"There's not much difference over can the last few years in the ranking of JEE Advanced and the choice of the institutes by the students," said Adrijit Goswami, chairman of the Joint Entrance Examination (Advanced) at the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur. Some directors feel the newer institutes, which started in 2008 or later, still have a long way to go before they can be compared with the older IITs. "They will take at least four to five years to be able to compete with the old IITs," said Pradipta Banerji, director of IIT Roorkee. However, he added that the students' preference was clearly driven by coaching institutes.
"These ranks are not a fair measure to judge the popularity of any IIT," Banerji said. Among the top 2,000 rank holders, 29 students have opted for five new IITs. The remaining five IITs attracted none. After IIT Hyderabad, the institute at Indore is the most popular with 15 of the top 2,000 rank holders, while IIT Ropar got 11 and those at Mandi and Gandhinagar and the Indian School of Mines Dhanbad got one each.
According to Manindra Agrawal, IIT Kanpur's dean of faculty affairs, students prefer to go with the NITs rather than any new IIT because of the faculty, infrastructure and better track record of placements.
"The new IITs need more time for anyone to judge them. Institutes take decades and even centuries to become globally established," said IIT Ropar director Sarit K Das.
The popularity of the course at IIT Ropar is reflected in the opening ranks of the open category' for the second round of counselling. However, a clearer picture will emerge only after the third and final counselling on July 18.
"In case of computer science, IIT Ropar has stood out among the new institutes so far, except for the one in Hyderabad. There could be some shuffling of students based on their preference in the third counselling," said professor P K Raina, dean, academic affairs and research.
"Apart from BTech, the department also offers PhD programme in computer science and engineering. It has taken up the challenge to attract world class faculty in all areas of the subject.
"The objective is to continue building on the initial momentum and to attract the best students and the faculty over the coming years," added a senior faculty member.
IIT Ropar is one of the eight new IITs set up by the Union ministry of human resource development (HRD) in 2008 to expand the reach and enhance the quality of technical education in the country.
The other new institutes are IIT Mandi (Himachal Pradesh), IIT Jodhpur (Rajasthan), IIT Gandhinagar (Gujarat), IIT Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh), IIT Indore (Madhya Pradesh), IIT Bhubaneswar (Odisha) and IIT Patna (Bihar).
Despite facing acute space constraints, IIT Ropar offers BTech in computer science and engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering.
The programmes are spread over a period of eight semesters and the institute admits 40 students in each branch, selected through IIT joint entrance examination (JEE) conducted every year. In addition, the institute now offers doctoral programme in several disciplines.