Stringent criteria for assistant professor position at NIT Rourkela goes viral. Officials explain reasoning

A post detailing NIT Rourkela's selection criteria for the Assistant Professor position is circulating on social media as the standards set are excruciatingly high. What is NIT Rourkela's comment on it? Read here to find out
NIT Rourkela on recruitment of Assistant Professor
NIT Rourkela on recruitment of Assistant Professor(Source: EdexLive Desk)

The stringent criteria set by the National Institute of Technology (NIT) Rourkela for the position of Assistant Professor (Grade II) in the Department of Mechanical Engineering have been criticised on the social media platform X.

Garnering over 60,000 views, these requirements, which include having a PhD from an institution ranked within the top 10 by the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), have sparked considerable attention.

With mixed reactions pouring in over the post, a few users argue that higher education institutions have the prerogative to enforce such criteria, while others question the relevance of research to a person's ability to teach.

What does the post mention?
The post was made on July 4, by a user named Sachin Pandey (@serioussachin), who sourced it from the LinkedIn profile of a candidate. The email from the Dean of Faculty Welfare (FW) to a candidate lists the eligibility criteria for the post of Assistant Professor Grade II with Pay Level 11 for the Department of Mechanical Engineering which is as follows:

1) A candidate belonging to the unreserved category must have first class throughout the career

2) For reserved category candidates, second class is permitted in Class X or Class XII but the combined average mark must be 60% or above in Class X and XII.

3) Keeping into consideration the very high number of applications received, the minimum career marks required are set at 75% mark or 8.0 CGPA (out of 10) each in Class X, XII and an undergraduate degree. Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidates will be awarded a relaxation of 5% or 0.5 CGPA.

4) The candidates ought to have been awarded a degree in Mechanical Engineering from institutions having the latest NIRF rank within 50 in the engineering stream.

5) The candidate should have a PhD degree from an institution having the latest NIRF rank within 10 in the overall category or the latest QS World University rank within 400 in the overall category

Lastly,

6) The candidate should have published in at least 3 SCI and SCIE journals as the first author or as the principal supervisor.

EdexLive was able to contact the Dean of FW at NIT Rourkela, to discuss the seemingly high standards set for recruitment.

NIT Rourkela's statement
"The scrutiny process involves multi-stage scrutiny by the Departmental level DFAC (Departmental Faculty Advisory Committee) and Institute level ACoFaR (Advisory Committee for Faculty Recruitment). The shortlisted candidates are further evaluated through presentation and Interviews in front of a national expert team," he said. He further mentioned that the multistage scrutiny and evaluation process ensured that the finest candidates were selected for the development of our institute.

Further supplying clarification on the matter and settling the institution's case, the dean arguably said, "We follow the Recruitment Rules notified by the Ministry of Education, Government of India. As per Annexure-IV, Appendix – A1 of the guidelines issued by the Ministry vide notification No. F.No.33 - 9/2011 - TS lll, dated 30th November, 2017."

Institution can make case-by-case exceptions
The dean further contended that the institution is also liable to make exceptions in accordance with the mandated rules.

"Departments will attempt to set "short listing criteria" that can be easily implemented. But, considering the multiple attributes that need to be considered, it may become necessary to make case-by-case exceptions. ln, all such cases the general shortlisting criteria and the reasons for an exception, if any, are to be recorded in writing," he said.

He further mentioned the criteria that may include conditions such as:

(i) Superior academic record; all through first-class career or higher grades in BTech/MSc/MTech, higher than advertised criteria

(ii) Reputation of institutions from where the candidate has obtained his degrees

(iii) Number of unsuccessful attempts for the same post. (Candidates who have been rejected in the past may be called only if there is a good reason, the reason to be recorded in writing)

(iv) Specialisations (including micro specialisations)

(v) Professional service record; the reputation of the organisation where experience has been earned, nature of job, current activities and so on

Supplication of reason
The Dean also reasoned that since the applications received against four positions in the department were more than expected, hence they resorted to stringent measures to filter the best ones.

"The institute received 627 applications from PhD candidates against four positions in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. All the 627 candidates could not be called for an interview. So, to shortlist the best applicants from the pool of applications, stringent scrutiny criteria were adopted by the department, as it is one of the most demanding departments in terms of admission preference by the students," he said.

To this, he added that degrees procured from reputed institutions would give added weightage to their qualifications.

"NIT Rourkela believes that if the candidates are coming from the top ranking reputed institutes, their teaching and research aptitude must be of high standards due to the exposure and grooming they get in the best teaching and research ecosystems in the country. There, they get proper teaching assistance experience while doing their PhD," he shared.

The dean stated that the decision was made with the vision of transforming the institution into one of the best engineering institutes in India.

"NIT Rourkela is an Institute of National Importance. Our vision is to become one of the best Engineering institutes in India and we understand that to do so, we have to hire the best minds from the best Institutions of India," he concluded.

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