Interview: How NIT Srinagar jumped 170 ranks in one year despite many hurdles

NIT Srinagar rose in engineering college rankings despite operating in one of the most challenging contexts, especially for a technical institution.

Interview: How NIT Srinagar jumped 170 ranks in one year despite many hurdles Rakesh Sehgal, director, NIT Srinagar
Pritha Roy Choudhury | Dec 2, 2021 - 12:02 p.m. IST
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New Delhi: Despite the many challenges of operating in Kashmir — slow internet connections, frequent disruption in mobile networks, restricted movement, the weather — the National Institute of Technology (NIT) Srinagar jumped 170 positions in the education ministry’s ranking of higher educational institutions to attain the 69th position in the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF 2021) ranking list for engineering. Rakesh Sehgal, director, NIT Srinagar, spoke to Careers 360 about the challenges faced and overcome.

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Q. In NIRF 2020, you were placed at 239, in the 200-250 ranking band. How did you rise to the 69th position the very next year?

A. Yes, that is a big achievement for us. We worked very hard for that. We collected our data. People were not interested initially. The problem was that it is a very good institution but nobody was ready to share the information or ready to work on that. So, I formed a team and ensured that we shared the data related to admissions, BTech graduation percentage, number of students in each stream every year, which also included those enrolled for masters (MTech) courses and PhD programmes, data related to expenditure on capital, related to expenses on laboratories, scholarships, fellowships and more. And every 15 days we discussed putting things in place. This time, if we would have got 10 for perception, [this is the weightage assigned to “perception” in the NIRF] we would have been within the top 30 in the NIRF ranking for engineering.

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Q. Being one of the oldest regional engineering colleges and now one of the institutes of national importance (INIs), what are the major problems that you face?

A. The problem is that the system was very lethargic. We are trying to register our alumni association. Our alumni will be ready to contribute once we have a registered alumni association; registration is required for the alumni to get tax benefits. The problem is that the process of registration is very slow here. This place needs a lot of verification. The whole process is much more difficult here than it is for other states. First, there were no rules here. Once Jammu and Kashmir became a union territory, they asked us to wait. Now that they have rules and regulations in place, still, it is taking time. We are on the job and hopefully, very soon our alumni association will be registered and after that, we will be able to generate funds from our alumni as well. Our dean, alumni and international affairs, Mohammad Shafi Mir, is working hard on this and he has promised me that he will get the job done within one or two months.

Our institute has 3,000-plus students, 50 percent from Jammu and Kashmir and the rest from across the country.

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Q. In an earlier conversation, you had said NIT Srinagar is unique and that its problems are unique. Could you explain?

A. We are very much unique because it is a troubled place. It is much easier to manage an institution in other states than to manage an institution here. So many challenges starting from climate, internal disturbances to external ones. Then, internet access is a major issue with shutdown multiple times. Also, the mobile network is shut down now and then. So these are all challenges and we are working in a challenging environment. So definitely we deserve much more appreciation as compared to other NITs. But I would also say, we have got very good facilities in material characterization and materials research area. One of our laboratories, the tribology lab, is among the best five labs in the country.

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Q. Do you face difficulty with placements, since you have a winter vacation, unlike the rest of the country?

A. Our winter vacation starts in mid-December, so we do not face any issue with the placement season. Also, even during the vacation, we place students whenever there is an opportunity. So with placement, we do not face the problem. In 2020, our students were placed with GAIL, ONGC, IOC, Microsoft, Samsung, HCL, Honda to name a few.

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