Var­si­ties to be ranked for over­all and dis­ci­pline-spe­cific excellence

NIRF 2017 HRD min­istry’s rank­ing frame­work for this year will have greater thrust on qual­ity pa­ram­e­ters in re­search

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - HT Education - - Front Page - Gauri Kohli Gauri Kohli HT Ed­u­ca­tion Cor­re­spon­dent

The Na­tional In­sti­tu­tional Rank­ing Frame­work (NIRF) – In­dia’s own top univer­sity rank­ings, launched last year by the HRDmin­istry will have unique fea­tures this year. In­sti­tutes will be con­sid­ered el­i­gi­ble for rank­ing on the ba­sis of over­all and dis­ci­pline-spe­cific excellence.

All data pre­sented for checks for rank­ings by the univer­si­ties will have to be pub­lished. Pro­fes­sor Suren­dra Prasad, part of the core com­mit­tee de­vel­op­ing this frame­work, says, “For the smaller in­sti­tutes, NIRF will have just a dis­ci­pline-spe­cific rank. Univer­si­ties will also have to pub­lish all data which the gen­eral pub­lic and stake­hold­ers can view. This, we hope will re­duce the pos­si­bil­i­ties of mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion.”

In 2016, the pa­ram­e­ters for se­lec­tion were broadly di­vided into five cat­e­gories – re­sources for teach­ing and learn­ing, re­search and col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort, grad­u­a­tion out­come, out­reach and in­clu­siv­ity and peer and stake­holder per­cep­tion. Nearly 20 pa­ram­e­ters were iden­ti­fied over these five heads.

There will also be a greater thrust on qual­ity pa­ram­e­ters in re­search (be­yond vol­ume of re­search and sim­ple mea­sures of qual­ity). “There will be greater ob­jec­tiv­ity through ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion of pa­ram­e­ters to elim­i­nate those that are ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to au­then­ti­cate on such a large scale. It will be eas­ier for in­sti­tu­tions to en­ter the nec­es­sary data for eval­u­a­tion. The data­base of peers for peer per­cep­tion has been en­hanced sig­nif­i­cantly,” says Pro­fes­sor Prasad.

The method­ol­ogy of rank­ing will largely be the same as 2016. “We have tried to fine tune the pa­ram­e­ters for greater ob­jec­tiv­ity. For the dis­ci­pline-spe­cific rank­ings, the pa­ram­e­ters have been tweaked to bet­ter suit the con­cerned dis­ci­plines,” he adds.

Broadly, the pa­ram­e­ters used to rank the in­sti­tu­tions are sim­i­lar to those of 2016. How­ever, im­prove­ments have been made based on last year’s learn­ings.

In an­other ma­jor change, the cat­e­gori­sa­tion of the pre­vi­ous year has been elim­i­nated. All in­sti­tu­tions cater­ing to a mini- mum stu­dent pop­u­la­tion will be el­i­gi­ble for an over­all rank, in­de­pen­dent of their sta­tus or dis­ci­pline. How­ever, there will also be dis­ci­pline-spe­cific rank­ings, as men­tioned al­ready, for cer­tain dis­ci­plines. Thus, it is pos­si­ble for an in­sti­tu­tion to have mul­ti­ple ranks.

Re­call­ing how the en­tire process started and look­ing for­ward, Prof Prasad says the first rank­ing process was in­tense, but also very ed­uca­tive. “We had iden­ti­fied some ar­eas of weak­ness. Go­ing for­ward there is def­i­nitely a need to strengthen these. The big­gest pos­i­tive was the over­whelm­ing in­ter­est to par­tic­i­pate in the ef­fort. The big­gest con­cern was the some­what care­less at­ti­tude in pro­vid­ing the re­quired data on the part of many in­sti­tu­tions. The big­gest take­away, how­ever, was the con­fi­dence we de­vel­oped that mean­ing­ful and ob­jec­tive rank­ings can be done even in a large higher ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem like In­dia’s. We have learnt a lot. Hope­fully, we will be able to use these learn­ings for the com­ing cy­cle,” he says.

This year, all par­tic­i­pat­ing in­sti­tu­tions, in­de­pen­dent of their dis­ci­pline or na­ture, will be el­i­gi­ble for a com­mon over­all rank. For this, how­ever, they need to have at least 1,000 en­rolled stu­dents (cal­cu­lated on the ba­sis of ap­proved in­take). The in­sti­tute also has to be a Cen­trally-funded in­sti­tu­tion/univer­sity.

Highly fo­cused in­sti­tu­tions with a sin­gle main dis­ci­pline (en­gi­neer­ing, med­i­cal, law, man­age­ment, phar­macy or UG de­gree col­leges in arts, sci­ence and com­merce, etc.) with less than 1,000 en­rolled stu­dents will be given only a dis­ci­pline-spe­cific rank.

To be ranked on ba­sis of dis­ci­pline, schools or de­part­ments of univer­si­ties or in­sti­tu­tions (such as arts, architecture, en­gi­neer­ing, health and life sciences, hu­man­i­ties and so­cial sciences, law fac­ulty, med­i­cal school, man­age­ment de­part­ments and phar­macy) will have to regis­ter separately and pro­vide ad­di­tional data re­lated to the school or depart­ment.

