Sunday, April 27, 2008

Too many IITs ?

I would not have thought this merited a serious debate but since one is on in right earnest, let me add my two cents to it.

Creating an IIT in a state has an impact similar to setting up a railway junction- also sorts of developmental impulses radiate out of it. The state or area in which IIT is located certainly gets a boost. So, if you have the resources, go for it. IITs can command resources of a higher order than plain colleges or universities, there is a certain discipline which the IIT system brings along with it, and there is also scrutiny and assessment that is qualitatively superior.

The problems will be there- notably, finding good faculty- of course but those problems would be there even if were to invest in colleges that did not carry the IIT tag. A potentially favourable factor is returning NRIs- some may just find it worthwhile to be in their home states and may be willing to sacrifice the prestige of being with one of the older IITs especially if these are people in their forties and above and have already made a reputation for themselves.

I also think that creating competition from IITs - and IIMs, for that matter,- is a good thing although it will be a long time before the new entrants pose a threat to the entrenched players.

What about the problem of "brand dilution"? I don't see any cause for apprehension. The three top IIMs have not suffered in the slightest because three other IIMs have come up and a fourth one is due. Nor have IIM- Indore and IIM- Kozhikode been able to ride on the reputations of the older IIMs. The pecking order in most rankings is the top four IIMs followed by several other non-IIM institutions with IIM-I and IIM-K coming way below. We can see the difference clearly in the new fee structures that the IIMs have proposed- the market leader, IIMA, is way ahead of the rest.


abc321 said...

Agreeing to your perception, I feel that the biggest hindrance in terms of resources come in the form of faculty. One can buy all the infrastructure, laborataries, state of art technicians and equipments; but where does one get good teachers? Good teachers build up the institute into a true temple of learning. Many universities abroad also ride high just on the shoulders of imminent faculties.
Anyways the future will bring forth the results of this big experiment....

Ashwin said...

Undoubtedly finding good faculty is a big problem...
But, you need more IITs because they are a strong brand and will attract talented students.
Currently we have 4000 odd seats in the IITs and 1500 in the IIMs, far too less for a county of our size. More IITs->More seats->more talent getting opportunities-> more development.

How the quality of the newer IITs is going to be maintained is a big issue, but at least, for a start, they can start leveraging the brand name