Indian Computer Science (CS) & Information Technology (IT) Academic Reform Activism Consolidated Blog Document

Nature and Science 2011 Articles on Lack of Importance Given to Teaching Nowadays

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Nature and Science 2011 Articles on Lack of Importance Given to Teaching Nowadays

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Here is a Jan. 2011 article, "Scientists Fault Universities as Favoring Research Over Teaching",

It refers an article in Nature, Jan. 2011, "University cuts show science is far from saved",, which states that funds for teaching have been cut in UK universities.

It also refers an article in Science, Jan. 2011, "Changing the Culture of Science Education at Research Universities",, by 13 authors from 11 different US universities including MIT, Harvard and Yale, which states, "The reward systems at research universities heavily weight efforts of many professors toward research at the expense of teaching, particularly in disciplines supported extensively by extramural funding". It suggests seven initiatives for ensuring equal commitment of science faculty to their teaching and research missions.

Articles in Nature and Science, both of which are top scientific journals/publications, raising the lack of importance given to teaching, in 2011, clearly shows that research grant money is corrupting academic teaching ideals in the scientifically advanced Western world. Is India going to follow their path and make the same mistakes? Will young Indian students have to endure mediocre and poor teachers due to excessive importance being given to research in Indian universities? I think there is a serious risk of such things already happening and becoming more commonplace in future.

1 comment:

Ravi S. Iyer, April 19, 2013 at 4:52 PM

I thought some readers may want to know that I sent a mail a few minutes ago with mostly similar content to the above blog post to appropriate Indian government ministers, top academic administrators, some NAAC executive committee members etc.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Suggestion of Separate Tracks for Teaching and Research by US Academics

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Last updated on: 2nd October 2012

Is it time to have two separate tracks for teaching and research in academia (higher education)?

It seems that some faculty in the USA are talking about separation of teaching and research:

1) A tech. view from Georgia Tech., one of the top US research universities in science and technology here:

2) A humanities view from a Columbia University Professor Emeritus, Herbert Gans here:

I could be wrong but I think that really seems to be the future for higher education in these times of economic uncertainty worldwide. The online education movement may push strongly for this separation. 

In the case of CS and IT graduate/post-graduate degrees (e.g. B.Tech., M.Tech.) where, I presume, there is supposed to be substantial focus on teaching software design and development, excellence in teaching these topics should naturally go hand-in-hand with software contributions - if the teacher of these topics does not practice software engineering/development himself/herself how can he/she be an excellent teacher of software engineering? And what better measure of a teacher's excellence in the practice of software development/engineering than his/her software contribution record?

In my references above to software engineering I mean the actual practice of software design and development which includes, as a small part, study of various software development processes. Sometimes the software engineering subject is considered to be limited to study of software development processes which I think is a big mistake. Such limited view of the subject should be called software engineering process(es) and not software engineering.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

India (and Other Emerging/Developing Countries) Should Not Obsess about Higher Education Rankings

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Prof. Altbach,,, wrote an article titled, "The overuse of rankings",, in The Hindu dated March 9th 2013.

[Please note that the CC-BY, Creative Commons Attribution license does not apply to this post.]

In the article Prof. Altbach mentions how top political and other leaders across the world, including India's Prime Minister, give tremendous value to university rankings like the Times Higher Education ranking (officially called World University Rankings),, and the Shanghai ranking (officially called Academic Ranking of World Universities), The article states, "Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently chastised Indian universities for having no institutions in the “top 200” of the global higher education rankings. He sees this poor showing as an indication of the low quality of Indian higher education."

The author of the article digs deeper into the above two rankings. He states that the Shanghai rankings are research based (teaching quality is not measured). The Times Higher education ranking gives research a lot of importance but also tries to factor in teaching quality and internationalization by using "weak proxies" to measure them. The article discusses some more issues related to the rankings.

In its conclusion the author states, "For India, or other developing countries, to obsess about the rankings is a mistake."

There was a response to this article from Mr. Phil Baty, editor, Times Higher Education rankings, "Why this global ranking process matters",, in The Hindu dated April 11, 2013. Mr. Baty warned "it would be a far greater mistake for Indian institutions and policymakers to under-use the global rankings than to overuse them". 

Mr Baty wrote that Times Higher Education ranking (measures) "teaching, research, knowledge transfer and internationalisation". 

Prof. Altbach wrote another article, seemingly in response to Mr. Baty's article, "Ranking obsessions and India’s educational needs",, in The Hindu dated April 16th 2013.

I am so glad to read the articles from Prof. Altbach, a distinguished educator, questioning the relevance of higher education rankings like Times Higher Education rankings or the Shanghai rankings for the vast majority of Indian universities/colleges (typically regulated by UGC/AICTE). While I am nowhere close to being a knowledgeable person on these matters from a country-wide perspective, it seems to me that his assessment that many of these higher educational institutions (of India) "mainly provide supervision of colleges and teaching in selected postgraduate fields, but perform little if any research" is correct. And, IMHO, there is nothing shameful about it! That's the role they are cut out to play, in terms of the finance available to them, the faculty available and the students they cater to. Teaching alone is not shameful but a very respected calling, IMHO.

I particularly liked him noting the "latest eminent person to castigate Indian higher education for its low quality". I think it has become a popular sport for India's top politicians. I would have hated to be in the shoes of the academics who had to listen to such castigation without any chance to respond.

He wrote, "It (India) needs a small number of top-quality, internationally competitive research universities." I guess the elite IITs, IISc, TIFR etc. have government or other funds support and limited teaching load for its faculty, to shoot for these goals.

"And it needs significant improvement in the overall quality of the system, and especially of the colleges." I think teaching quality needs a lot of improvement. BTW here is an interesting article about NPTEL tying up with some corporates (Google, TCS etc.) for its free online learning solutions: They plan to have exams and certification for a fee (the teaching part of the course will be free). That may make it a very interesting option for many young Indians.

I think online education may 'revolutionize' Indian higher education landscape. I feel India is just about ready to get on to the MOOC bandwagon as the Internet has really caught on even in semi-urban India and some parts of rural India as well. If you want to read a short blogpost on why I feel MOOC may revolutionize higher education teaching, which is based on an external link article, you may please visit Napster, mp3 music industry disruption and MOOC

CS & IT Research

My Viewpoints/Articles

Should M.Tech.(CS) Project be CS Research Oriented Or Software Engineering Project Oriented?, April 2013

Discussion/Informative Posts Involving Others' Articles/Views, Media reports and Some Comments from me

Pursuing CS/IT Research Individually - Ph.D. Possibility?, September 2011 

CS & IT: Pure vs. Applied Research, September 2011 

Google's Hybrid Research + Development Model, July 2012

Prof. David Parnas' views on Corruption of (Academic) Computer Science Researchers/Scientists by Publication Counts, April 2013

Oct. 2013 Economist article on Problems with scientific research - How science goes wrong, January 2014

Ground Rules for Sending Scientific Papers for Publication, December 2012 

Grad-Student. What does it really mean?, September 2012

Open Access Journal Scams, September 2012 

Off-Campus PhD Degrees - Assam State Government to reduce pay of teachers with such degrees!, April 2013

UGC seeks details on Ph.D. candidates in state universities, May 2013

Monday, April 29, 2013

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