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NIRF 2020 – Which Engineering Colleges will gain in and Which will Loose?

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In the coming months, the latest 2020 NIRF rankings will be announced. The list published by MHRD GOI, is a go to list for students and companies to aim for a seat and to visit for recruitment.

The list consists of 200 top Engineering colleges in India. In the year 2019, the top college was IIT Chennai and the 200th college was Eswari Engineering College in Chennai, TN.

So, what is NIRF?

NIRF – National Institutional Ranking Framework is a comprehensive yearly ranking of Engineering colleges based on the following 17 factors.

  • Student Strength – 20
  • FSR – 30
  • Faculty with PhD 20
  • Utilisation of funds 30
  • Publications 35
  • Quality of Publications 40
  • IPR 15
  • Footprint and Professional Practise (projects) 10
  • Placement 40
  • Univ. exams 15
  • Median salary 25
  • Number of Ph d graduated 20
  • Diversity 30
  • % women 30
  • Economically 20
  • Physically Challenged 20
  • Peer review 100

Of the above 17 factors the first 8 contribute to 60 points out of a possible 100.

So, how does an Engineering College gear up to score high?

The secret to scoring a high rank in NIRF is to focus on two aspects:

  • Startup Culture
  • Paper Publications

Firstly, to achieve a higher goal one needs to break up the factors into smaller targets. Let us do the same with NIRF rank factors listed above.

Of the 17 factors listed above, 6 are purely administrative factors and policy matters and one Peer review is not directly under the college’s control.

So, we are left with 10.

Of the 10, number of admissions is dependent on NIRF rank, advertisement, infrastructure and reputation. So, this also can be set aside for this article. Remember, this exercise is to arrive simple actionable points to set the ball rolling for a high NIRF rank.

Continuing, we are left with 9 points.

Of the nine, FSR, Faculty with Ph.D, and utilisation of funds are administrative and policy matters. We are left with:

  • Publications 35
  • Quality of Publications 40
  • IPR 15
  • Footprint and Professional Practise (projects) 10
  • Placements
  • Univ. exams

The above 6 call for creative ideas to enhance higher performance.

Let us list the factors and define higher performance:

  • Publications 35 Points [Number of Publications]
  • Quality of Publications 40 Points [Number of Citations]
  • IPR 15 Points [Number of IPR Placed]
  • Footprint and Professional Practise (projects) 10 Points [Quality assessment]
  • Placements 40 Points [Based on data provided]
  • Univ. exams 15 Points [Based on data]

An Engineering College can gain NIRF immensely if its students:

  • Assist faculty in publishing papers
  • Faculty publish papers
  • Faculty, conduct research and get patents
  • Students undertake high quality projects
  • Students get high value internships
  • Number of Students are placed
  • Performance in Univ. Exams – Academic Rigour.

Of the above, the following can be achieved if the research capability is high.

  1. Assist faculty in publishing papers
  2. Faculty publish papers
  3. Faculty, conduct research and get patents
  4. Students undertake high quality projects

The remaining are dependent on the corporate connect, soft skills training, and academic training including exposure to high tech training.

  1. Students get high value internships
  2. Number of Students are placed
  3. Performance in Univ. Exams – Academic Rigour

Research capability is a complex skill. It requires one to be subject expert, creative and well informed. Experienced and senior faculty are essential to increase the research capability of the students.

However, to dramatically increase the research capability senior faculty will not suffice. Students and junior faculty have to be trained.

For this I suggest a comprehensive digital initiative which is designed to satisfy the aspirational needs of the faculty and students and at the same time provide a rigorous platform to enhance the research capability.

For all of the above a TBI which is active and kicking will be ideal .

However, managements of Engineering Colleges have to note the following:

  • Admissions are falling
  • College managements are clueless about the technology changes – some at least
  • Attendance is falling

The two initiatives:

  • TBI
  • Digital initiative

Will turn around colleges as, to put it in a single statement, as it meets the aspirational needs of the students and faculty alike.

Both these initiatives will provide the stakeholders a sense of belonging and enhance their all round performance.

So, the questions arise:

To create a TBI which is tuned to the future, one has to look at rapid technological changes happening. The TBI sections should not just be rental space and admin space. The TBI should be designed so that students get exposed to latest technologies.

The digital initiative is equally large and continuous project which will put all the students more expressive in technical writing and oration and consequently participate in all college professional activities and contribute towards the institutional growth.

How do we know that these are the correct measures?

Again, very simple. Every institution is mandated to have a TBI – the Govt. is insisting on this initiative. This in itself is sufficient. If one has been following the events in the real world startups are the new thing happening.

Next, the digital skills aspect, the authorities have assumed everyone has digital skills. But, what I am pointing to is entirely different – only those with exposure to digital world will appreciate.

Who will gain?

Those colleges who have started focusing on digital skills and TBI simultaneously will gain ground and beat others to reach the top.

It is very important that both the initiatives are started and not just one. This will create a synergy. Or what will happen in NITs and IITs will happen. You have highly academic focused and technically sound engineers but who are very poor in expression and articulation.

After all, digital expression is a key to success, in today’s world.

An institution which can implement both the initiatives can gain position among the top 50 engineering colleges.

Who will loose?

Obviously, those colleges who are still thinking that demand will one day pickup. And, those colleges who do not participate in the NIRF ranking system will loose immensely as admissions will be based on NIRF rank.

Colleges who do not realise that times are changing and future of education is going to vastly change will stand to loose in the coming years.

What are the barriers for getting a high NIRF rank?

A management which is not technically savvy.

Such a management will put heavy burden on the Principal who has to address many (countless?) issues and also sensitise the management regarding technology.

A tight and rigid theory based culture will make it difficult for the consultant or TBI head to deliver.

What will start happening when you implement these two initiatives?

Firstly, students will feel lucky they have joined a college which is in with the times. Next, hidden entrepreneurial talents of students will be exposed. Further, students will see that they are performing better at interviews due to the exposure they gain in colleges. The networking they with the outside world will be much deeper and meaning, leading to better opportunities and understanding. Students will find it familiar to join startups and hope for a better career. Digitally trained students will be able to work with Professors and contribute towards paper publishing and research, which will in turn increase NIRF rank.

I urge all colleges to seriously look at implementing the two initiatives, there is no time to waste and reap all the benefits they will bring in. Early bird catches the worm.

Do not be left out of the top 200 Engineering colleges and 75 Management Colleges.

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