Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Too many IITs, unrealistic expectations


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: IITs and other premier institutions

Mains level: Read the attached story


  • New Campus: IIT Madras Zanzibar, inaugurated recently, gained widespread attention following a mention by Amitabh Bachchan on the game show Kaun Banega Crorepati.
  • Significance: The establishment of an IIT campus outside India raises questions about the implications and challenges of operating an IIT beyond national borders.

Historical Context of IITs

  • Founding Principles: The IITs were established with a focus on contributing to the nation’s human resource development, emphasizing their Indian identity and commitment to national service.
  • Technological Geography: Envisioned as institutions of “Indianness,” the IITs symbolize a united India driven by technological advancements, as outlined in the Nalini Ranjan Sarkar Committee’s Report.

Expansion of the IIT System

  • Origins and Growth: Initially comprising five institutions, the IIT system expanded over the years to include 23 IITs across the country, with varying degrees of foreign collaboration.
  • Evolution: While initially focused on technology and engineering, the IITs have evolved to include humanities and social sciences, aligning with the objectives outlined in the National Education Policy of 2020.

Challenges and Realities

  • Institutional Characteristics: The IITs differ from traditional universities in terms of discipline range and size, primarily focusing on undergraduate education and gradually incorporating post-graduate offerings.
  • Academic Rigor and Selectivity: Renowned for their academic excellence, the IITs attract top-tier students and faculty, maintaining rigorous standards despite challenges in faculty recruitment and retention.
  • Regional Presence: The proliferation of IITs across the country, including in smaller towns, raises concerns about maintaining quality standards and infrastructure outside major urban centers.

Adapting to Changing Realities

  • Quality Assurance: Ensuring the quality and relevance of IIT education requires strategic planning and resource allocation, particularly in the face of faculty shortages and infrastructure constraints.
  • Internationalization Efforts: Collaborative initiatives with global universities and enhanced recruitment of foreign faculty can bolster the international reputation and competitiveness of the IITs.
  • Funding and Sustainability: Sustainable funding models, both from government sources and alumni philanthropy, are crucial to preserving the integrity and excellence of the IITs amidst expansion and globalization.

Recommendations for the Future

  • Strategic Focus: Prioritizing excellence over expansion, consolidating resources, and strategically locating IIT campuses can ensure sustained quality and relevance.
  • Global Engagement: Strengthening international collaborations and student exchange programs while maintaining the essence of Indian identity can enhance the global standing of the IITs.
  • Sustainable Growth: Balancing growth with quality assurance measures and fostering regional connections can address challenges associated with overexpansion and ensure long-term sustainability.


  • Preserving Excellence: Upholding the legacy of academic excellence and national service while adapting to changing educational landscapes is essential for the continued success of the IITs.
  • Strategic Vision: A strategic and sustainable approach to growth, internationalization, and quality assurance is imperative to maintain the IITs’ position as India’s premier institutions of higher learning.
  • Collective Responsibility: Collaboration among stakeholders, including government, academia, industry, and alumni, is crucial to safeguarding the integrity and reputation of the IITs for generations to come.

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