National Institutes of Technology (NITs) are premier colleges of engineering and technology education in India. They were originally called Regional Engineering Colleges (RECs). In 2002, the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, decided to upgrade, in phases, all the original 17 Regional Engineering Colleges (RECs) as National Institutes of Technology (NITs), on the lines of the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). These institutes are rated just next to the IITs in terms of student quality, research, and placements. There are currently 20 NITs, the latest being NIT, Agartala. The Government of India has introduced the National Institutes of Technology (NIT) Act 2007 to bring 20 such institutions within the ambit of the act and to provide them with complete autonomy in their functioning. The NITs are deliberately scattered throughout the country in line with the government norm of an NIT in every major state of India to promote regional development. The individual NITs, after the introduction of the NIT Act, have been functioning as autonomous technical universities and hence can draft their own curriculum and functioning policies.
It was the dream of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to see India emerge as a leader in science and technology. In order to serve the growing demand for trained quality technical manpower, the Government Of India started fourteen RECs between 1959 and 1965 (NITs located at Allahabad, Bhopal, Calicut, Durgapur, Kurukshetra, Jamshedpur, Jaipur, Nagpur, Rourkela, Srinagar, Surathkal, Surat, Tiruchirapally, and Warangal). Three other NITs were added between 1970 and 1990 (NITs located at Silchar, Hamirpur, and Jalandhar). Each college was a joint and cooperative enterprise of the central government and the concerned state government. Recently, MHRD issued NIT status to three more colleges which are located at Patna (Bihar Engineering College - a 130 year old college), Raipur (Government Engineering College), and Agartala (Tripura Engineering College). All the twenty NITs now offer degree courses at bachelors, masters, and doctorate levels in various branches of engineering and technology. The entire non-recurring expenditure and expenditure for post-graduate courses during the REC times were borne by the central government. On the other hand, the entire recurring expenditure on undergraduate courses was shared equally by the central and the state government. However, since being upgraded to NITs, the central government manages the entire funding for these institutes. The REC system served well initially, but as time passed some state governments did not shoulder proper responsibility to steer the institutes in the right direction. Following the long standing demand for more IITs, the then MHRD Minister Murli Manohar Joshi decided to upgrade the RECs to National Institutes of Technology (NITs). In 2003, all the RECs were upgraded to NITs and the central government took control to run these institutions. The decision to establish NITs was prompted by the following:
- To establish a second tier of institutes to provide quality education to a large number of students.
- To pacify every state demanding an IIT.
- To have a low-cost alternative to IITs.
Since 2002, the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, has upgraded, in phases, all the seventeen Regional Engineering Colleges (RECs) to National Institutes of Technology (NITs). This upgradation was done on the lines of the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) after it was concluded that RECs have immense potential as proven by the success of their alumni and their contributions in the field of technical education. Subsequently, the annual funding for NITs has been increased, they have been provided with more working autonomy, and have been granted deemed-to be-university status to award their own degrees which, in turn, has raised the quality value of their graduates in the knowledge sector. These changes were brought about upon recommendations of the High Powered Review Committee (HPRC) set up by the Union Government. The HPRC, under the chairmanship of Dr. R.A. Mashelkar, submitted its report entitled "Strategic Road Map for Academic Excellence of Future RECs" in 1998.
With the flow of more funds, the NITs are expected to become the best technical institutes and attain the level of IITs. Post upgradation, all the NITs have started showing great improvements in terms of student quality, administration structure, academic research, and student placements.
The National Institutes of Technology Bill, 2007 has been passed in both the houses of Parliament of India. The proposed changes are expected to be implemented from 2007-2008 academic year. The law comes into effect on the 15 August2007 and designates each of the NIT as an Institute of National Importance. The NITs still have a long way to go before becoming international destinations in technical education. However, this is generally true for most colleges in India. New age NIT students are expected to take the NIT brand to newer heights. The NITs need to concentrate on the following things to build a stronger brand name for themselves.
- Update the curriculum regularly, add courses promoting entrepreneurship, and provide flexible options for students.
