FROM THE EDITOR- IN- CHIEF
Power of knowledge, like political power, is centralised in the Capital of India. The 17th INDIA TODAY- Nielsen Best Colleges Survey proves that point once more. Five of the country’s nine top colleges in various streams are from Delhi. With St. Stephen’s College emerging topper in both arts and science, IIT- Delhi claiming the top slot among engineering colleges after three years, AIIMS- Delhi remaining a winner for 11 years and NIFT- Delhi maintaining the numero uno position in fashion for the second consecutive year, Delhi has emerged as the knowledge capital of India.
This year’s survey has introduced a new segment— emerging colleges that have come up in the last 20 years in arts, science, commerce, engineering, medicine and law. These colleges may have missed the main rankings but still have significant academic achievements to their name. This list is a significant value addition to our survey as higher education in India suffers from scarcity of both quality and quantity. According to a 2010 study by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council, over 90 per cent of colleges are average or below average.
But excellence in board examination results is soaring to newer heights. This year, the CBSE topper scored 99 per cent, with perfect 100 in four subjects. Such incredible results have only led to almost impossible cut- offs in colleges, especially in Delhi University ( DU), making a mockery of our education system.
The good news is that this year, DU has instructed colleges to distribute the seats of pass courses among honours courses, which will significantly increase the number of admissions. Besides seats, the DU undergraduate course will also be longer by a year, starting this session. According to DU Vice- Chancellor Dinesh Singh, who championed this controversial four- year undergraduate programme, the new structure will introduce a healthy interdisciplinary approach to education. It’s still not clear what impact this change will have on the job prospects of students. While India boasts of over 34,000 colleges, the quality of human resources that a majority of these institutes churn out is debatable.
There is an urgent need for education reform, but Government initiatives are stuck in legislative procedures. The Higher Education and Research Bill, 2011, which intends to create a National Commission for Higher Education and Research to improve standards of higher education, is yet to see the light of day. At 3 per cent of the GDP, India spends in higher education only half of what the Kothari Commission recommended in 1964— 6 per cent. In 2010, the then HRD minister Kapil Sibal admitted that the country needed 800 new universities and 40,000 new colleges to take the gross enrolment ratio from 18 per cent to 30 per cent by 2020. By the Government’s own admission, one way to fill this gap is to allow foreign universities in the country. However, the Foreign Universities Bill is still languishing in Parliament.
One of the aims of our college survey is to create a discourse on the issues plaguing our education system. Though several such studies have come out imitating us, the INDIA TODAY survey remains the gold standard for students, academics and policy- makers. Log in to our website to check several digital interactives that a joint team of INDIA TODAY and Gramener, a data analytics and visualisation company, has created to help you explore colleges, streams and rankings easily and extensively.
Please let us know how this annual exercise can be made even more comprehensive. Till then, enjoy college life.
OUR JUNE 2012 COVER