Not only did the non-achievement of targets of infrastructure development affect the student intake at all the eight Indian Institute of Technology (IITs) set up in 2008 and 2009 but also did it affect the quality of students’ learning, said the Performance Audit (PA) by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) in a report on setting up of new IITs released Wednesday.
The PA was undertaken for the period of 2019 and 2020 to assess the setting up of the new IITs in Bhubaneswar (IITBBS), Gandhinagar (IITGN), Hyderabad (IITH), Indore (IITI), Jodhpur (IITJ), Mandi, Patna (IITP) and IIT Ropar. The assessment was based on creation of infrastructure, procurement of equipment and services, financial management and academic performance.
“Though the infrastructure works like construction of academic buildings, hostels, laboratories etc, were undertaken in a phased manner in all IITs from 2012, the pace of their creation did not correspond with the pace of envisaged increase of student/faculty. The delays were significantly high in respect of five IITs (IITH up to 56 months, IIT Mandi up to 41 months, IIT Ropar up to 39 months, IIT Gandhinagar and IITI up to 37 months),” the CAG report states.
These delays, the CAG report points out, resulted in “the laboratory/research requirement of students not being met, thus affecting the quality of their learning” along with “the effective performance of these IITs as it resulted in low student intake, delays in installation of equipment and inadequate residential accommodation”.
The reasons for delays cited by these institutes included excessive time taken in finalisation of designs, obtaining regulatory clearances, statutory approvals, default on part of contractors, shortage of labour and remoteness of area among others.
As per estimates by the CAG report, these delays also resulted in overall cost overrun of Rs 8,252 crore for all the eight IITs while the works concerned remained incomplete at the end of the targeted timelines.
Further, these delays affecting the enrollment are manifested in the report. “It was observed that none of the eight IITs attained the stipulated cumulative intake of 2,360 students at the end of the sixth year (2013-14),” it states.
Highlighting the percentage of non-achievement of targeted intake which was highest in IIT Ropar (77 per cent) and lowest in IITH (42 per cent), the CAG report concluded, “As against the overall targeted intake of 18,880 students, only 6,224 students (33 per cent) were admitted in all the eight IITs during the first six years, thereby not fully achieving its objectives of maximising educational opportunity to students. It was observed that till 2018-19, only IITH was able to achieve the targeted student intake.”
“There was inadequate representation of students belonging to reserved categories (SC/ST/OBC) in PG and PhD enrolment in all eight IITs, showing that the benefits of education at premier technical institutes is not reaching these students,” the report highlights.
The shortfall in SC student intake in PG courses went up to 30 per cent (IITGN) and that of ST students ranged between seven per cent (IIT Ropar) and 69 per cent (IIT Gandhinagar).
Similarly, in PhD courses, the shortfall ranged from 25 per cent (IIT Hyderabad) to 75 per cent (IIT Ropar) in respect of SC students and 65 per cent (IIT Bhubaneswar) to 100 per cent (IIT Jodhpur) in respect of ST students.
As per the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in admission) Act, 2006, out of the annual permitted strength in each branch of study or faculty, 15 per cent, seven and half per cent and 27 per cent seats shall be reserved for the Scheduled Castes (SC), the Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBC), respectively.
Moreover, in postgraduate and PhD programmes, overall “vacancies were observed across all eight IITs indicating a need for realistic assessment of the student intake as well as evaluation of these programmes with an objective of attracting required suitable students”.
“There was no action taken by the Ministry of Education (MoE) in this regard to guide all the IITs to enroll more PG candidates,” the CAG report further stated.
Also, despite the efforts put in by the IITs and increase in faculty recruitment from year-to-year, vacancies ranging from 5 to 36 per cent in faculty positions were observed in seven IITs.
“This inhibited speedy expansion of student intake. In the long run, the vacancies will have an impact on the quality of education as vacancies increase the workload on existing faculty in these premier institutions,” it was observed.
MoE has permitted increase in sanction of faculty positions linked with the increase in students i.e., sanction of faculty posts to be increased by one for every increase of students by 10 (1: 10 ratio).
The Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-12) envisaged setting up of eight new IITs for the expansion and upgradation of institutions rendering technical education to meet the skilled manpower needs of the country, while also providing for social equity.
It was also seen that all the IITs received very low levels of funding for research projects, sponsored from non-government sources. Thus, they remained dependent on the government for funding of their research activities.
There was also a large variance between the patents filed and obtained by all the eight IITs and no patents were obtained during the five-year period, indicating that the research activities could not bring out fruitful results.
“There was slow utilization of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Loan which inhibited the growth of IITH campus in a timely manner. IITs were unable to generate sufficient internal receipts and thus remained dependent on the government for grants,” the PA report said.