India Today - - FRONT PAGE - ( Aroon Purie)

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.


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