- Review the state quota system in the interest of student community so that NITs do not lose bright students to other colleges.
- Close the gap between NITs and IITs by recruiting quality faculty to serve growing demands. This seems to be the biggest hurdle as teaching in India is not considered lucrative enough as a career and very few opt for it. With the evolution of information technology, this problem can be solved to some extent by virtual classrooms and video conferences by prominent guest lecturers.
- Build a stable computer network among all the NITs to aid in academic research and to promote student involvement by collectively publishing a magazine about various college events and happenings.
- Build on the current reputation, instead of trying to get the IIT status.
- Develop a strong image by using the over hyped ranking surveys to their own advantage.
- Ensure that they continue to offer one of the best undergraduate programmes in engineering and also strengthen up their postgraduate programmes to global standards.
- Strengthen up the NIT-IIT network to facilitate faculty exchange and knowledge transfer.
- Redesign the placement system to ensure that students do not end up joining mundane IT Sector jobs but rather take up more challenging and innovative jobs.
- Encourage entrepreneurship by creating incubation centres and start inhouse developments to commercialize student innovations. High Multinational corporation salaries can be a hindrance to nurture entrepreneurship, therefore NITs should ensure that the entrepreneurial students do not get distracted by the MNCs.
- Protect intellectual property. There should be a separate department in every Institute to spread and enhance the awareness about IPs among students and faculty.
- Starting new courses which really serve the purpose of industry, like disaster management, environmental sciences, VLSI, and signal processing.
- Conduct regular seminars and workshops to educate students and faculty about new developments in the industry.
- Build a better platform for interaction with the industry to attract projects and internships.
- Serve the country by coming up with strategies and innovations that could help promote rural development.
The NITs have defined a common mission for the next two decades—producing thinking engineers. A final draft of the "Vision-2025 for NITs" has already been circulated to the directors of all the twenty NITs and will be submitted to the Government of India upon their final approval.
The Vision-2025 document’s draft has visualised a greater autonomy for the NITs in their functioning and has identified 16 emerging fields like food processing, agriculture, healthcare, nanotechnology, and biotechnology as the potential thrust areas to focus on in the coming years. These 16 emerging fields will be further clubbed under four major heads for ascertaining the advanced research and experiments needed by the country. This categorization has been done as the NITs have visualised that India will play a leading role in the field of technology.
The Draft Committee Chairman has said that the Vision-2025 Document primarily embodied the plan of action, areas of thrust for emerging technologies, and scope of NITs in nation-building. As per the draft prepared by the committee, a generalised structure for the NIT Council and governance has also been spelled out. Under it, the council would have an elite representation of eminent educationists, directors of NITs, and invited scientists and researchers of international repute, besides senior officials of the Ministry of HRD.
The vision-2025 document had, for the first time, talked about producing thinking engineers after realising the fact that despite creating world-class infrastructure, the present system has failed to produce quality engineers having the capability of developing new technologies. These so-called thinking engineers envisioned by the NITs would be technically sound persons, having the sensitivity for the cause of the nation and also having the zeal necessary for producing indigenous technologies suited for the country. The draft has a detailed description about the various programmes and activities that will be taken up by the institutions during the coming two decades. It also summarises the activities and the projects that will be carried out in the field of resource management, disaster mitigation, entertainment and lifestyle, computer and IT services, material and processing, as well as technology management.
Intranet among NITs (NITNET)
The need for an intranet among the NITs was very strongly felt during the meeting of the directors held at MANIT Bhopal. Hence an intranet (may be named as NITNET) is conceived. This would nurture research, collaboration and overall academic development in the NITs through inter-institute, interdisciplinary, and collaborative approaches. In the developed countries, especially USA, major colleges and universities share a very high-speed intranet, called Internet2, which is aimed at research collaboration. Incidentally, the Government of India owned ERNET network is a member of Internet2. Perhaps, NITs will also join this elite computer network in the future.
