‘Need for In­dia Spe­cific Univer­sity Rank­ings’

Var­si­ties have the re­spon­si­bil­ity to be in­clu­sive by be­ing ac­ces­si­ble to the most dis­ad­van­taged sec­tions of so­ci­ety

The Economic Times - - Career & Business Life/companies -

for rank­ings are highly skewed to­wards ci­ta­tions, pub­li­ca­tions in top notch jour­nals, pres­ence of No­bel prize win­ners, avail­abil­ity of large en­dow­ments, pres­ence of in­ter­na­tional stu­dents and fac­ulty, on­line-based pop­u­lar­ity sur­veys and so on. While many of these pa­ram­e­ters are im­por­tant, for a coun­try like In­dia, with a huge young pop­u­la­tion, it is im­por­tant that In­dian uni­ver­si­ties not only fo­cus on aca­demic ex­cel­lence but on sev­eral other fac­tors too for them to be­come more so­cially rel­e­vant. In­dia should evolve its own rank­ing sys­tem based on a broader spec­trum of pa­ram­e­ters in ad­di­tion to aca­demic ex­cel­lence.

It is only re­cently that In­dia has started a Na­tional In­sti­tu­tional Rank­ing Frame­work in six broad cat­e­gories: en­gi­neer­ing, man­age­ment, phar­macy, ar­chi­tec­ture, uni­ver­si­ties and col­leges. The pa­ram­e­ters used by NIRF for eval­u­a­tion are teach­ing, learn­ing and re­sources, re­search and pro­fes­sional prac­tices, grad­u­a­tion out­comes, out­reach and in­clu­siv­ity, and per­cep­tion.

While this is a be­gin­ning in mak­ing In­dian ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tutes com­pete with each other and ex­cel, it is im­por­tant that we in­clude ad­di­tional pa­ram­e­ters to make these rank­ings more so­cially rel­e­vant for a coun­try like ours.

Uni­ver­si­ties have the re­spon­si­bil­ity to be in­clu­sive and en­cour­age di­ver­sity by be­ing ac­ces­si­ble to the most dis­ad­van­taged sec­tions of so­ci­ety. They should in­cor­po­rate enough safe­guards to avoid any dis­crim­i­na­tive prac­tices. Do In­dian uni­ver­si­ties en­sure that their cam­puses are safer for women and do they proac­tively work to­wards gen­der equal­ity?

Of­ten very lit­tle at­ten­tion is paid by the uni­ver­si­ties to the phys­i­cally chal­lenged stu­dents in terms of designing proper ac­cess to the build­ings and pro­vid­ing ap­pro­pri­ate tools to en­hance their learn­ing. By look­ing be­yond the stereo- type men­tal­ity, uni­ver­si­ties should pro­vide equal op­por­tu­ni­ties to help the stu­dents achieve their full po­ten­tial.

When uni­ver­si­ties be­come large, the power con­sump­tion can be in ex­cess of10 MW per an­num. Uni­ver­si­ties must evolve a green pol­icy for ef­fi­cient util­i­sa­tion of power and should nec­es­sar­ily fo­cus on self-sus­tain­abil­ity, so that the univer­sity’s power re­quire­ments are met through re­new­able en­ergy sources such as pho­to­voltaic sys­tems.

The abil­ity of a univer­sity to ad­just and adapt to the chang­ing ped­a­gog­i­cal ap­proaches too is im­por­tant. For ex­am­ple, do uni­ver­si­ties put a spe­cial em­pha­sis on self-learn­ing com­po­nent in their cur­ricu­lum? Has the univer­sity evolved tech­niques to pro­vide suit­able guid­ance and re­source ma­te­ri­als to the stu­dents to make self-learn­ing an ef­fec­tive com­po­nent of teach­ing process?

Cou­pled with this is the need for con­tin­u­ous eval­u­a­tion. The pur­pose of ex­am­i­na­tions and tests is to pro­vide timely feed­back to the stu­dents to help them nav­i­gate through their learn­ing. How­ever, if tests are con­ducted only in the mid­dle and end of a se­mes­ter, they will serve no use­ful pur­pose in help­ing the stu­dents in al­ter­ing their ap­proach to learn­ing. For too long, our var­si­ties have pro­duced job seek­ers. Why is that they do not pro­duce job cre­ators? Do our uni­ver­si­ties place enough em­pha­sis on en­trepreneurial skills and cre­ate an ecosys­tem which en­ables their stu­dents to be­come startup wizards?

As the In­dian sys­tem of eval­u­a­tion evolves and when the In­dian ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tutes ex­cel by com­pet­ing with each other to be­come role mod­els for the rest of the so­ci­ety for their teach­ing, re­search and so­cial com­mit­ment, the world is go­ing to take note of it. That is bet­ter than get­ting into the ugly con­test of univer­sity hege­mony promoted by the elite clubs of uni­ver­si­ties.

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