IIT system has traditionally been known for the quality of
undergraduate education it imparts. However, over the last
decade the IITs have been increasing their research focus and
making the transition to becoming quality research institutions.
A key element in enhancing research is strengthening the Ph.D
programmes and enhancing the quality and quantity of Ph.D output.
At most universities around the world it is the work done by
the Ph.D students under the guidance of faculty that result
in publications, patents, awards. The hallmark of a vibrant
research environment is its research scholars (Ph.D and post-doctoral
does India compare in terms of science and engineering doctorates?
It is estimated that India produces about 4500 science doctorates
and about 400 engineering doctorates annually. In comparison,
the US produced about 7000 engineering doctorates and 20,000
science doctorates in 2003, China produces about 8000 engineering
and science doctorates. It is interesting to note that during
the period 1985-2000, of the US science and engineering doctorates
13,274 were from India almost 1000 per year of which Engineering
and Computer Science accounted for about 7300 or 480 per year).
countries have understood that in order to maintain leadership
in R & D today they need to increase science & engineering
doctoral outputs. In the US 60% of the science and engineering
doctorates are graduates from other countries. Germany, UK,
Japan and Korea are also trying to attract international students
for doctoral studies.
1995 Japan launched the 'plan for 10,000 - man support for
Post-doctorates' that attempts to provide about 10,000 post-docopportunities
in Japanese research institutions and universities. Over the
last few years IIT Bombay has been visited by several delegations
from some of the top universities of the world, who are keen
on forging linkages with the Institute. One of the prime purposes
of such collaborations is to attract some of our brightest
talents for their doctoral programmes.
Why are science and engineering
doctorates important for India? If India is to be a leader in science and technology,
it is essential
to have independent thinkers and innovators. Ph.D provides rigorous
training on a focused problem where the candidate has to come up
with an original contribution. In India we produce about 360,000
engineering graduates in about 2000 engineering colleges and universities
every year. There is an acute shortage of quality faculty in these
colleges. At IIT Bombay we have taken conscious efforts to enhance
our post-graduate output. At present 60% of our output is post-graduates;
this is a significant increase over the 1990 numbers when we had
less than 50 % post-graduates. In this year's convocation (August,
2005) we expect to award about 110 Doctoral degrees (40 Science,
60 Engineering, 12 Humanities and Management). Our present faculty
strength is about 420. Hence the annual Ph.D/faculty ratio is about
0.25. This ratio is probably among the highest for any Indian engineering
institution. A targetfor a good research institution should be
above 0.5 Ph.D students graduating per faculty per year (University
of Illinois-Urbanna Champaign ~0.4, MIT~0.8, Stanford and Berkeley~0.8-1.0).
At present in many of the engineering departments we are not able
to fill up the funded Ph.D seats due to a paucity of quality applicants.
can we do to enhance our Ph.D output? The first motivating
factor is to increase salaries that doctorates command. A survey
of starting salaries of graduating students in 2004 at the
College of Engineering in the University of Illinois Urbana
Champaign(USA) revealed that the average monthly salaries for
B S graduates was $4146, $5208 for MS graduates and $6245 for
PhD graduates(50% above the B S starting salary). At IIT Bombay,
of the 128 companies that participated in campus placements,
only 10 were interested in recruiting PhDs and finally none
of them recruited any PhD student. The starting salaries in
most academic and research openings in India are just about
equal to the salaries of the graduating B.Tech students (Rs
300,000 per year).
recent initiative by the CII - Western region and IIT Bombay
industry - education committee is building a mechanism to provide
suitable jobs for IIT Bombay PhDs in industry. Industry sponsorship
of fellowships for Ph.D students can also help attract better
students. We have now provided our Ph.D students the funding
to attend international conferences and also encourage them
to incubate companies through our newly established Society
for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE). A recently launched
collaboration with NUS Singapore has started a joint IITB -
NUS PhD programme on advanced materials. We need to team up
with the industry and government to attract our bright youngsters
to pursue PhDs in science and engineering.