pursue further studies, such as MS and PhD.


Entrance competition

The highly competitive examination in the form of IIT-JEE has led to establishment of a large number of coaching institutes throughout the country that provide intensive, and specific preparation for the IIT-JEE for substantial fees. It is argued that this favours students from specific regions and richer backgrounds. Some coaching institutes say that they have individually coached nearly 800 successful candidates year after year.[62] According to some estimates, nearly 95% of all students who clear the IIT-JEE had joined coaching classes.[63] The psychological stress and emotional trauma faced by candidates not able to pass the examination and their families is considered to be a serious problem. This has led to criticism of the way the examinations are conducted. The IIT-JEE format was restructured in 2006 following these complaints.[64]

After the change to the objective pattern of questioning, even the students who initially considered themselves not fit for subjective pattern of IIT-JEE decided to take the examination. Though the restructuring was meant to reduce the dependence of students on coaching classes, it led to an increase in students registering for coaching classes.[22] Some people (mostly IITians) have criticised the changed pattern of the IIT-JEE. Their reasoning is that while IIT-JEE traditionally used to test students understanding of fundamentals and his ability to apply them to solve large unseen problems, the current pattern does not stress much on the application part.[65]



Vinod Gupta School of Management in IIT Kharagpur
Vinod Gupta School of Management in IIT Kharagpur

The IITians are known for their loyalty to their alma mater and many IIT Alumni Associations are active in India and abroad. The IIT alumni either help their alma mater in the form of donations, or by preferential job opportunities extended to students from the IITs. The Vinod Gupta School of Management at IIT Kharagpur and Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management at IIT Bombay are management schools within IITs that have been established largely by alumni donations; these schools were named after their benefactors.

Many IIT alumni have become entrepreneurs, including N.R. Narayana Murthy (co-founder and chairman of Infosys), Vinod Khosla (co-founder, Sun Microsystems), and Suhas S. Patil (founder and Chairman Emeritus Cirrus Logic Inc.) Other alumni have achieved leading positions in corporations, such as Rajat Gupta (former Managing Director, McKinsey), Arun Sarin (CEO, Vodafone), Victor Menezes (Senior Vice Chairman, Citigroup), and Kanwal Rekhi (CTO, Novell). IIT alumni have also pursued careers in politics: for example, Manohar Parrikar became the Chief Minister of Goa. Many alumni have gained national and international recognition: Sushantha Kumar Bhattacharyya was awarded the CBE, a knighthood, and Padma Bhushan; and V. C. Kulandaiswamy was awarded Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan. Narendra Karmarkar is also world-renowned for his work in applied mathematics.


See also

     The Indian Institutes of Technology     
IIT KharagpurIIT BombayIIT KanpurIIT MadrasIIT DelhiIIT GuwahatiIIT RoorkeeSchools of ManagementRGSOIPL, IIT Kharagpur   
History of IITsJoint Entrance ExaminationsGraduate Aptitude Test in EngineeringPolicy of ReservationAlumniCulturePerforming Arts FestivalIllumination and RangoliCognizanceShaastraTechkritiSpring FestAntaragniAlcheringa
More on IITsNational Institutes of TechnologyIndian Institutes of ManagementIndian Institute of ScienceLAOTSENPTELThe IITians


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Further reading


External links

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