Questions on why Indian institutes do not figure in the top ranks of world rankings like the QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) World University Rankings and the Times Higher Education Rankings have been raised often, but the truth of the matter remains that these systems do not look at parameters which are relevant for India.
IIT-Kanpur and IIT-Madras will be taking the lead in creating a new India-centric ranking system, an IIT Council meeting decided recently. The parameters are being worked upon and should be ready by December this year or latest by March next year. The ranking system will be extended to all UGC and AICTE-funded institutions.
As the Chairman of IIT-Kanpur, Prof M Anandakrishnan puts it, our institutions have a social commitment. “We are aping standards set by somebody else. We need to take prestige in our institutions. An India-centric ranking system will help students choose wisely plus give recognition to them worldwide.”
One of the parameters that rankings like the QS look at are the number of international students. For international students to come to a particular country, many factors are involved like standard of living and superior quality of social structure apart from just the academic institution in question.
“Most of our country’s premier institutions are publicly funded. We cannot extend the same subsidy to international students, and hence, the numbers are less,” points out Prof Sunil Kumar Sarangi, Director of NIT, Rourkela. He also reasons that not figuring in these rankings does not mean Indian institutions are bad.
He also says that QS typically goes to campuses that are large with students ranging from 20,000 to 40,000 in numbers. “For us, 8,000 is a big number. We don’t have campuses that support that kind of strength.”
He also emphasises on an important aspect: because Indian institutions have narrowed down their area of discipline, they have fewer students. “We have broken each discipline into separate institutes like IIIT, IIM, IISc and IIFT as opposed to teaching subjects like Arts, Culture and Horticulture on the same campus. This narrowness is killing our students, as they gain no perception of the world outside their subject.”
He goes on to say that Indian students from premier institutes do not have a holistic experience of life on campus and that they have no idea of other disciplines.
Asked if private varsities can expect to be a part of the rankings Prof Anandakrishnan says, “They have to fulfill the criteria if they want to be a part of it. No one is putting a ban on them. The problem is they are profit-motivated.”
Factors like importance given to research, governance system, family ownership, profit-motivation and commercial aspects need to be checked while ranking private varsities, he says.