The university invited the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), Bangalore to assess them and submitted the Self-study Report in August 1999. NAAC constituted a Peer Team to visit the University and validate the self-study report. The team comprised Prof. T. Navaneeth Rao (Chairman), former Vice-Chancellor of Osmania University; Dr.V.Ramamurti (Member), Professor of Applied Mechanics, Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai; Dr.K.M.V.Appa Rao (Member), INSA Senior Scientist, University of Bombay; and Dr.Shankar R. Gowariker (Member), Director of Tolani Education Foundation, Pune. The team visited the BITS for three days during 20-22 October, 1999, both days inclusive. Prof. A. Gnanam, Chairman of NAAC was with the team. Dr.Antony Stella, Deputy Adviser of NAAC co-ordinated the visit.
The Institute is headed by the Director assisted by two Deputy Directors and 12 Deans and 7 unit chiefs, co-ordinating all the functional activities of the university. The Institute offers educational programmes at 3-tiers viz. Ph.D., Masters degree Programmes and first degree programmes in 17 disciplines on campus and also programmes relevant to off-campus industry needs as distance learning and collaborative programmes. There are 3187 students, 248 teaching staff and 353 non-teaching staff in the campus. The Institute also has 193 adjunct faculty and 3684 students off-campus.
The Peer Team carefully perused and analysed the self-study report by the university. During the institutional visit, the team went through all relevant documents, visited the units, saw the facilities and interacted with various constituents of the Institute. The academic, co-curricular, extra-curricular, sports and extension facilities of the institution were visited. The Peer Team interacted with the Director, senior officials, faculty, staff, students, parents and alumni. Based on the above exercise and keeping in mind the seven criteria identified by NAAC, the Peer Team has given its assessment of the institution. The assessment of the institution under various criteria, the commendable features of the institution as well as the issues of concern are given in the ensuing pages.
BITS has a very strong teaching organisation. Students, after they are admitted, are attached to a Counsellor who evaluates the students’ needs and recommends courses. These courses will include remedial courses, if needed, as well as new courses.
Criterion II: Teaching-learning and Evaluation
The highlight of BITS teaching is that a student is allowed a wide choice of courses as well as a choice of instructor. The student is offered flexibility in the sense that he can join either semester, can work for a dual degree, transfer within the same tier or from the first degree to a higher degree.
Criterion III: Research, Consultancy and Extension
BITS campus is very well planned and is spread over 328 acres of land. The main building of the Institute houses administrative offices, main library, lecture halls, seminar halls, auditorium and laboratories. The total area available in the main building is 513000 sq. feet. Adjoining the main building are Workshop and Civil Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Computer Centre, Language and Humanities departments and other activities. There are all together 23 administrative offices and 48 classrooms. The time table is framed in such a manner that the Institute takes optimum use of classroom facilities with extended working hours.
The campus provides 100% residential facilities to students, faculty and supporting staff. For the students there are 12 hostels, out of which one is reserved for girl students. There are 261 houses for the faculty and 187 houses for the non-teaching staff. Some more houses are being constructed for the faculty and the staff. There are enough play grounds on the campus. In addition, there are a filtered-water swimming pool, a health club, a sports complex etc. The Institute has three guest houses, a well equipped medical centre with two ambulances, a faculty club, a canteen etc. In spite of scarcity of water, the Institute manages to have sprawling lawns and plenty of trees and gardens. The Institute has a massive programme of tree plantation and maintains a botanical garden in the campus.
The campus has well laid roads. The Saraswathi Temple constructed in marble adds to the beauty of the campus. The campus has statues of important leaders of the country like Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr. Rajendra Prasad and others. In addition to this, the Birla Science Museum along with Shri G.D. Birla Memorial certainly adds to the prestige of the campus.
The campus is very well maintained. The general maintenance of roads and buildings appears to be satisfactory. Maintenance is looked after by the faculty of the Institute. Acoustic treatment of all the lecture halls has been done. With public address systems and overhead projections, the lecture halls and seminar halls have a modern touch. The furniture, like chairs and tables in lecture halls and computer centre, is maintained departmentally by the workshop. Even new items of furniture are fabricated in the Institute workshop. Continuous updating of hostel and mess facilities is done. Recently, the Institute has installed a solar water heater system in all the hostels providing students with hot water and a parabolic solar cooker is used in the mess and the guest house.
