There's been an amazing response to my previous post asking engineering students to help JAM with its Engineering College Rating exercise.
That's the good news. The bad news is the task is so gigantic that we aren't actually going to publish a comprehensive national/ statewise rating this year.
We will only be publishing Mumbai, Delhi and possibly Pune ratings. These happen to be our biggest markets as a print magazine and we've been tracking institutes here long enough to pronounce judgement with confidence and credibility.
Of course, we're also conducting a physical reccee as well as interviewing students and experts to reach our conclusions.
But the process of data collection for the larger exercise has begun. All those of you who wrote in to me will receive the questionnaire shortly.
However, there are larger issues which we are also debating. For example, the methodology. There are currently two engineering college rankings being published:
1) Dataquest-Nasscom : This survey considered 4 parameters-placement, infrastructure, intellectual capital and industry interface. Recruiter's feedback on the institute is taken into consideration.
The weights were distributed as: Placements (40%), Infrastructure (15%), Intellectual Capital (15%) and Industry Interface (5%). The total weightage assigned to objective data was 75%.
2) India Today: The magazine prepares a master list of 700 colleges in different streams - 400 of which are shorlisted based on perception of 90 experts such as college principals, HoDs and deans across 10 cities. A further shortlist of 210 colleges is prepared based on perceptual scores from 400 experts.
Now, factual information is collected on these 210 colleges on parameters such as placement, infrastructure and faculty to get a factual score. Overall score is given by applying a 70: 30 weightage to perceptual and factual scores.
So essentially, DQ gives 75% weightage to 'factual' data, of which placement is given maximum importance. India Today gives 70% weightage to perception data, so any relatively new college rarely makes it even to the 400 shortlist stage.
A quick comparison of the top 20 Engg Colleges acc. to both rankings
Data quest 2005
1 IIT Kanpur
2 IIT Bombay
3 IIT Madras
4 IIT Kharagpur
6 IIT Guwahati
7 NIT Warangal
8 NIT Trichy
9 TIET, Patiala
11 NIT Suratkal
13 Punjab Engg College
14 IIIT Hyderabad
15 BITS, Pilani
16 IIT Roorkee
17 NIT Rourkela
18 NIT Kurukshetra
19 IIIT Allahabad
20 Delhi College of Engg
India Today 2006
4 IIT Kharagpur
5 IIT Chennai
6 IIT Roorkee
7 Delhi College of Engineering
8 NIT Suratkal
9 IT BHU
10 NIT Warangal
11 IIT Guwahati
12 College of Engineering, Guindy
13 NIT Trichy
14 TIET, Patiala
15 PIET Pune (COEP)
16 UVCE Bangalore
17 BIT Ranchi
18 NIT Jalandhar
19 GND Ludhiana
20 MNIT Allahabad
IIT Delhi did not participate in the Dataquest ranking while BITS Pilani does not feature in India Today rankings because of an ongoing dispute between BITS and India Today.
Offhand, I would say that while both rankings are flawed, India Today's is more flawed. GND Ludhiana comes in at no 19 while Punjab Engineering College Chandigarh does not feature at all. Again, from the little I know, UVCE would not be the top ranked engineering college in Karnataka after NIT Suratkal.
IIIT kya cheez hai India Today is yet to learn...
However, BITS Pilani featuring at no 15 below Thapar Institute and Punjab Engineering College (as per Dataquest) simply boggles the mind also. NSIT may have made huge leaps but surely can't rank at no 10 while DCE comes in at no 20!
Both methods are flawed - so the challenge is to formulate a credible alternative.
How JAM will be different
Firstly, the objective of the JAM Ratings is to guide the students who wish to choose an engineering college. And hence it will aim to cover 250-300 colleges across the country.
In the current pecking order, the student's top choice is an IIT or BITS Pilani.
If not successful, a highly ranked NIT would be the next choice.
Now the question here is would I prefer an NIT Trichy or Suratkal to IIT Guwahati or Roorkee? If so, would that make sense for some particular streams?? Or is the 'IIT is after all IIT' kind of thinking make more sense.
And what about say, DCE. Should a Delhi student opt for DCE over a top ranked NIT? What about NSIT vs NIT. And where does a IIIT Hyderabad figure in all this?
I don't know the answers but that kind of detailing must be reflected in the JAM ratings.
Next, is college more important than branch if all one has in mind ultimately is a software career? Two years ago I did advise that but given that more and more colleges are getting good placements, I think that getting a branch of one's choice in a lesser known but 'decent' college may be advisable. We need some inputs on such issues as well.
And yes, like rankings published by American magazines, a department wise ranking would be our goal.
Thirdly, the real fight is in rating the hundreds of state level government and private colleges. This will be done statewise. Because 85% of the seats are filled by state quota and only 15% by AIEEE score.
So for those of you who've raised questions about using 'peer group' ratings, rest assured this is one of the means of gathering data. Not the only one.
We are considering putting the questionnaire online as well. However, that opens up the possibility of students of particular colleges trying to rig the exercise.
Yet, I want this to be an open source project... ideas on how one can achieve that delicate balance are welcome!