Dis­ci­pline-spe­cific ranks will be an­nounced only for dis­ci­plines in which a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of in­sti­tu­tions have ap­plied for rank­ings. The list in­cludes some of the prom­i­nent in­sti­tu­tions in that dis­ci­pline, with an ac­cept­able rank­ing score. Open univer­si­ties and af­fil­i­ated var­si­ties (state or Cen­tre ap­proved/funded) will not nor­mally be reg­is­tered for rank­ing. If these var­si­ties have a teach­ing or re­search cam­pus of their own, they can par­tic­i­pate. The In­dian In­sti­tutes of Man­age­ment (IIMs) Bill 2017 was ap­proved by the Union Cabi­net last week. The IIMs will now be de­clared as In­sti­tutes of Na­tional Im­por­tance and will be able to grant de­grees to their stu­dents.

H o w e v e r, the pri­vate B-schools, in­clud­ing post­grad­u­ate diploma in man­age­ment ( PGDM) in­sti­tu­tions, will be af­fected too. Ac­cord­ing to Prof Hari­vansh Chaturvedi, al­ter­nate pres­i­dent, Ed­u­ca­tion Pro­mo­tion So­ci­ety of In­dia, an or­gan­i­sa­tion which has been fight­ing for the autonomy of these B-schools legally, the pass­ing of the Bill is go­ing to cre­ate a big anom­aly by dis­turb­ing an equi­lib­rium be­tween IIMs and over 500 self­fi­nanced PGDM in­sti­tu­tions which have been func­tion­ing for more than 35 years.

“I n t he s i xt i e s, pri­vate B-schools were al­lowed to be set up by the min­istry of hu­man re­source de­vel­op­ment af­ter it was thought that the three IIMs (Ahmed­abad, Ban­ga­lore and Cal­cutta) will not be able to ful­fil the needs of the In­dian in­dus­tries. PGDM in­sti­tu­tions like XLRI, SP Jain In­sti­tute of Man­age­ment and Re­search, and In­ter­na­tional Man­age­ment In­sti­tute, were al­lowed by the MHRD to be run un­der the apron of the All- In­dia Coun­cil for Tech­ni­cal Ed­u­ca­tion (AICTE) as au­tonomous busi­ness schools,” he says.

It is im­per­a­tive that the MHRD looks into the mat­ter of autonomy of these PGDM in­sti­tu­tions as, af­ter the pas­sage of the IIM Bill, the re­cruiters and for­eign univer­si­ties will have doubts about the le­gal iden­tity of a post­grad­u­ate diploma in man­age­ment, says Prof Chaturvedi. In 2010, the AICTE tried to cur­tail autonomy of over 500 PGDM in­sti­tu­tions but the Supreme Court did not al­low it to hap­pen by is­su­ing in­terim or­ders in the last six years. With the Bud­get sched­uled for to­day, all stake­hold­ers in the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor are pin­point­ing to re­search and in­fras­truc­ture as two key ar­eas of fo­cus for the gov­ern­ment.

Aca­demi­cians re­ferred to last year’s an­nounce­ment by fi­nance min­is­ter Arun Jait­ley of mak­ing 10 pub­lic and 10 pri­vate ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions world-class and said the gov­ern­ment should first im­prove the in­fras­truc­ture of the In­dian In­sti­tutes of Man­age­ment (IIMs) and In­dian In­sti­tutes of Tech­nol­ogy. Those from IITs and IIMs said many of them, es­pe­cially the newer in­sti­tutes faced se­vere prob­lems in terms of in­fras­truc­ture.

A se­nior f ac­ulty mem­ber of IIM Ro­htak, who prefers to re­main anony­mous says, “The HRD min­is­ter has clar­i­fied in dif­fer­ent fo­rums to make the IITs and IIMs ex­cel­lent in­sti­tu­tions at par with global stan­dards. In or­der to make it hap­pen, these in­sti­tu­tions need to ex­hibit bril­liance both on teach­ing and re­search fronts. These two prime ac­tiv­i­ties re­quire dif­fer­ent types of in­fras­truc­ture.

Ex­perts say when it comes to teach­ing, both the phys­i­cal and dig­i­tal in­fras­truc­ture play an equally im­por­tant role in the cur­rent sce­nario. Whereas on the re­search front, avail­abil­ity of data­bases, jour­nals, books, soft­ware, and in­sti­tu­tional sup­port in terms of en­cour­ag­ing field vis­its and col­lab­o­rat­ing with for­eign re­searchers and univer­si­ties can make a dif­fer­ence.

Dr Vidya Yer­avdekar, prin­ci­pal di­rec­tor of Sym­bio­sis So­ci­ety, wants “ex­ten­sive funds” to be al­lo­cated for re­search in univer­si­ties in In­dia. “We are lag­ging be­hind in world rank­ings of univer­si­ties be­cause of the poor re­search out­put. If In­dia claims that it will be a knowl­edge econ­omy then gen­er­a­tion of new knowl­edge through re­search in univer­si­ties should be of para­mount im­por­tance. Fund­ing should be given to both pub­lic and pri­vate univer­si­ties var­si­ties de­pend­ing on their qual­ity of re­search, she says.

Given the fact that the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor plays a piv­otal role in the eco­nomic and so­cial de­vel­op­ment of In­dia, Prof Dr Uday Salunkhe, group di­rec­tor of the Wel­ingkar In­sti­tute of Man­age­ment De­vel­op­ment & Re­search (WeS­chool), feels the need for a push for skill de­vel­op­ment ini­tia­tives. The gov­ern­ment’s push to de­vel­op­ing 10 pri­vate in­sti­tutes was laud­able. “It is also im­por­tant to take mea­sures to en­cour­age aca­demic re­search and in­volve par­tic­i­pa­tion of pri­vate in­sti­tu­tions to ad­vance the sec­tor,” Salunkhe said.

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