To compile the EW India Private Engineering Institutes Rankings 2020-21, 150 field representatives of the Delhi-based Centre for Forecasting and Research Pvt. Ltd interviewed 1,063 faculty, 1,368 final year engineering students and 423 industry representatives countrywide – Summiya Yasmeen
Engineering education in India is facing an unprecedented over-supply and graduate unemployability crisis. During the past five years, enrolments in the country’s 3,415 engineering institutions have nose-dived. In 2019, 50 percent of capacity in BE/B.Tech/M. Tech degree programmes countrywide was unutilised, and a mere 600,000 of the 1.5 million engineering students who graduated last year were campus recruited. Following this sharpest five-year fall in enrolments and 60 percent graduate unemployability, last year the Delhi-based All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) — the apex regulatory body for technical education — constituted a special committee under the leadership of Dr. B.V.R. Reddy, chairman of IIT-Hyderabad, to suggest ways and means to reform and revive engineering education in India.
Identifying “low enrolment, lower placements and low employability” as the causes of this malaise, the Reddy Committee recommends that AICTE should not licence any new engineering colleges until 2022 and encourage ene gineering colleges to diversify from traditional disciplines such as electrical, mechanical, civil engineering to provide study programmes in new technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, quantum computing, data sciences etc. Moreover, it called for eliminating faculty shortages and promoting greater academia-industry cooperation. Accepting the committee’s recommendations to freeze capacity with alacrity, in early February AICTE banned promotion of greenfield engineering colleges for two years.
Against this gloomy backdrop, EducationWorld presents its EducationWorld India Private Engineering Institutes Rankings 2020-21 to enable higher secondary school leavers with engineering on their minds to pick and choose the most aptitudinally suitable private colleges for undergrad education. Since 2016, EducationWorld has been excluding the heavily subsidised and routinely top-ranked Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and National Institutes of Technology (NITs), preferring to evaluate and rank the country’s Top 100 private engineering colleges to enable the 98 percent of students who don’t make it into the top 2 percent of the 1.14 million school-leavers who write the IIT/NIT Joint Entrance Exam annually, to choose the most suitable among private institutions, some of which are rapidly closing the IITs/NITs versus the rest gap.
To compile the EW India Private Engineering Institutes Rankings (EWIPEIR) 2020-21, 150 field representatives of the Delhi-based Centre for Forecasting and Research Pvt. Ltd (C fore, estb.2000), the country’s premier market research and opinion polls company (which also conducts the annual EducationWorld India School Rankings (estb.2007) and EW India Preschool Rankings (2010)), interviewed 1,063 faculty, 1,368 final year engineering students and 423 industry representatives countrywide.
These sample respondents were persuaded to rate engineering institutes (of whom they had sufficient knowledge) on nine parameters of excellence, viz, faculty competence, placement, research and innovation, curriculum and pedagogy, industry interface, value for money, infrastructure, faculty welfare, leadership and governance. The scores awarded by respondents under each parameter were totaled to rank the country’s Top 100 private engineering colleges/institutes inter se. Low-profile institutions asssessed by less than 25 respondents are not ranked.
Unsurprisingly, for the fifth year in succession the 2,854 knowledgeable respondents polled by C fore have voted the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani (estb.1964) India’s #1 private engineering college/ university (BITS-Pilani has been conferred deemed university status under s. 3 of the UGC Act. 1956).
“We are delighted that your sample respondents have once again acknowledged BITS-Pilani as India’s #1 engi neering education institution. Our distinguishing feature is that we provide industry-aligned education supplemented with internships, trans-disciplinary learning and research and development training. Our ‘do engineering’ curriculum pioneered immersive industry internships for students, and faculty-industry interface through work integrated learning processes. We are not content with topping the annual EW rankings. Our goal is to be ranked among the world’s Top 500 higher education institutions in the league tables of international rating agencies such as QS and THE. To this end we have launched our Project Lakshya to enhance quality across the five pillars of faculty development, curriculum contemporisation, industry interface, sponsored research and alumni connect,” says Dr. Souvik Bhattacharyya, vice chancellor of BITS-Pilani. An alumnus of Jadavpur, Cincinnati and Texas A&M universities. Bhattacharyya served as vice chancellor of Jadavpur University, Kolkata and deputy director of IIT-Kharagpur, prior to taking charge at BITS-Pilani in 2016.
Curiously although the top-ranked BITS-Pilani is commonly acknowledged to be on a par with the best IITs, in the Union HRD ministry’s National Institutional Rankings Framework (NIRF) Top 100 engineering institutes league table 2019, BITS-Pilani is ranked #25. Lower than the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Shibpur and National Institute of Technology, Suratkal. Pressed to comment, Bhattacharyya says “NIRF is designed to assess traditional Indian universities.”
Be that as it may, in the field surveys-based EW league table, for the third successive year, BITS-Pilani is followed by the low-profile Hyderabad-based International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) with top scores on the parameters of faculty competence, curriculum and pedagogy and placement.
But while the status quo has been maintained at the very top, further down the league table there’s been a substantial rearrangement of the pecking order. Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information & Communication Technology, Gandhinagar, has moved up to #3 (#4 in 2019-20), PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore to #4 (5) jointly ranked with Vellore Institute of Technology (3) which has ceded rank this year.
