First of its kind survey on PhD production in Computer Science in India

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Giving an insight into the PhD production in India in Computer Science, a one of its kind survey conducted by Prof Pankaj Jalote, Director of  the Delhi government-created IIIT, has found that many top institutions were facing challenges in attracting good quality students apart from lack of  financial support in terms of fellowships/scholarships and grants for travel to conferences.

In the survey carried out by Prof Jalote for the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), he says that PhD production in India in computer science has been “an issue of concern over the last many years.”

“The purpose of this study is to collect reasonably reliable data on PhD production in Computer Science in India, and then use it to identify useful trends and analyze these trends,” he says.

Top institutions like IITs, NITs (National Institute of Technology), JNU and IIITs were included in the survey as these are viewed as having the ability to produce decent quality PhDs, according to the study.

“We also asked the (concerned) departments of the institutions to provide a list of issues/challenges hampering the PhD program…. The two most common issues were problems in attracting good quality PhD students and lack of financial support in terms of fellowships/scholarships and grants for travel to conferences,”  Prof Jalote says in the survey.

The survey, which estimated that the PhD production in the Academic Year 2011-12 was around 125, says that PhD production is likely to grow gradually to about 225 per year in about 5 years.

On the areas of research prominent among the PhD students in India, it says Theory and Algorithms, Networks, and Information Assurance/Security were the top three choices of PhD students, who completed their PhDs between August 1, 2011 and July 30.

“If we look at the stipend provided during the PhD, the highest was Rs. 25,000, minimum was Rs 14,000, and the average stipend that a PhD student can expect in India is Rs 18,418. The median stipend is Rs 18,000,” the study says.

After completion of their degrees, most of the PhD students choose teaching in India as an employment option, which is followed by a Postdoctoral abroad, it adds.

“As the report indicates, the scenario is not as grim as often believed (commonly a number of about 50 per year was used). However, there is still a lot of ground to be covered, and strong measures are needed, if we were to reach a desired goal of 1000 or even 500 PhDs a year,” according to Prof Jalote.

The study was motivated by The Taulbee Survey in the US, which is conducted each fall since 1974 and is the principal source of information on the enrolment, production, and employment of PhDs in computer science and computer engineering (CS & CE) as also in providing salary and demographic data for faculty in CS & CE in North America.

The full report of the study can be accessed here.