The main library has over 2,00,000 volumes and subscribes for 500 periodicals. The library is interconnected with other libraries for information at the national level. Facilities at the library are lending, reference services, current awareness services, photocopying, inter library loan, INFLIBNET, satellite library facilities to students and faculty at Practice School stations, monthly list of new books added to the library, new books displayed, INSDOC document supply etc. The library operates from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on week days and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays’ and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays and other holidays. Library provides e-mail facility to all faculty and students. Internet browsing facility is also available at the library.
The Institute has gone about in a major way, updating their computer facilities. The computer centre is built around two servers one is Proliant 5000 with two Pentium Pro 166 MHz CPU, 10 GB Hard disk, 256 MB RAM and 4/8 GB DAT and other Infinity super server with 4 Pentium pro 200 MHz CPU, 256 MB RAM, 10 GB Hard disk, 4/8 GB DAT. More than 170 Pentium machines are connected to the two serves which can be operated both on the UNIX as well as NT Windows platforms. The Institute has provided adequate computing facilities to all the students, faculty and the staff in a cost effective manner. The entire administration, accounts and academic activities and the admission process are all computerised. Maintenance of computers is effectively carried out by in-house staff. Lot of software packages are developed by the students and faculty of the Institute.
Both plants and machineries in the traditional laboratories appear to be old and needs proper maintenance. However, the Institute has acquired modern equipments in many of their new laboratories such as Robotics Lab., Central Analytical Laboratory, Embedded Controller Application Centre, Instrumentation laboratory, Pharmacy laboratories, CNC training centre etc. On the whole, the Institute has fairly adequate laboratory facilities. Additionally, the Practice School provides excellent opportunities for students to carry out practical work at various industries and R&D laboratories.
The Institute provides excellent health services at its medical centre, where a doctor is available on a 24 hour basis for any emergency. Health checkup is compulsory for students at the time of admission. The health centre provides facilities such as laboratory investigations, physiotherapy and dental care. The Health Club provides all modern amenities. The Institute also has a gymnasium with facilities for football, hockey, cricket, basketball, volleyball, tennis, badminton, table tennis, athletics, gymnastics, etc.
The Institute is fully residential and hostel accommodation is provided to all students. Different types of accommodation like single seated and double seated, are provided in various hostels. There is a common kitchen and mess unit for every set of two hostels. The messes are fully managed by students. The hostel rooms are fully furnished. Cable TV and telephone are available in the common rooms of all the hostels. On the whole, infrastructure and learning resources are fairly satisfactory.
The Institute publishes prospectus every year during the month of May. The admission process is highly streamlined and admissions are given only on the basis of merit. The Institute admits students from all over the country and the cut-off percentage is minimum 96% (normalised) for the students who have passed 10+2 examinations. The entire process is transparent. The dropout rate is around 1.5% and this too within the first two months only. There is no dropout thereafter. The pass percentage after the minimum period of study is 100%. The Institute offers merit scholarships (100% tuition fee) to top 10 students each semester, additionally merit-cum-need (50% and 25% tuition fee) for 10% students in each category. Scholarships are given during each year of admission. Other financial aids are available to students. Institute Placement Officer arranges for campus interviews. Last year nearly 300 to 400 students got employment through placement services. The Institute has a fairly active alumni association with its chapters located at different cities in India and abroad. Students while studying at the Institute are provided with career counselling.
BITS, being a Deemed-to-be-University, has the statutory bodies like Board of Governors, General Body, Senate, Finance Committee, Selection Committee and Buildings and Works Committee for the management of the institution. For the smooth and speedy actions to be taken in various fields, sub-committees are constituted. These committees are, Academic Counselling Committee, Examination Committee, Research Board, Library Committee, Academic Monitoring Board, Doctoral Counselling Committee and Higher Degree Counselling Committee.
The organisational structure of the Institute is functional rather than departmental. The Director of the Institute constantly monitors the progress reports submitted by the faculty through their heads and the confidential reports of the non-teaching staff submitted through their controlling officers. The Director constantly monitors the reports submitted by various Divisions and tries to take steps wherever necessary to improve work efficiency. A separate committee prepares the academic calendar which is followed meticulously from the time of admissions to that of examinations without any deviation. The academic calendar is published one month before the start of the academic year. There is a foreign students office which provides supportive services like welfare programmes, cultural activities and orientation programmes. Special training is given to administrative staff of the Institute for improving their work efficiency. They are also permitted to register for degree programmes in the Institute. There are various staff development programmes offered to enable the staff to function efficiently. There are rewards for excellence in administration and promotions are given out of turn on the basis of efficiency in the assigned work. The ratio of faculty to supporting staff is close to 1:1, which speaks for the efficiency of the administrative system. All administrative and financial activities are completely computerised. To a great extent the administrative and financial powers are decentralised to avoid administrative red tape. With these organisational structures and the dedicated and committed staff and faculty headed by a dynamic Director the Institute is functioning excellently.
