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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 207-209

Ranking of higher educational institutions in India – Where did we fail?

1 Department of Biochemistry, JSS Medical College, JSS University, Mysore, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, JSS Medical College, JSS University, Mysore, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication20-Oct-2015

Correspondence Address:
Prashant Vishwanath
Department of Biochemistry, JSS Medical College, JSS University, Mysore, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2278-344X.167651

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How to cite this article:
Vishwanath P, Kumar SD. Ranking of higher educational institutions in India – Where did we fail?. Int J Health Allied Sci 2015;4:207-9

How to cite this URL:
Vishwanath P, Kumar SD. Ranking of higher educational institutions in India – Where did we fail?. Int J Health Allied Sci [serial online] 2015 [cited 2022 Aug 12];4:207-9. Available from: https://www.ijhas.in/text.asp?2015/4/4/207/167651

The failure on behalf of the Indian institutions to get ranked in global rankings is worrisome and has raised many questions regarding the quality of Indian higher educational system. The concern has been very evident with both the Prime Minister and President of India expressing their apprehension regarding no Indian institution being ranked in the most popular Times Higher Education and Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) rankings. It would be wise to look at the situation from the rankers' perspective, the institutions perspective, the governments' perspective, and what needs to be done.

  The Rankers' Perspective Top

The different ranking systems use different parameters for assessment of institutions for ranking of higher educational institutions. These systems also have evolved over a period of time, and the rankers have been suitably modifying their own evaluation processes. Before continuing the discussion further, it would be good to understand the rankings process of the popular ranking systems.

Times higher education considers the following criteria

  • Industry income – Innovation (2.5%)
  • International diversity (5%)
  • Teaching – The learning environment (30%)
  • Research – Volume, income, and reputation (30%)
  • Citations – Research influence (32.5%).

The Quacquarelli Symonds World rankings considers the following criteria

  • Academic peer review (40%)
  • Faculty-student ratio (20%)
  • Citations per faculty (20%)
  • Recruiter review (10%)
  • orientation (10%).

Academic Ranking of World Universities

  • Number of alumni winning Nobel prizes and field medals (10%)
  • Number of staff winning Nobel prizes and field medals (20%)
  • Number of highly cited researchers selected by Thomson scientific (20%)
  • Number of articles published in journals of nature and science (20%)
  • Number of articles indexed in Science Citation Index – Expanded and Social Sciences Citation Index (20%)
  • Number of per capita performance (on the indicators above) with respect to the size of an institution (10%).

Though it is evident from above that some of the ranking systems are not aligned to our country and vice versa, our institutions neither are aligned to the ranking systems, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings appear most relevant to the Indian subcontinent. However, inclined to the Indian system of higher education, the Indian higher educational institutions have never been ranked in top 100 of Times higher educational rankings. It would also be of interest to know that the Oxford University, which has been persistently ranked among the top universities in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, has over 22,000 students whereas the Indian Institute of Science just admits over 200 students/year. The universities with large number of students tend to have an edge in the ranking process over small student population universities. The QS ranking gives 40% weightage to academic reputation for consideration in world ranking and 30% for ranking in the Asia Pacific region where most of the Indian Universities lose out. Though newer personalized ranking systems such as U-multirank have been conceptualized, its outreach has been limited to a few countries only.

  Institutions' Perspective Top

The heads of Indian higher educational institutions have hit back saying that the assessment parameters were irrelevant to the Indian context. Saying so does not relieve them of the burden of failure to get their institutions ranked. The awareness for ranking was low until recently in India and it is only now that we have started looking at the global ranking process. Though many of the institutions do have the potential to be ranked, the awareness, inclination, and motivational factors are lacking. The thrust in India has been to create new institutions rather than adding value to existing institutions and the government has been keener on establishing newer institutions rather than understand the needs of the already established institutions. The institutes of higher learning under the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) face a faculty shortage to an extent of 35% according to data available with Ministry of HRD as on November 25, 2014 (data includes visiting, adjunct, and contract faculty also). Moreover, the government wants to create institutions of excellence on a particular field. Most of the central medical institutions are autonomous and are catering only to medical education. There are no interdisciplinary programs or courses and the IIT's are also focused on technical education with very little space for interdisciplinary approach to education or research. This adversely effects in the ranking process.

The existing frameworks of National Councils or statutory bodies for most of the higher education programs do not allow part time International Faculty on the staff panels. The same also holds good for students in many undergraduate programs. With barely minimum faculty exchange and student exchange permissible, the majority of universities or institution do lose out scoring under the international faculty and international students criteria which sum up to minimum of 5% of the major global rankers criterion.

  The Governments' Perspective Top

The recent budget saw an allocation of Rs. 27,000 crores for higher education. The budget allocation on higher education has seen a steady rise and also the central ministry has strived for establishing institutes of prominence. The thrust on research also has been reinforced from time to time and separate funding institutions have been created to fund research initiatives throughout the country. The government would be keen to know why in spite of such a huge resource allocation the institutes have failed to be ranked at par with international universities. The government in a latest press release also has mooted the idea of having its own ranking systems, and the HRD ministry has unveiled afirst-of-its-kind indigenous ranking framework for higher education institutions, in response to global rankings in which Indian universities and colleges usually do not fare too well.

  What Needs to Be Done – the Way Ahead… Top

It cannot be a blame game and we have to understand the hindering factors and taking corrective action along with transparency and accountability, which is the need of the hour. The major hindering factors which we understand that are preventing Indian institutions from being ranked in global rankings are:

  1. Lack of motivated faculty
  2. Lack of world class infrastructure
  3. Lack of financial strength
  4. Absence of alumni support
  5. Absence of a culture of blended teaching-learning and research
  6. No scope for self-reliance and self-governance
  7. Use of ICT to its maximum potential.

Just overcoming barriers would not be the total solution. It also needs an understanding of the ranking process and moving ahead toward providing the necessary information to the rankers is also essential. The success story of Punjab University being ranked ahead of the IIT's in the Times rankings makes us to believe that it is not impossible for Indian universities to be ranked, it is only the movement in the right direction and the fact that if the university takes the ranking seriously and provides sufficient information, it could get a reasonably good rank which will lead to more number of institutions in the ranking list.

In addition, it has to be realized that the global rankings rely heavily on perception or subjective factors and one of them being academic reputation which in turn is largely affected by the number of students. Hence, it would be practical to focus on creating infrastructure and facilities in the existing universities rather than creation of new institutes.

The government also needs to look into the existing frameworks and the freedom it allows for institutions to adapt to newer challenges. Have a rigid framework mars the freedom of institutions and universities to develop and progress. Every institution is unique and the uniqueness needs to be promoted and highlighted. The government had set up a number of committees to study and suggest changes in the higher educational policy and many like the Professor Yash Pal headed committee have suggested reasonable and suitable changes for the renovation and rejuvenation of higher education system in India which was never implemented. The futile exercise of setting up committees and not implementing the recommendations has paid the price as visible in the global ranking list. It is high time to wake up and we should realize that rather than creation of our own ranking system, we should be making efforts to rise up to the standards of the global ranking systems which will bring more reputation instead of creating a cozy environment, wherein our higher educational institutions will fail to compete with global educationists.

With the existing systems also, we will sooner or later achieve global standards and rankings, but ensuring efforts in a proper direction in education and research will sooner than later help us achieve global standards.


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