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NEW DELHI : Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have a fresh cause for concern. More than half of the professors are performing below par, impacting the research environment and brand image of the elite engineering schools.

The IITs have observed that a significant number professors are not doing justice to their credibility and talent. “It has been observed that despite having very good credentials, large numbers of faculty do not put in enough effort on research and teaching. Over a period of time, this number has gone up to an extent (of) more than half," IITs said in note that was discussed at the council meeting on 27 September. Mint has reviewed a copy of the note.

“As a result, there is pressure on the administration to lower the criterion for evaluation. This becomes more fatal if heads of the institutes (directors) and other administrators like heads (of departments) and deans come from this category (of non performers)," it added.

If 50% of existing teachers at IITs, which face a faculty shortage of 15-35%, are not doing good work, the institutes are barely surviving with just 30% credible teaching staff, said a senior professor of an older IIT, requesting anonymity.

In 2011, the then environment minister Jairam Ramesh had kicked up a storm when he said publicly that the IITs were “excellent because of the quality of students, and not because of the quality of research or faculty".

Another IIT professor, who also requested anonymity, said the discussions at council meeting led to the recent decision to introduce a tenure track system in faculty hiring. Sizable proportions of teachers may have developed the attitude that it’s a “join and retire" job and that less effort in teaching and research will not be a threat to their career growth, he added.

“Now, the governing bodies of the IITs will closely track the research output of its faculties and their publication in good journals. Unless you as a professor do that you will be pinpointed. Poor research and citation is negatively impacting the brand value and ranking of IITs that too at a time when India aims to make IITs to become world-class universities," the second professor said.

In the latest World University Ranking by UK’s Times Higher Education, IIT-Kanpur got a research score of 24.5 and citation score of 35.2. Compare this with China’s Peking University, which has a research score of 90 and citation score of 73.2. Citation score is based on the number of times a research work has been referred to by fellow researchers, globally.

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