Initially, the NITNET may be implemented as a VPN (Virtual Private Network) through a well established ISP. For this purpose, the Ministry of Human Resources Department (MHRD) would be requested to sanction an initial grant of Rs 10 crores, with a recurring charge of Rs 5 lakhs per annum for each institute. Motilal Nehru NIT, Allahabad is constructing a small building to commemorate the golden jubilee of the REC/NIT scheme of the Government of India. The building would have a data center and the nodal intranet centre may be housed in this building. After fine-tuning the technological specifications, a proposal would be made to all the directors and upon consensus, MHRD would be requested for the funds.
The President of India is the ex officio visitor and the most powerful person in the organizational structure of NITs. The NIT Council, which works directly under him, comprises the minister-in-charge of technical education in Central Government, the Chairmen and the Directors of all the NITs, the Chairman of UGC, the Director General of CSIR, the Directors of other selected central institutions of repute, members of Parliament, Joint Council Secretary of Ministry of Human Resource and Development, nominees of the Central Government, AICTE, and the Visitor.
Following the NIT Council is the Board of Governors of individual NITs. The Director, serving under the Board of Governors, is the chief academic and executive officer of the respective NIT. The academic policies of an NIT are decided by its Senate, which is composed of all the professors and a few representatives. The Senate controls and approves the curriculum, courses, examinations, and results. It also appoints committees to look into specific academic matters. The teaching, training, and research activities of various departments of the institute are periodically reviewed to maintain educational standards. The Director of an NIT is the ex officio Chairman of the Senate. Under the Director in the organizational structure is the Deputy Director. The Director and the Deputy Director together manage the Deans, Heads of Departments, Registrar, President of the Students' Council, and Chairman of the Hall Management Committee. Deans and Heads of Departments in NITs are administrative postings and not career paths. Faculty members are posted as Deans and Heads of Departments for a limited period, typically 2–3 years, returning to regular faculty academic duties thenceforth. The Registrar is the chief administrative officer of the NIT and overviews the day-to-day operations. Below the Head of Department (HOD), are the various faculty members (professors, assistant professors, and lecturers). The Warden serves under the Chairman of the Hall Management Committee.
The current composition of the BOG of every individual NIT consists of the following members:
- Chairman -An Eminent Technologist / Engineer /Industrialist / Educationist to
be nominated by the Govt. of India.
- Member Secretary- Director of the NIT
- Nominee of the Ministry of HRD, Govt. of India
- Nominee of the Department of the Higher / Technical Education, Govt. of Bihar
- Head of another Technical Institution in the region or an eminent Technologist to be
nominated by Central Govt.
- Director, IIT (in the region) or his nominee
- Nominee of the UGC not below the rank of a Dy Secretary
- Nominee of the AICTE not below the rank of an Advisor
- An Alumnus of the Institute from amongst alumni in Education / Industry to be nominated by Board of
- Two representatives representing large, medium and small scale Industries to be nominated by Central
- One Professor and one Assistant Prof. of the Institute by rotation
There has been a long standing demand for more number of IITs in India. But due to the enormous costs and infrastructure involved in creating a new IIT from scratch, the Indian government decided to upgrade all the RECs (Regional Engineering Colleges) to NITs in 2002. After the upgradation, NITs came under a complete control of central government and the government is trying to replicate the IIT system in these institutes.
With Indian technology industry booming like never before, the government decided to upgrade twenty National Institutes of Technology to full-fledged technical universities. Moreover, a bill was introduced in the Parliament of India to enable NITs in becoming centres of excellence like IITs. The target is to fulfill the need for quality manpower in the field of engineering, science, and technology and to provide similar governance, fee structure, and rules in all the NITs. The modified bill has been passed by both the houses of Parliament and will be implemented from 15 August 2007.
