We are back with the much-awaited Dataquest Top T-School Survey that highlights the top T-Schools across the country and what makes them special. The survey, which is an industry-acclaimed hallmark on technical education and is highly trusted by students, parents, and recruiters alike, is out with its 16th edition. Primarily, the survey focuses on T-Schools and their contribution to key skills in the technology industry and ranks them through a comprehensive evaluation process.
The last year had been quite challenging for the industry owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, driving stakeholders to adapt to the changing work environment. The pandemic and consequent lockdown measures resulted in the ‘new normal’ of working from home, which is being appreciated by almost every industry, with many planning to adopt this work culture partially or permanently, going forward. As an added advantage, this change will greatly enable industries to access resources globally.
Given the current scenario, it is vital for engineering institutions in India to be future-ready. In this direction, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has taken some active measures. To start with, it has decided not to permit new engineering colleges from the academic year 2020-21; it will only grant approval for additional seats in existing institutions based on the capacity utilisation of the concerned institute. As per the initiative, AICTE will review the creation of a new capacity every two years. This step is expected to encourage institutes to convert their current capacity in traditional disciplines to emerging new technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, robotics, quantum computing, data sciences, cybersecurity, and 3D printing and design.
It’s good to be on your mobile while studying
The recent pandemic has changed the model of the education system to a great extent. There was a time when mobile phone usage was banned during classes but today classes have come to mobile phones.
This transition, however, has been very expensive when it comes to the practical aspect of a course.
While institutions faced a number of challenges, they remained firm with their commitment to providing the best education to students. The major challenge witnessed after the COVID-19 outbreak has been imparting the practical aspect of a course such as working with equipment in a laboratory. To address this issue, four in five engineering colleges have started using applications such as LabView.
As self-learning can be challenging for students, teachers have made tremendous efforts in providing smart and easy-to-understand study material. Institutes have also designed a web platform where professors can upload their video lectures to help students learn at their own pace. As per the survey, four in five engineering institutes conducted regular parent-teacher meetings through video calls to provide assurance on the progress of students. Furthermore, three in four institutes conducted various health programs to ensure the good health of students.
The post-COVID-19 era encourages ‘out-of-the-box thinking, emphasises creativity and innovation skills, and pushes for a learning environment where divergent ideas are encouraged. Today’s engineering education is poised for a major shift to better prepare students for the world of tomorrow.
Many prestigious IITs, NITs, IIITs, and private and government institutes participated in the T-School 2021 Survey. The survey had at least one T-School participating from each of the major states of India. Private T-Schools proactively participated in the exercise with over 85% representation. T-Schools based in the southern region took the lead in participating in the survey with over 56% of the respondent institutes coming from this region. Institutes from the western parts took the lead over those in the northern parts compared to last year.
A structured questionnaire with over 30 questions was used to capture the Placement, Academics, Campus Infrastructure, and Engagement (PACE) Framework. These questions enabled the DQ-CMR team to build a comprehensive picture on the basis of the inputs from T-Schools.
Adequate time was provided to the T-Schools to share their filled-in nominations, either online or via physical modes. The submissions were scrutinised by the CMR Edutech Practice for completeness and veracity of the information shared and were examined through a random check process, with >30% of the submissions being cross-checked, as per the market research code of ethics. CMR analysts reached out to key stakeholders for further deliberations, enabling a holistic snapshot of the T-School.
The quantitative inputs received and verified from various T-Schools were then analysed wherein the absolute data was normalised to relative data in order to compare the parameters across the participating institutions.
For each of the above-mentioned parameter segments, a final score was achieved which was then factored with the pre-defined weights to arrive at the overall score of each participating T-School. The institutes were then ranked as per the scores across all parameters. The rankings were also arrived at by category and region.
- Placement: An average of 431 students per T-School secured job placements in the year 2020 while an average of 85 industry partners visited T-Schools for recruitment. At private T-Schools, an average of 448 students got placed, whereas, at government T-Schools, 300 students secured placement. The average salary package in 2020 was Rs 4.44 lakh per annum. The maximum salary offered stood at Rs 20.68 lakh per annum.
- Research papers and patents: In the last three years, the average number of research publications carried out per institute has been 529. In the case of government institutes, this figure is much higher (1140). The average number of patents registered by the government and private T-Schools has been 25. The research papers published by T-Schools, including academic research papers in reviewed research journals, articles and books, point to the overall research productivity of the T-Schools.
- Courses offered: The DQ-CMR T-School Survey 2021 findings illustrate that T-Schools are offering an eclectic selection of streams for students, ranging from Computer Science to Electronics and
Communications, from Mechatronics to Textile Engineering. The top three streams offered at T-Schools are Computer Science, Electronics and Communications, and Mechanical Engineering.
