Let me give you the context.
Since the last several years I have been telling College Managements, not hesitate but be willing and aim for breaking into the top 100 NIRF ranks. Why, you may ask? Simple. As you will agree NIRF is here to stay and in a few years will become the only ranking system. But, my urging colleges is because of an altogether different reason. As you may know, NIRF is based on a point ranking system. And if you observe the point distribution it is skewed. There is lot of room at the top. I have been pushing this idea urging colleges to try for the NIRF rank seriously, for this reason.
Recently in July 2022, I had the opportunity to visit an Engineering College, in Bengaluru. While walking down to meet HOD of Mech. Dept., one of the young Asst. Professor reached out to me and told me-
Sir, your prediction in 2019 that soon Companies will check NIRF rank before approaching an Engineering College is coming true. Recently, Volvo visited our college and they were asking us about College NIRF Rank.
Firstly, I should thank the learned Professor for remembering and discussing this topic. Acknowledging insights given by others, is becoming rare today. I asked him how far the NIRF journey in his College has progressed.
His response was not very enthusiastic. Being a Rank Holder in M Tech, and having worked as a Faculty in Engineering for a number of years, he is smart enough to realize that NIRF is here to stay and it is good for everyone. He is also enthusiastic about the “Technology Influencer” initiative and is very keen to become one.
“Technology Influencer” is an initiative I am recommending to colleges, specifically Engineering Colleges.
There in lies the catch. All Professors are interested to become a “Technology Influencer”. But, there is no traction. Because, being an independent “Technology Influencer” is not going to yield much. For the college to support this initiative, it needs to be convinced of “Multiplier Benefits”. This is where Management Role becomes crucial.
Management’s understanding of today’s current needs and their Role is possible, if the Management has undergone a course in Technology Management, or their college was started to promote a vertical in the industry, or it is blessed with an ear to the ground!
If NIRF is so important why is it that many colleges do not apply for it or make a honest effort to get one?
This is the million dollar question.
If one were to see the marks distribution in the NIRF rank, it is actually not very hard to break into the top 75 colleges. You can yourself have a look here NIRF for Engineering Colleges.
So, where should Engineering Colleges begin to get into the Top 75 Rank?
Before we answer this question, let us take cognizance of the realities. Not all colleges are funded well to become research institutions. Not all colleges are located in geographically advantageous locations to get good students. Not all colleges are located in geographically advantageous locations to be easily connected to industries.
Also, as admissions are stabilizing and consolidation is happening, Colleges are forced to be competitive and balance their management fees.
This is putting added pressure on colleges.
In the quest to catch up with the current trends, one of the fundamental mistake some colleges (not all) are doing is increasing their IT related branches such as Data Science and so on and focus less on core branches. Starting IT related branches is fine. But, my suggestion would be to increase the Computer Science Component in the core departments.
Along with the above step, a positive way to catch up with the current trends and take a real shot at NIRF rank would be to adopt the “Technology Influencer” initiative.
The “Technology Influencer” initiative is a scalable initiative and a brief outline is given here. The first step is select a set of trending subjects and enlist younger faculty to take up these subjects. The faculty have to be given support to have the time to collect information regarding the subject and present it in a influencer format on a digital media. The content has to be reformatted and targeted towards well thought out entities such as domestic companies, Govt. institutions and students. The digital properties created have to be owned by the institution to ensure maximum ROI. and become “Information Hub” for these subjects.
The digital media becomes the medium to establish the connect with various stakeholders and also a platform to learn, and enhance knowledge.
So, how does NIRF rank become relevant to the “Technology Influencer” initiative?
The process of securing a NIRF rank is like running on a Tread Mill. You have to keep running to keep scoring a high NIRF rank. Otherwise, there is every possibility of slipping of the rank list.
So, what does this tell us?
The time has come for Engineering Institutions to become outcome oriented institutions, subject themselves to being ranked in a transparent manner and gain a standing among the preferred Engineering colleges.
This is of absolute importance education itself is poised for a change.
Today, it is possible that one can learn Engineering sitting at home! Do not agree?
Just think about it. Detailed videos, blogs and many other resources are available for the students. Many smart students are taking advantage of this. As technology proliferates, this trend will only increase.
The NIRF rank is a yearly ranking system which takes all of the above into account.
New initiatives are needed to meet the new challenges. But, new initiatives cannot be started every year. They can only be improved upon. At the same time, the initiatives started to be sustainable. Sustainability is of paramount importance.
“Technology Influencer” initiative is a fail proof as it is Technology Intensive, Uses Digital Techniques, Addresses all Stakeholders, and very importantly Responsive.
What does Responsive mean?
Responsive because, content development can be suitably aligned depending on the current developments and scaling also can be done based on the progress.
Moreover, as it is the Faculty who will drive the initiative, students will need to interact with the faculty to take advantage of the know how faculty has. This will result in students getting back to faculty in their quest to enhance their careers, which means strengthening the institution. The aim is to increase the importance of role of the faculty and the institution for student’s job search and career success.
Industry aligned students will attract Companies and their HR to the institution, as the feedback from reporting managers will be positive. What remains will be how Placement Managers will market the students and their capabilities.
Over a period of time, as Industry recognizes that students from colleges with better NIRF rank are readily employable, they will obviously be more willing to support colleges with a higher rank. Remember, NIRF is a Govt. agency system, it will have welcoming acceptance in corporate circles.
Given all this, predicting that Industry will flock towards Engineering Colleges with high NIRF rank is no brainer. I am sure you will agree too!