When all the RECs were upgraded to NITs, it was proposed to use the well tested and established IIT-JEE examination for admission to the NITs. However, in view of the larger pool of candidates and the consequent scaling up of operations that would have been required, the IITs declined. The admission to undergraduate programs of all the NITs is done by the All India Engineering Entrance Examination popularly known as AIEEE. In addition to the NITs, a host of other well known national level reputed institutes like DA-IICT, DCE, NSIT, IIITs, SPA Delhi, BIT Mesra, IIEST(proposed) accept students from this examination. The examination is objective by nature and will be conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education popularly known as the CBSE uptil 2008. More than eighty thousand(80,000) students appeared in 2008 for around 9000 seats in the B. Tech and B. Arch programmes available in all the NITs put together. Academic Session 2009 onwards the NITs have been entrusted with the task of organizing the AIEEE right from setting the question paper up to the counselling of students through their own set up under one umbrella, which will automatically entail the administrative procedure of the whole process. Every year from 2009 an elected set of NITs selected on a rotation basis will take individual turns to conduct the exam at the national level just like the IITs do for the IIT-JEE.
The admissions into the postgraduate programmes are made through various other exams, like
- Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) - for admission to M. Tech courses in various NITs. However, NITs may also conduct a separate individual examination followed by an interview for admission to these courses. It is also planned to introduce dual-degree courses in both science and technology in emerging areas in the forthcoming sessions.
- NITs MCA Common Entrance Test (NIMCET) - for admission to MCA courses offered by the CSE department of respective NIT. As of 2005, this national level exam was attempted by more than 14,000 candidates for around 400 seats offered by all the institutes put together and is conducted by a participating NIT every year through a policy of rotation.
- A common entrance examination for admission to the MBA and M.Sc courses offered by some of the NITs has been finalised to be conducted from the next academic year. This exam will be on the basis of the highly competitive CAT conducted by the IIMs.The NITs have been told to strngthen their Basic Science and Management Departments.
- Separate examinations or interviews are conducted by each NIT for admission to their M. Tech (Research), M.S. (Research), and Ph. D programmes.
- Recently, some NITs have started granting Research Scholarship in various disciplines. The information regarding this scholarship is available in their respective websites.
The NIT brand is regarded very highly as one of the premier technical education institutes in India. Before getting the NIT status from MHRD, the RECs were under respective state governments control. Consequently, lesser funds and, at times, regional politics resulted in a lack of direction. But despite the problems, NITs have churned out quality graduates who can compete with the best. The student community has started seeing NITs as a quality alternative to IITs and as a result, NITs have some of the best students from all over India. Since REC days, students from these institutes have been achieving great success in their careers. Many of them have become entrepreneurs and have floated their own companies.
The reputation of NITs as centres of excellence has gained acceptance in industry as well as in academia, primarily because the standard of education and quality of NIT students has been consistently better than most other colleges in India. This has led to the establishment of a so-called brand name for the institutes. Various nationwide college surveys rate most of the NITs over other colleges in India, except for the IITs and a few other institutions, confirming the eliteness of NITs in the field of technical education. The NIT colleges function autonomously, since their upgradation from being a REC, sharing only the entrance tests between them. The autonomy in education enables the NITs to set up their own curricula, thereby making it easier for them to adapt rapidly to the changes in industry requirements.
The course schedules are divided into semesters with evaluation on the basis of the credits system, which allows for proportional weighting of subjects based on their importance. For each semester, the students are graded on a scale from 0 to 10 based on their performance throughout the semester. Each semester's evaluation is done independently and then the weighted overall average of all the semesters is used to evaluate the cumulative grade point average (CGPA).
The NITs, like the IITs, are also planning to start a special dual degree programs. It is an integrated postgraduate program that completes in a total of 5 years rather than 6 years in the conventional track of a BTech followed by an MTech degree. The dual degree programs encourage academic research, therefore, based on their success in the IITs, this integrated program is being introduced for various new courses in NITs, especially for mathematics and computing. Some NITs have recently started offering 'Research Scholar' programmes to encourage research oriented thinking in young minds. IIT Kanpur has recently started an undergraduate research scholar programme (10-week long summer program) for their own students as well as for all sophomore and prefinal year NIT students. It is part of a Quality Improvement Programme (QIP) and the IITs are doing a good job in improving the quality of staff in NITs under this programme.
