The Pan-IIT Project



    Part 2: The Academic Potpourri

After a look at the demographics across IITs, we present to you a glimpse into some of the academic initiatives and programmes undertaken by IIT Delhi, IIT Bombay, IIT Madras and IIT Kharagpur. These are not limited to students alone, but also talk about initiatives formulated keeping the faculty and industrial professionals in mind. Being institutes of technical reputation and national importance, the IIT curriculum offers several core, elective and offbeat courses, thus creating a huge variety of baskets to choose from. We take a comprehensive look at the same for the four IITs.

Let us begin with a statistic that provides a deep insight into the flexibility and interdisciplinary component of an institute’s curriculum.

There is hardly a difference in the number of minor degrees and/or departmental specializations being offered by all the IITs. This is primarily because of the fact that departments that may not offer undergraduate courses, eg. Atmospheric Sciences, almost always tend to offer an option to pursue a minor degree in that area.

How the Academic Options and Initiatives Stack Up

IIT Delhi :

  • IIT Delhi is the only ‘old IIT’ to adopt a 3 – examination model in which two sets of Minor Examinations followed by the Majors are implemented.
  • In Aug’17, IIT Delhi approved the School of Interdisciplinary Research (SIRe) and creation of a new “Department of Design”. These two new academic entities are expected to start their operations in 2018-19.
  • IIT Delhi offers 8 GIAN courses from various departments, arranging for guest lecture-based courses by internationally renowned experts. These courses span across fields ranging from Robot Motion Planning and Topological Insulators and Superconductors, to Bioreaction engineering and the Critical Philosophy of Race. The duration of these courses is usually not more than a couple of weeks.
  • IIT Delhi is the only IIT with a dedicated National Resource Centre for Value Education in Engineering (NRCVEE). It offers 1-credit special modules on Human Values and Technology, and Traditional Knowledge Systems.
  • IIT Delhi is in charge of the project IIT PAL, collaborating with the older IITs, including IIT Mumbai, Kanpur, Chennai, Kharagpur and Guwahati in its teaching arena. Till date, IIT Delhi has recorded over 600 hours of video content that are available on the Swayam Prabha DTH channels and YouTube. While currently the recorded lectures are only in English, plans are afoot to take it to many other languages including Hindi.
  • Under a new Academic Welfare Scheme introduced by the Institute this year for weak students, a special student advisor is identified in each department for students who need special help, at the beginning of each semester.

IIT Madras :

  • IIT Madras has sixteen academic departments and advanced research centers assigned in various disciplines of engineering and pure science, offering 1767 courses to those enrolled as undergraduates and postgraduates.
  • Undergraduate students of all disciplines have recently been offered an upgradation to an M.Tech. degree in the emerging interdisciplinary areas of Data Sciences, Biomedical Engineering, Computational Engineering, Energy Systems and Materials & Nanotechnology.
  • IIT Madras offers both a 3-year and an integrated 5-year postgraduate programme, something that IIT Delhi doesn’t offer.
  • In a first of its kind initiative, the institute plans to literally take learning beyond classrooms. M.Tech through remote learning is soon to be introduced, offering courses in Automotive Technology, Communication Systems Engineering, Mathematical methods for aerospace engineers, VLSI Circuit Design and Industrial Metallurgy, among others.
  • The Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) courses are research oriented, specialized and shorter courses (1 or 2 weeks). 27 credits can be completed by taking online courses under the (GIAN) or (NPTEL) at IITM. In the last year, 85 GIAN courses have been conducted at IIT Madras with 2,289 participants.
  • The National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) coordinated by IIT Madras provides the world’s largest free-to-access repository of high-quality courses in engineering and science with more than 1,200 courses in engineering, science and technology. NPTEL, under the massive open online courses (MOOCs), offered 234 courses last year, with a student enrollment of over 9 lakh.

IIT Bombay :

  • IIT Bombay also offers an integrated 5-year PG programme to incentivise students to take up PhDs in Research-based areas.
  • Last year, a four-year Bachelor of Science program in Economics has been started with admission through the JEE (Advanced) for its 26 seats. It is the only among these four to offer a Science degree in a field largely classified under Humanities.
  • Another new initiative is the offering of an interdisciplinary dual-degree program (BTech in one department and MTech in another) to the undergraduate students of this Institute. IIT Delhi already offers this option to its students.
  • IIT Bombay offers students and opportunity to pursue Minor Courses in other disciplines or Honor Courses in their own discipline. These are not counted in the CPI and are allocated CGPA wise. This feature of their credit system is different from what is prevalent at IIT Delhi.