Besides the revenue collected by way of tuition fees, endowment corps, contributions from companies and alumini, the Institute is in a position to augment its resources further through its off-campus academic programmes. Particular mention should be made of NTPC which contributes substantial amounts.
The healthy practices at the Institute include (i) Modular Curricula and Flexibility (ii) Integrated Science and Technology programmes, (iii) Continuous Counselling. The linkage of BITS to Industry is very strong. This is provided by (i) Practice School Programme (ii) Consultancy (iii) Individual projects requested and financed by companies. In the Practice School programme students are placed with Industries for a semester where they execute a programme assigned by companies. About 500 organisations have participated in the programme over the years. A wide variety of consultancy is provided by BITS in Engineering, Computer Software and Bio-technology. Several projects are undertaken in collaboration with Industrial concerns within India and abroad in Engineering and Computer Software, the most notable of which is the collaboration with IBM of USA and Motorola. The Institute also facilitates recruitment and placement by allowing industries to conduct interviews of senior students on the campus.
The Distance Learning Programme is an innovation. The programme is devised to allow employees of institutions in India to further their education and skills and obtain a Diploma or Degree. The masters programmes M.S. and M.Phil. are devised towards this end. Course syllabi are made up and instruction is offered both on the campus and at some other locations. The diverse nature of these courses is due to evolving of the programmes based on need. The ‘Virtual University’ is computer based and courses are developed to allow the student to use the material when and where he/she chooses. Discussion with and questions to the instructor is possible via the internet and also discussion among the students is facilitated. Evaluation is also done. All this is possible through the internet so that student can take these courses at his/her work place/home. Interestingly, these computerised courses are available also to students on the campus via the BITS intranet and is resulting in useful discussions.
Computer usage is extensive in all activities of the campus. Several servers and diskless nodes are used to connect individual Pentium computers. Students and faculty have access to email and internet. Most of the data on admission, course allocations, time-tables, course evaluations, grades, practice school activity is computerised. Administrative activities such as accounting, purchase, leave etc. are also computerised allowing swift execution of the requisite function and also instant availability of the information to all the administrators through intranet. Most of the software needed for all this activity was developed by students and faculty.
New centres have been established at BITS recently; Centre for Renewable Energy and Environmental Development, Embedded Controller Application Centre, Centre for Instructional Software and Centre for Robotics and Artificial Intelligence are some of the examples. BITS, thus demonstrates the awareness of current needs of society and creates programmes to suit the needs.
Students at BITS are offered a wide range of sports facilities which are taken advantage by them. Many individual and team competitions are held to sustain the sports activity. Faculty and other staff members are encouraged to use the facilities. Cultural activities like music groups, literature groups, dance groups exist on the campus.
The student union is active in promoting student welfare and is represented in the Senate, Academic Council and Standing Committee for Student Discipline.
The members of the Peer Team have gone through the self-study reports, departmental profiles, annual reports (1996, 1997 and 1998) and all the related relevant documents furnished by the Institute. The Peer Team visited all the departments, laboratories, library, physical facilities, central facilities, sports and other facilities available on the campus. The members met separately with the Director, senior administrative staff, faculty members, supporting staff, student union representatives and other functionaries of the Institute to elicit information. The Peer Team commends the Institution for the following aspects:
1. Providing an integrated masters degree and dual degree in science and engineering.
2. Provision of number of electives at the undergraduate level.
3. Off-campus user oriented programmes in specialised areas in bachelor and master’s degrees.
4. Practice Schools in industries and other organisations for undergraduate students.
5. Off-campus Ph.D. under “Ph.D. aspirants' scheme”.
6. Continuous evaluation of the students by internal assessment.
7. Teacher evaluation by the students during the semester.
8. Establishment of Virtual University through the computer links.
9. Non existence of problems among the faculty, staff and students ensuring a congenial atmosphere.
The students are motivated and faculty and staff are dedicated to their work. Together the faculty, staff and students are working to bring excellence in their chosen activities and creating a congenial academic atmosphere on the campus. However, the Institute should pay attention to the following aspects:
1. Research output should be enhanced and get reflected in the form of publications in refereed and prestigious journals.
2. The collaborative schemes with industry which currently emphasize human resource development and training should also fructify in the form of patents and awards.
The Birla Institute of Technology and Science is providing excellent higher education. It pursues a liberal and forward looking policy with a vision to innovate for providing quality education. The Peer Team wishes the Institute all success in its endeavours.