Factors behind success
The NITs are considered fairly successful institutions compared to other engineering colleges in India, behind only the IITs and a few other institutions, as shown by a number of educational surveys. One of the contributing factors to their success is the autonomous status of NITs, as brought forward by the National Institute of Technology Bill, 2006. The NIT Act, on the lines of the IIT Act, will ensure that the NITs get special privileges. The bill lays the foundations for them to keep evolving as world-class institutes.
Another factor that has contributed to the fresh lease of success of the NITs is the stringent faculty recruitment procedure and their renewed industry collaboration. The procedure for selection of faculty is more stringent compared to most other colleges offering similar degrees. The faculty for any position, apart from that of lecturers, are accepted only if they have a Ph.D. degree and have relevant teaching and industry experience. All the NITs have made Ph.D. degree mandatory for the positions of professor and assistant professor. The existing faculty members who do not meet these criteria are being made to enroll under Quality Improvement Programme (QIP) at IITs and IISc. The placements in all the NITs have skyrocketed lately, the booming Indian economy being the driving force. Student politics has also been regulated by strictly monitoring the electoral process for the student bodies of these institutes.
Dining Hall, Kailash Boys' Hostel, NIT Hamirpur
NIT-Raipur Golden Jubilee Celebration
Cultural Festival at NIT Durgapur
All the NITs provide on campus housing to its students, research scholars, and faculty members. The students live in hostels, also known as halls, throughout their college life. Most of the students have single accommodation but a sizable number of students have to live in double or triple rooms during their initial years. Every hostel has a recreation room equipped with cable television, magazines, newspapers, and indoor games. Moreover, internet connectivity is provided to help students complete their assignments online (whenever applicable) in all the rooms. Every hall in NITs has its own mess managed by the college administration, or by a local private organization in some NITs. In addition to the hall messes, all the NITs have a common canteen for students and a separate common canteen for professors. During vacations, hostel messes are generally closed and the common canteens serve students who choose to stay on campus.
All the NITs have a Central Library equipped with a good collection of technical books, literature, fiction, scientific journals, and other electronic material. Most of the NITs have digitized their libraries for easy indexing. Some NITs also provide intranet library facility to students. Every departmental library in NIT has high-speed internet connectivity. The electronic libraries allow students to access online journals and other periodicals through the AICTE-INDEST consortium, an initiative by Ministry of Human Resource Development, and students are also given access to IEEE documents and journals to explore more via e-learning resources. While some NITs already have facilities for video conferencing, others are catching up to these changes quite fast under the World Bank funded TEQIP scheme. Moreover, technical seminars are organized from time to time in all the NITs by faculties and researchers from IITs, IISc, and other reputed foreign universities and research labs.
Students in all the NITs have a variety of extra curricular options to choose from. Popular activities include National Cadet Corps (NCC), National Service Scheme (NSS), International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), and annual college festivities. All the NITs have athletic grounds and facilities for cricket, football, hockey, volleyball, lawn tennis, badminton, track running, and swimming pools (in a few) for aquatic events. Moreover, most hostels also have their own mini sports grounds.
Students at NITs run various hobby clubs like Linux User Groups (LUGs), music clubs, debate clubs, literary clubs, and web design teams. Students also publish campus magazines which showcase the creativity of students and articles written by them. Moreover, students conduct regular quizzes and cultural programmes within the campus. They also present research papers and participate in national level technical festivals at NITs, IITs, and IISc. Most NITs are promoting entrepreneurship by creating on campus incubation centers under the STEP programme. But this programme needs to gain more momentum in order to provide the right support to budding entrepreneurs.
Students also participate in the activities of Training and Placement Department (TPD) by directly helping the Training and Placement (TnP) officers to boost their college's placement record. In all the NITs, the TPD invites companies for recruitment and arranges amenities for company representatives.
All the NITs individually conduct annual student elections to elect a General Secretary and Vice President of the student body. These people are generally responsible for communicating with the college management and media, organising college festivals, and also for various development programmes in their college. Some NITs (like SVNIT, Surat and VNIT Nagpur) have recently adopted online voting process. Moreover, to promote student involvement in the management, it is mandatory to have a student body representative in the committee which monitors the flow of funds and suggests ways to invest them in the best possible way. This committee also consists of the Chairman of Board, an MHRD Representative, and NIT professors.