- Faculty at T-Schools: According to the survey, 33% of the faculty at T-Schools have a doctoral degree. The DQ-CMR T-School Survey results further illustrate that 91% of the faculty at T-Schools are permanent, 5% are visiting, and 4% are on contracts.
In terms of the experience level, 40% of the permanent faculty have more than 10 years of experience, 32% of them have 5-10 years of experience and 28% of them have less than five years of experience.
- Industry interface: As an internship serves as the first industry experience for students, every institute seeks it actively and, on average, 63% of the students get trained in internships. In the last two years, the average number of students going for internships has been 1,113 spread over 117 companies. Furthermore, there is the continuous support of people from the industry – an average of 108 industry experts per institute visited T-Schools in the last two years. On average, 15 industry members were on the board and an advisory council of the different T-Schools to guide them and 12 faculty members were on the board of companies last year.
- Engagement with the industry ecosystem: Industry engagement is a way for T-Schools to fortuning themselves to industry needs, by enhancing existing teaching methods and most importantly, providing
foundational training and exposure to students.
Industry engagement provides a real-world experience to classroom learning, which helps students to make their career path more confidently and in an informed manner.
Private-sector T-Schools are more proactive and dominate over government T-Schools in having MoUs. An overwhelming 95% of the T-Schools in the DQ-CMR T-School 2021 Survey reported having MoU with an industry partner.
According to the DQ-CMR T-School 2021 Study results, 88% of the T-Schools surveyed had set up an incubation center to facilitate entrepreneurship. It is heartening to note that 75% of these incubators enjoy industry support, and benefit from partnerships with players in the local ecosystem.
On average, 19 start-ups were incubated at T-Schools. By acting as a bridge between T-Schools and industry, the incubators are able to support students as well as faculty members with business inputs from commercial partners, charged with scaling up and marketing the innovations.
The key takeaways from this study is that T-Schools are adopting new methods and are getting themselves ready for any future uncertainties as the pandemic isn’t over yet. Virtual classrooms, labs, and libraries are being designed and implemented by many institutions to provide students education without any hurdle. The T-Schools today are able to prepare the industry-ready skilled workforce. On the other hand, the industry benefits from T-Schools’ know-how and expertise, and the manpower therein – both faculty and students.
This year, government institutions have set a paradigm by securing the top four places in a row. Even out of the top 10 T-Schools in the country, seven are government-owned while the remaining 3 are private institutions. The north zone heads the rankings with three out of the top five institutions. IIT Kanpur, IIIT Hyderabad, Netaji Subhas University of Technology, IIIT Delhi, and BS Abdur Rahman Crescent Institute of Science and Technology were adjudged the top five T-Schools as per the research findings. Good academic track record, adequate infrastructure, industry engagement, and placements are the top-scoring parameters of all these T-Schools.
The way forward: four recommendations for T-Schools
The year 2020 posed a number of challenges for T-Schools owing to the pandemic. Some institutes were able to handle the situation quickly with help of technology while others took some time to adapt to the new normal. Below are some recommendations for preparing T-Schools for the future.
Amid the pandemic, going virtual has become a need. Online lectures, whether live or recorded sessions, helped students to not only continue their studies during lockdown but also stay motivated to prepare for exams. Virtual interactions with parents assured them of their child’s academic progress, thus easing out their initial stress. Virtual study material is a repository that can help students in any unforeseen situation.
Library and lab access
A library is a place where a student can refer to different books as it is not possible for a student to purchase all the books. But in recent times, we have seen students struggling to find different books relevant to their course. An online portal that can provide the content of a book of a particular author can be of great help. Through this initiative, students will be able to refer to different books even during holidays. Furthermore, it can enable a student to study remotely – the new normal. Similarly, the usage of apps such as LabView can provide the experience of a working lab when the student is unable to be present physically in the lab.
In a recent study, it was observed that during 2016-17, more than 50% of the seats were vacant, resulting in glaring gaps in regulation. To control low employability among engineering graduates, there is a need to convert current capacity in traditional disciplines to emerging new technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, robotics, quantum computing, data sciences, cybersecurity, and 3D printing and design.
Technology should go hand in hand with innovation and nurturing the entrepreneurship skills of students. Self-reliant engineers are the need of the hour which will be in sync with fulfilling the dream of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of Aatmanirbhar Bharat. Entrepreneurship needs to be taught as an elective in engineering colleges and students should be involved in live projects. The supporting infrastructure and guidance from the faculty should be aligned with handling all the initial hiccups for new start-ups.
Mohanty is Head, User Research Practice at CMR