Published: 15th July 2022
#NIRF2022: Will work on outreach and inclusivity: IIT Madras Director looks ahead after clinching top rank
The institute ranked first overall and bagged the second spot in the Research category. IIT Madras' Director reflects on the path ahead and on the 'healthy' competition with IISc Bangalore
Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, has been ranked as the top overall higher education institution in India for the fourth year running, as per the National Institute Rankings Framework (NIRF) 2022. Additionally, it is also the top-ranked Engineering institution and comes second only to the Indian Institute of Sciences (IISc), Bengaluru in the Research category.
Prof Kamakoti Veezhinathan, Director, IIT Madras, points out the areas of focus as the institute maintains its streak. "We are working hard on outreach and inclusion. We have introduced multiple online programmes, including one on Data Science, for which more than 12,000 students have already signed up. We want to improve access to education and overall perception and have worked hard, despite the pandemic," he remarks.
On the work put in during a year marred by two COVID-19 waves, Prof Kamakoti highlights the steady development of innovation on the campus. "We have filed a record number of patents this year, stacking up to more than 200. We have also received more than 170 grants for our projects. Innovation and entrepreneurship are one of the hallmarks of IIT Madras and we are concentrating on these aspects for next year as well," he says. Interestingly, innovation and entrepreneurship were proposed as a fresh NIRF category from next year by Minister for Education Dharmendra Pradhan, who released this year's rankings on July 15.
Prof Kamakoti reflects that the NIRF has provided higher educational institutions with the impetus to develop quality across various verticals. "NIRF is a wonderful tool. As directors, we get a micro-picture of specific things we need to improve to march towards that scale of 100. It is enthusing the administration, faculty, staff and students. We look at the figures and the parameters and we realise these are specific things we can easily work towards improving," he tells Edexlive in an exclusive chat.
Locked in a one-two battle with IISc, Bengaluru in two important categories has created healthy competition between the two institutions, says Prof Kamakoti. "The rankings help us see a perceptible difference in how the institute is developing and it encourages us to work on those parameters. The competition with IISc is extremely healthy and just as we are striving to become the best research institute, I am sure they are also working towards that top spot in the Overall category," says Prof Kamakoti.
To stay on track with such competition, the Director shines some light on numbers reflected in the NIRF rankings for IIT Madras. The score under the 'Perception' parameter was a healthy 98.75% and Prof Kamakoti is understandably happy with that number. However, the score under the 'Outreach and Inclusivity' parameter hovered just above 60% in both the Overall category, as well as that for the Research category.
"We want to improve leaps and bounds in this parameter, as well as the Learning and Resources score, where we currently managed an 86%. We are already on our way to work on outreach and have launched online courses for which more than 1,30,000 people have signed up. However, it is not just for the number. We are setting up rural technology and interaction centres, where we are reaching out to rural students, in places that need us the most. We want to increase the enrollments in our Data Sciences online programme to at least 25,000 students. I see that as our motive," says Prof Kamakoti, adding, "IIT Madras is an institution for all, and we want to be accessible to as many people as possible."