Disciplinary Committee (DISCO)
A Disciplinary Committee (DISCO), which consists of the Director, the student affairs officer, and some professors, is present in all the NITs to establish a peaceful environment on campus. DISCO regulates student activities and takes strict measures against ragging and illegitimate student politics. DISCO needs to submit annual reports to MHRD about campus affairs. After some horrible ragging incidents, all the NITs have been taking strict measures against it and the first year students are well protected during their initial months on campus. NIT campuses across India arrange official welcome parties and interaction sessions to acquaint newcomers with senior students and professors.
Inter NIT Sports Meet
NIT students get good recreation and sports facilities. Every year, all the NITs compete in an Inter-NIT sports meet, which is conducted on a rotation policy by each NIT. During this meet, various sports competitions are held and winners get cash prizes and trophies. Separate events for boys and girls are organized. Moreover, during the months of February and March, all the NITs conduct annual sports meet in their respective locations. It is however proposed that from 2007-2008 academic session Inter NITs will not be held during the working days of the academic calendar. This is to facilitate participation of larger number NITs and to avoid students participating in them to miss their classes. It is proposed to be held during Winter every year with different sports organized in different NITs by rotation
Every year, all the NITs conduct technical and cultural festivals which provide a very good opportunity to the student community for showcasing their talents. These events help in enhancing a college's image and reputation. During these festivals, many events like research paper presentations, business quizzes, online coding contests, and robotics competitions are conducted. Some NITs conduct Online Coding Contests which attract participants from various leading multinational corporations and reputed international universities. A prize in these national level technical festivals gives a big boost to a student's CV. Apart from technical festivals, NITs also conduct cultural festivals which provide a platform for budding talents to showcase their creative side. During these cultural festivals, popular celebrities are invited to perform and these shows attract students from various colleges. These festivals generally last for 3 or 4 days and are usually held in the spring season in all the NITs. These festivals attract a good amount of support from corporates in various forms and the college management allocates a substantial budget to support these events. These events not only provide a platform to students but they also enhance the college's reputation. Moreover, the corporates love these opportunities to reach the student community, resulting in a win-win situation for both the industry and the academia.
NIT alumni are working in all parts of the globe and many alumni associations exist in cities around the world. However, despite great achievements by NITians, the NIT brand is somewhat downplayed by the Indian media in favor of IITs. But with the newly found NIT status, NITs are no longer expected to keep a low profile. In fact, by 2010, NITs are expected to sit equally with the IIT brand. All the NITs have chalked out vision plans to make the NIT brand stronger. It is also proposed to set up a common DAN-NIT network on the association of the popular PAN-IIT network. This would include all the current alumni associations of individual institutes and would help in creating a more larger and accurate database and to bring together all NITians under a common umbrella with the intention of taking the NIT Brand ahead.
In most of the NITs, alumni sponsored scholarship programs provide funding to poor students. However, NIT alumni need to be more active and show more enthusiasm in supporting their alma mater. Some of NITs alumni are working as professors in IITs, IISc, IIMs, NITs, and also abroad in colleges like Stanford and Caltech. Every year, a large number of NIT students carry on their education by joining prestigious institutes like IIMs, ISB,XLRI, IIFT in India and the likes of Stanford, Georgia Tech, CMU and MIT abroad. Moreover, many former students from NITs occupy key positions in several global corporations.
Currently, half of the undergraduate student body in any NIT comes from the home state and the other half comes from the rest of India. But this has been a subject of criticism for many years. Nonetheless, all the NITs have students from almost every part of India. Since India is an extremely diverse nation, students come from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, speak various languages, wear different dresses, and have peculiar food habits. Such eclectic student body makes each NIT campus a little India in itself. Moreover, since the NIT course structure attracts best students from all corners of the country, the institute provides a perfect platform for young engineers to not only excel technically but also develop interpersonal, leadership, and entrepreneurial skills.
Edited from WIKIPEDIA