Answer by Vishnu Vaidyanathan:
I passed out of NIT Trichy in 2014 and I am currently pursuing my MBA in XLRI Jamshedpur. I believe that the quality of learning is the most important thing that determines the performance of the institute.
The main issue which stops NIT from being a top 3 institute is not the quality of infrastructure, attendance regulations, or the quality of faculty. It is the lack of motivation. From students and some teachers. Learning takes a hit. Students and Alumni will acknowledge this. For others, why I say that lack of motivation is the major issue will be clear as you read along.
To improve this, I would like to suggest some simple systems that need to be put in place. Here at XLRI, every course has an Assurance of Learning Goal which is met by following simple systems. These can be replicated in NIT as well.
1) Make the evaluation more comprehensive and continuous: Presently, the grading system is heavily centralized on two cycle tests and one end term. Students feel that classes are a waste of time because you need to spend only a couple of nights before an exam to score decent grades. Ultimately, a semester long course is learnt in 5 days: 4 days while preparing for the cycle tests and 1 day for the end term. As someone else said, similarities with past years Question Papers also help a lot. To avoid this, term projects, presentations, open ended group assignments should be introduced for a more comprehensive learning. When I had to prepare presentations or submit a term paper initially here, I was amazed at the thoroughness and depth of learning required to complete them. Term projects will also help the students realize new areas of interests and will favor them in internship / higher studies applications.
2) A detailed course agenda outlining session wise plans: There have been cases where teachers have taught semester long courses in only 3 or 4 classes. No one knows what to study. Students are given the exam materials before the exam and cram them the night before the test. Such courses do not offer any learning value and saps the motivation of students. Instead, teachers should declare the session wise agenda for the semester outlining the topics to be covered in every session. This will improve the accountability of teachers and we as students know what to expect and can prepare accordingly.
3) Strict but transparent evaluations: I do not agree with the current system of low pass grades, additional supplementary exams etc that tilt the scales heavily in favor of students. These will actually de incentivize the students particularly those who want to “just pass”. This should change. It is the institute’s duty to ensure that all students take part in the learning process. However, all evaluations should be made available to the student along with the system of evaluation.
4) Training programs for Research/ MTech Scholars:Frankly, I think it is unfair to use a catchall term like “Poor quality of faculty” as a problem. A major chunk of the full time faculty are quite competent and communicate well. As I said before, sometimes it is the lack of motivation from the teacher’s side that make students feel the quality of faculty is not good. Having said that, there is a large scope for improvement for the M.Tech / Research scholars who teach the B.Tech batch. The institute can arrange for training programs to make them better teachers.