Unsuccessful placements at top IITs: What they mean, and what students can do

Dheeraj Singh, Founder of the Global IIT Alumni Support Group, says that both IITs and their students must be better prepared for placements during an economic downturn
Here's what IIT students can do to prepare
Here's what IIT students can do to prepare

Over the past few months, the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have invited much scrutiny due to reports of low placement numbers in their second phase of placements.

This trend has been especially prominent in more prestigious IITs, such as Delhi, Bombay, Madras, and Kanpur – which are among the top-ranked educational institutions in India. 

IITs conduct their placements in two phases – one in December and the other between January and June. 

Dheeraj Singh, an alumnus of IIT Kanpur and Founder of the Global IIT Alumni Support Group, compiled this data from the four IITs in question. As per his estimate, about 30-35 per cent of students from these institutes failed to get hired in the campus placements. 

“I started looking into the data when the students we mentored told us that they were finding it difficult to get placed. I did not know that the issue would blow up this much,” Singh states. To date, his findings have been reported on by several prominent media houses. 

When it comes to IIT Bombay...

According to Singh, these figures were obtained through Right to Information (RTI) inquiries, data compiled through the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), and first-hand student accounts. 

From the NIRF data collected from IIT Bombay, Singh found out that out of 2,000 students, 712 students registered for placements in Phase II, which ends in May this year. Out of these students, about 36 per cent of the students did not get placed, as also reported by Hindustan Times. In the previous phase of placements, only 1,485 students were placed out of 2,209 registered students – meaning that 32 per cent of the students were not placed. 

Refuting these figures, IIT Bombay took to X to issue a clarification about the students who did not get placed. Posting a pie chart of an exit survey conducted among graduating students of the 2022-23 batch, the institute asserted that only 6.1 per cent of students were still looking for jobs. 

Moreover, the figures of the survey point out that 10.3 per cent found jobs off-campus, 8.3 per cent were pursuing jobs in the public service, 12.2 per cent went on to pursue higher studies, and 1.6 per cent of the students went on to establish their own companies. 

Calling these disclosures “a form of data manipulation”, Singh says that the figures from the institute still show that barely 60 per cent of students got placed in that year. 

“For example, let’s look at the institution’s claim that 8.3 per cent of students were pursuing jobs in the public service, do they mean that these students have appeared for entrance exams? Does this mean that they are preparing for entrance exams? If they are, most of them would also parallelly be employed somewhere. This data doesn’t provide the full picture,” he explains. 

Singh also questions the gender disparity in the figures, saying that 282 female students for 1,061 male students is not a desirable ratio. 

His data further shows that other top IITs, like IIT Madras, IIT Delhi and his alma mater IIT Kanpur were also struggling with placements. 

RTI responses from IIT Delhi reveal that 1,035 students secured jobs till February 28 this year, and 1,050 students got job offers in Phase I of the placements in December, as also reported by The Telegraph. 

Singh says that upon correlating these figures with the NIRF data of IIT Delhi, he observed that the institute could have recorded a placement rate of 60 per cent in 2022 and 63 per cent in 2023 – meaning that 37-40 per cent of students could not get placed in the placements. He adds that the RTI response from IIT Delhi did not contain data on the number of students registered for placements. 

Similarly, RTI responses from IIT Madras reveal that 1,150 students from a total of 2,100 registered students secured jobs in both phases of the placements, leaving 950 students who failed to get placed. Singh estimates that about 45.2 per cent of students might not have been placed in IIT Madras. 

As for IIT Kanpur, his alma mater, Singh claims to have analysed the placement trends purely based on the students’ feedback. He estimates that in 2024, about 1,600 students registered for placements, and 1,100 students were placed – leaving 31.3 per cent or 500 students without jobs in hand. 

Similarly, out of 1,660 students registered for placements in 2023, Singh estimates that 23.6 per cent of the students (391 students) failed to get placed. 

Singh adds that these figures are just the tip of the iceberg – and less prominent IITs have it worse. 

“If IIT Bombay, which is said to have the largest campus placements in India, can provide jobs to barely 60 per cent of its students. Imagine how worse it is for newer, less coveted IITs,” he says. 

What the trends tell us 

When asked about what these numbers reveal, Singh asserts that these numbers indicate a severe lack of job creation. 

“We have noticed that the funding of start-ups has gone down, and they are not opting for campus placements. Moreover, the starting annual packages of companies offering jobs have also decreased over the years. Students who graduate from IITs expect to receive packages in seven figures and eight figures, and won’t settle for Rs 3-4 lakh per annum packages,” he explains. 

This is a worrisome trend, he says. “As the risks of unemployment and underemployment are looming over us, we see billionaires getting richer,” he adds. 

He even accuses IITs of not being prepared enough for the campus placements, in the face of economic downturn. “Every other day, we see news of companies laying off their employees in huge numbers. There is also the threat of AI replacing human workers. As the centres of technology innovation of our country, could IITs not predict the market downturns, and prepare accordingly?” Singh questions. 

Due to these trends, he says, students are left feeling anxious and depressed for not being able to secure attractive packages. “IITs make big announcements when some of their students receive crore-plus packages, which convinces everyone that they should also be able to do it. But when they don’t, they will start doubting themselves and their capabilities,” he says. 

What can students do?

In these tumultuous times, Singh advises students to focus on establishing a stable career. 

“Get the best job that is available to you, and don’t get disheartened if you don't get attractive packages. Focus on gaining enough work experience, and keep upskilling yourselves. Your priority in an economic downturn must be career stability, not career progression,” he explains. 

Further, he also adds that students must focus on their soft skills, presentation, and CVs to be able to have a better chance at being picked by employers. 

(Contains inputs from source and other news agencies)

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