Birla Institute of Technology and Science

Pilani, Rajasthan



Section 1: Preamble


The Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, is an all-India Institute for higher education deemed to be a University. It is privately supported, fully residential and admits both men and women students. It was started as a school in 1901, became an intermediate college in 1929, a degree college in 1943 and a deemed University in 1964. The University is situated in a 328 acres campus, about 200 kilometers from New Delhi.


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.


Section 2: Criterion-wise Analysis


Criterion I: Curricular Aspects

The Institute offers a basic undergraduate programme in engineering and science disciplines with a provision to integrate master’s degree and dual degree in science and engineering. The curriculum is structured to provide enough flexibility to switch any of the programmes. Beside the basic courses (Core) to be taken by a student to get a degree in the discipline of his/her choice, variety of electives are offered during later semesters. A team of teachers drawn from different departments teaches the core courses common to several branches of engineering and science and conducts common quizzes and common comprehensive examinations. Subjects, which fall within the purview of a single department, are taught by that department only.


For every course there is a prescribed text book which is followed by the instructor. Sufficient copies of the book are made available in the local bookstores. The course allotment is controlled centrally by the Dean of Instructions. The Heads of Departments (called group leaders) play an advisory role.


The curriculum and other related academic information is communicated through the University Handbook. 300 courses are being offered to 3187 students per semester. On an average every faculty member teaches 2 to 3 courses each semester.


For a 4-year undergraduate degree, a student is expected to take a total of 43 courses covering core courses in science, mathematics, technical arts, engineering sciences and humanities besides 5-9 electives. Practice School or thesis and seminar are compulsory. A Senate sub-committee called Academic Regulations Committee plans the semester-wise pattern of completing the programme.


The requirement for the Master’s degree is a minimum of 50 credits to be earned. 25 credits can be earned by course work and the balance through practice school or dissertation.


For a Ph.D. degree the possible courses to be taken are prescribed in the Academic Regulations. Further, a qualifying examination would also be conducted based on these courses. A Ph.D. student is to give a seminar before the submission of the thesis. The thesis carries 40 credits. A Doctoral Counselling Committee monitors the progress of a Ph.D. student.


One other area of instruction is the running of user oriented programmes at the Bachelors’ and Masters’ levels through distance education. Areas like power engineering, software engineering, nautical sciences, optometry, project engineering, chemical technology, medical laboratory technology, microelectronics are unique and first of their kind, imparted through this mode of education.


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.


The Dean of Instruction organises the teaching-learning activities by combining resources from various faculties and also using visiting faculty. He also oversees all evaluations, tests and the processing of results. The process of making timetable, scheduling examinations and recording the results is all computerised. A variety of teaching aids are available to the faculty, like audio visual instruments (overhead projectors, movie film projectors, video tape recorders, some of which are computer driven). The faculty develops the material for these audio-visual aids.



Computer based instruction programmes for some courses are also available to students. The Institute has introduced modern ways of engineering design and manufacturing (CAD-CAM). However, the hard core traditional practices need to be sustained. The use of computers is admirable but should be tempered with the retention of traditional practices.


A highlight at BITS is the Practice School. Through this programme students get hands-on training in real life situations. Students are placed with various industries, companies and institutions across India and abroad, ranging across a wide variety of activities. Students studying for a first degree spend their summer of two months duration, after four semesters, in the PS-I programme. Students for a higher degree spend one semester of six months duration in this programme termed PS-II. A student’s aptitude, choice, ability is carefully matched with the situation offered by the Practice School station. The activity of the student with a given host organisation is monitored by a mentor either from the organisation or by a member of the staff of the Institute. This programme has been highly successful as evidenced by the statements from the students and industries. Many students find employment through this process.


The Evaluation process of the students is thorough. The students have periodic tests, quizzes and seminars. Letter grades are given on the basis of performance. A cumulative grade point average (CGPA) for all the courses is worked out based on the grades of all the tests and quizzes. Students are allowed to ask for a review of the grades either from the teacher or, if not satisfied, appeal to the Examination Committee. The Examination Committee monitors performance by the students, their advance and possible remedies.  Success of the evaluation process and the close contact between students and teachers is indicated by the miniscule drop out rate.


The performance of teachers is evaluated by feedback from students (which is obtained by marking by students on sheets given), and by getting self-evaluation reports. This material is examined and suggestions are made to the teacher, apart from using it for promotion and renewal of the contract. The vast amount of data on student course activities is computerised so that at any given time, the performance of a student can be seen either by himself, or the teacher or the administrator.


The Institute encourages technical staff to get advanced training by offering various Diploma/Certificate courses. These include programmes in Computer Applications, Instrument Servicing and Maintenance and Workshop Technology.


All in all the teaching system is a group of dedicated individuals delivering the goods in a very efficient fashion to produce well-educated students.


Criterion III: Research, Consultancy and Extension

Research work at BITS, Pilani is through the Master’s and Ph.D. programmes and through the sponsored projects funded by outside agencies. The output is reported through publications in national and international conferences and journal publications. Faculty development of the Institute is facilitated by allowing the Master’s degree holders to do Ph.D. Regular Ph.D. students get scholarships through UGC and CSIR. Besides these, deserving students get tuition and admission fee waiver. Opportunities also are given to faculty members to carry out research at a centre outside BITS in India or abroad. Currently institutional arrangements exist with CDRI, Lucknow; ITRC, Lucknow; USUHS, Bethesda, Maryland.


Off-campus Ph.D. under Ph.D. aspirants’ scheme has been popular. Organisations like NPL, New Delhi; CEERI, Pilani; SPIC, Chennai; INSDOC, New Delhi; Institute of Pathology, ICMR, New Delhi and ITRC, Lucknow provide such opportunities. A few of the current areas of research are biotechnology, image processing, drug design, renewable energy, fibre optic sensors, microelectronics, robotics, software development and water resource management.


The total number of Ph.D. degrees awarded during the period 1965-98 is 327 out of which 117 are in engineering and the rest in other disciplines. List of research publications for the last three years contain 149 titles. Out of them 39 have been reported in international journals and 38 in national journals. The rest of them are in conferences. It is to be observed that during the last three years the faculty strength has been 248. Out of the 248 faculty members 150 are at the level of Assistant Professors and above. During the last three years 63 Ph.Ds have been awarded. However, the publications reported in Journals (National and International)  appear to be small, which could be further improved.


Referring to the Industry-Institute interaction, the success achieved in Practice Schools is commendable. It is heartening to note that 98 organisations all over the country have participated in this exercise this year. Around 600 undergraduates have been benefited. Distribution of participating industries in sectors like banking, software industries, manufacturing industries, chemical industries, national research laboratories and public works is impressive. Effort put in coordinating these activities by the faculty members is commendable. It would have been really nice, if arising out of this exchange, faculty members would have got consultancy assignments or publications with joint authorship. It is also of concern that with a vast amount of developmental work going on at the Institute, no patents are taken so far.


On the whole industry-institution interaction has been impressive. It is suggested that young faculty below the age of 35 should present their output before national bodies for awards. This would, in the long, encourage the majority of the faculty members to strive for excellence.


Criterion IV: Infrastructure and Learning Resources

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.


Criterion V:  Student Support and Progression

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. 


Criterion VI: Organisation and Management

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.


Criterion VII: Healthy Practices

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.


Section 3: Overall Analysis


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.