Tuesday, May 17, 2022

IIT-Delhi is going international, but the move may’ve been triggered by a controversial global ranking system

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Travon Marner
Travon Marner
Travon Marner is a seasoned journalist with nearly 12 years under his belt. While studying journalism at Boston, Travon found a passion for finding local stories. As a contributor to Business News Ledger, Travon mostly covers human interest pieces.

After having catered to around 40 million Indian students at home, the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi (IIT-D) is planning to go international and open two campuses in Egypt and Saudi Arabia as part of a global outreach and expansion of top Indian institutes.

It is the first such indirect step towards making ‘study in India’ a reality and ensuring India’s much-vaunted education system contributes towards enhancing global standard of learning. It will also enhance IIT-D’s financial health, reducing its dependence on government grants.

But more crucially, India’s premier institution may very well be taking this step to deal with an allegedly inexplicable global ranking system, which has become an issue of debate among academics.

The QS World University Ranking, 2022, published earlier this year has placed IIT Bombay in the 177th position, followed by IIT-D at 185… that’s abysmally low considering the high impact IITians are creating, globally.

IITs do not have an international set-up at the moment. Also, foreign students in its programmes in India number merely 50, 000 (pre-covid days). Together, they have been the biggest roadblocks in the institution’s apparent desire to be counted among the best.

It is argued that internationalisation will change the perception of Indian institutes and create a buzz about the value they bring in. Moreover, the New Education Policy 2020 (NEP) is already promoting internationalisation and batting to make India a ‘study abroad’ destination.

But, should rankings, which are essentially for marketing purposes, really matter? Has the absence of IITs in top-100 or 150 hampered its students’ pursuit of excellence? A survey conducted recently revealed that 72% students worldwide said they are more interested in degree outcomes and place high value on educational programs. Only 17% still consider rankings a major consideration while deciding on a university.

Their culture of problem-solving, understanding of the English language, and relentless hard work are factors that are fast becoming a major attraction for multi-billion dollar global tech giants. It is on the basis of such criterion that top companies have an IITian at wheels.

Parag Agrawal’s recent elevation as Twitter CEO is the latest case in point. He joins IBM’s Arvind Krishna, Google’s Sundar Pichai and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella as leaders of US multinational companies.

Tweeting on Twitter’s new roadmap, Jack Dorsey said, “He’s curious, probing, rational, creative, demanding, self-aware, and humble. He leads with heart and soul, and is someone I learn from daily.”

These attributes are becoming key indicators when hiring.

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos’ reliance on Amit Agrawal, a senior vice president and the country manager for India, has proven to be a master-stroke. While Amazon’s growing market share in India may not entirely be a reflection of IIT’s prowess, it possibly highlights the effectiveness of approach and strategy that IITians deploy, quite a bit of which comes with the territory.

Then there are the promoters and facilitators. In innovation, they are triggering responsible disruptions by backing revolutionary ideas. IIT-D alumni Rajat Khare’s Luxembourg-based Boundary Holding, which enables Fourth Industrial  Revolution (4IR) and invests aggressively in deep-technology, like Artificial Intelligence (AI), IoT, Machine Learning and more, has already made huge investments in European companies that are leading the way in ushering in a new era.

With the annual placement season underway, tech giants are once again making a beeline for India’s crème de la crème. And they are not doing so on the basis of ranking.

This month itself, ride-hailing giant Uber offered IIT Bombay students first-year packages of $274,000 for jobs in the United States.

US-based IT firm, Cohesity, has offered the highest package of Rs 1.46 crore (or 1, 95,000 USD), followed by Glean, that has a package of Rs 1.12 crore (or 1, 50,000 USD). These packages also include incentives and other stock options as well.

Among the Japanese firms, offering attractive packages are Sony Japan, Hyundai (research & development) and Rakuten.

A shift may be taking place, though. With the exponential rise of India’s own technology sector and the recognition it is receiving, the country’s best and the brightest minds will find greater opportunities with a financial package to match global standards back home.

But, by then, IITians will have made a mark. If they haven’t already.

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