The Manipal Institute of Technology (6) and Thapar Institute of Engineering & Technology, Patiala (4) are jointly ranked #5 this year.
Dr. D. Srikanth Rao, director of the Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT, estb.1956) — a constituent institution of the top-ranked Manipal Academy of Higher Education — is ambiguous about MIT’s #5 India and #1 Karnataka ranking. “I believe that MIT deserves higher ranking. Engineering education in MIT is experiential, relevant and contemporary with our highly-qualified faculty focused on developing industry-ready graduates. It’s this combination of experiential curriculum tailored to meet changing industry needs which has won us national recognition with our graduates readily snapped by higher education institutions and corporates in India and around the world,” says Rao, an alumnus of Manipal and Mysore universities, who signed up with MIT as a professor of mechanical engineering in 1989 and was promoted to the office of director in 2018.
Beyond the Top 5 as well, there’s been a major rejig in the seating order at the Top 10 table with several colleges rising in public esteem. The RV College of Engineering, Bangalore has improved its ranking to #6 (7), SSN College of Engineering, Kalavakkam to #7 (8), Shiv Nadar University, Dadri (10) and SASTRA University, Thanjavur (11) are jointly ranked #8 with SRM Institute of Science and Technology, Chennai promoted to #9 (12).
The Top 10 table is completed by JSS Mahavidyapeetha Sri Jayachamarajendra College of Engineering, Mysore, ranked #15 last year, at #9 and BMS College of Engineering, Bangalore (16) jointly ranked #10 with the Hindustan Institute of Technology & Science, Chennai (25) which has made a great leap forward this year.
Dr. Sandeep Sancheti, vice chancellor of the SRM Institute of Science and Technology, Chennai (SRMIST) — awarded deemed university status in 2001 — is pleased with the improved #9 India ranking and especially with SRM’s #2 rank on the parameter of research and innovation.
“I am especially pleased that your respondents have acknowledged SRMIST for its research and innovation, our prime focus area. We spend about 6-7 percent of our annual budget on research — perhaps the highest among comparable institutions. As a result, SRMIST has received India’s highest award for patents generation and commercialisation of R&D from the Union ministry of commerce and industry, and the Vishwakarma Award of AICTE. We are now working on being awarded the Central government’s Institute of Eminence status,” says Dr. Sancheti, vice chancellor of SRMIST, which has an enrolment of 50,000 students including 25,000 in its college of engineering. An alumnus of Delhi College of Engineering and Queens University, Belfast, UK, Sancheti acquired valuable teaching and admin experience as former president of Manipal University, Jaipur, director of NIT Delhi and NITK Surathkal, prior to his appointment as VC of SRMIST in 2017.
Yet the most spectacular leap forward in the EW India Private Engineering Institutes Rankings 2020-21 is of the Chennai-based Hindustan Institute of Technology & Science (HITS, estb.1985). Ranked a modest #25 last year, this 35-year old deemed university is among the Top 10 this year. “It’s a proud moment for HITS to be ranked among the Top 10 private engineering institutions of India. Over the past few years we have also been highly ranked by several national and international agencies. In the QS Asia Pacific Rankings we are in the 501-550 band, in QS BRICS Rankings in the 301-350 band and QS India Rankings in the 81-85 bracket with QSiguage Gold 5 stars ratings for teaching, employability, innovation, and facilities. This is because our excellent faculty has increased research publications output, undertaken 40 research consultancy projects, filed 81 patents and introduced new study programmes to prepare students for the industry 4.0 era. HITS is well on its way to transforming into a worldclass teaching and research university,” says Dr. Anand Jacob Verghese, pro chancellor of HITS. An alumnus of US International and Huron universities (London) and Dongguk University, Seoul, Verghese was appointed pro chancellor in 2008. Currently, HITS has 8,000 students and 600 faculty on its muster rolls.
Beyond the Top 10, several institutes have risen impressively in the EW India Private Engineering College Rankings 2020-21. Among them: Velammal College of Engineering and Technology, Madurai to #12 (#59 in 2019-20), Chaitanya Bharathi Institute of Technology, Hyderabad #14 (18), Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s Sardar Patel College of Engineering, Mumbai #26 (32), and Nirma University, Ahmedabad #24 (28).
With Tamil Nadu (516) and Maharashtra (370) hosting the largest number of private engineering colleges in the country followed by Karnataka (212), it’s hardly surprising that colleges sited in these three states dominate the national league table. Tamil Nadu has 22 engineering colleges ranked among the private Top 100; Maharashtra 19 and Karnataka 17.
Moreover, it’s important to note that although some colleges are modestly ranked nationally, they are highly ranked in their host states, some of them as populous as European countries. For instance, the Vivekanand Education Society’s Institute of Technology, Mumbai ranked #24 nationally is #1 in Maharashtra, India’s most industrialised state (pop.115 million). GITAM, Visakhapatnam, ranked #28 in India, is #1 in Andhra Pradesh (49 million). Likewise the low-profile Shri GS Institute of Technology & Science, Indore, at #40 nationally is the premier engineering college of Madhya Pradesh (73 million) and Heritage Institute of Technology, Kolkata, ranked #50 nationally, is West Bengal’s #1 private engineering college.