  • Centre for Distance Engineering Education Programme (CDEEP) has taken a leap in reaching out to more institutions/ organisations in India and abroad. During the year, CDEEP recorded and transmitted 25 courses, covering 11 disciplines at IIT Bombay. It now has an archive of 347 full semester long courses.
  • Last year, 327 students were granted financial assistance for attending international conferences and an amount of Rs. 3,23,02,122 was utilised for this purpose.
  • The Continuing Education Programme & Quality Improvement Programme (CE & QIP) office at IIT Bombay took up the role of national coordinatorship for the QIP for the last 2 years. All the QIP admissions across the country were successfully co-ordinated by the office. Many of IIT Bombay’s CEP courses for the industry are now well established worldwide and continue to attract large participation, both from within as well as from abroad. The courses on “3D Printing”, “Urban Drainage Management”, “Human Computer Interaction”, “Energy Management”, and “Elements of Chemical Engineering” are quite popular among the working professionals out there.

IIT Kharagpur :

  • IIT Kharagpur offers maximum number of opportunities for students to pursue undergraduate studies through JEE Advanced. Architecture and Regional Planning, Agricultural and Food Engineering, and Geology and Geophysics. 
  • The academic curriculum mandates field Trips for Mining Engineering, Geology and Exploration Geophysics programs.
  • Students have an option of Interdisciplinary Dual Degree where they forego open electives in place of the corresponding subjects of Financial Engineering or Engineering Entrepreneurship.
  • They have introduced flexible curricula and international programs eg. close to 100 international faculty visits under GIAN.
  • Keeping in mind the importance of in-bound International Faculty members’ and students’ visits in improving the global ranking of IITKGP, the institute has increased its efforts to maximize the flow of International Visitors in IITKGP. In that connection, Shri Gopal Rajgarhia International Program (SGRIP) was implemented under which ~ 29 International Visitors including faculty members and research scholars have received funding and are expected to visit and work at IITKGP.

Foreign Exchange Options

In terms of Foreign Exchange Options for Undergraduate Students, IIT Bombay is, without a shred of a doubt, the most adept institution out of this quartet.

France, Canada and Taiwan are the most common countries in terms of universities tied up with IITs for Foreign Exchange Programmes. Brazil, Israel, Iran, Peru and Spain are some countries exclusively available to IIT Bombay students for their Forex opportunities. Even though, the number of universities who have collaborated with IIT Bombay for semester exchanges is outrageously high, students usually only opt to go to 16-17 of them, the most common destinations being Denmark, Finland and Singapore.

Semester Away Program (SAP) of IIT Kharagpur is the youngest among these IITs having been launched not more than  a year and half back. It provides students with the unique opportunity of studying in any university of his choice whether in India or abroad for a semester or two and currently has around 8 options available to students. 

Executive Development Programmes

It appears that IIT Bombay does not focus a great deal on its Executive Development Programmes, a feature of Continuing Education programme (CEP) meant to offer short term courses to various organizations and industry workers. With only four programmes over the last three years, their earnings have been merely ⅓ rd of IIT Delhi’s earnings of Rs. 11.5 crores across 261 Executive Development Programmes. A surprising finding, however, is that the number of participants in IITB’s EDPs, across this time span, are even leaner (3%) when compared to IIT Delhi.

Per capita earnings from EDP’s in last three years   

This highlights a clear disparity in the earning per participant for both the IITs. Another unexpected finding is that over the past three years, IIT Madras has had higher earnings from the EDPs as compared to IIT Delhi, but their number of programmes and participants are a mere 7% and 11% respectively of IIT Delhi’s corresponding numbers. IIT Kharagpur organises only one Executive Development Programme annually with earnings from it averaging at Rs. 1.95 crores. A continuous fall in both participation and earnings from EDP’s has been observed here. IIT Delhi appears to be the only one whose earnings have been increasing at a considerable rate every year. Clearly, the EDPs in all the four IITs serve a common purpose, but are implemented through different strategies and at different scales.



It can be clearly seen that even though the number of overlapping or collective initiatives across these IITs is considerable, there are marked differences in their implementation, acceptance and structuring. With the advent of MOOCs, specialised courses by guest lecturers and academic programmes tailored for the industry, the IITs surely seem to be working hard to keep pace with the changing world. And that is a good thing for all of us.

Disclaimer: The statistics used in this article have to been taken from NIRF 2018 reports, IIT official websites and Annual Reports for 2016-17. We do not claim that our list of initiatives is exhaustive or superlative to any other IIT report.
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