A Good Initiative in Higher Education
India Ranking 2016, the first, state-sponsored, comparative assessment of universities and higher education institutes for engineering, management and pharmacy, marks the beginning of an important exercise. It will help institutions identify their shortcomings, and should help channel resources for improvements. The intent of the ministry of human resource development and ranking committee is to create a competitive environment in the higher education sector to improve the quality and output of institutions. The core purpose of higher education institutions and universities is to extend the frontiers of knowledge. This can be cutting-edge research in science, technology, engineering and medicine, or research in social science, design of institutions or instruments that tackle social and economic questions and impact on public policy. A university must also be judged by the quality of the human resource it produces, and the impact it has on systems and policy. While the broad categories acknowledge the key function of higher education — 60-70% of weightage is given to teaching and learning resources, and research and professional practices — the parameters that comprise these categories require refinement to ensure that the ranking system becomes a tool that spurs higher education institutions to actualise their core purpose. This will mean reorienting the country’s higher education institutions: from degree-doling units to knowledge creators, and this will require policy support. The Indian Ranking should spur higher education institutions to higher levels of excellence. Universities that create new knowledge are integral to the real promise of Made in India and Stand Up India. Industry should use the rankings to fund research in university departments.