What’s miss­ing in the In­dian rank­ing for var­si­ties?

SCOPE FOR IM­PROVE­MENT Many prom­i­nent in­sti­tutes across dis­ci­plines did not make it to In­dia’s first na­tional higher ed­u­ca­tion rank­ing

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

The all-In­dia rank­ing for higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions in the coun­try re­leased by the hu­man re­source devel­op­ment (HRD) min­istry last week is be­ing seen as a big step in im­prov­ing the qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion im­parted by In­dian uni­ver­si­ties. It also aims to make these uni­ver­si­ties glob­ally com­pet­i­tive. While 100 in­sti­tu­tions each were ranked un­der the univer­sity and engi­neer­ing cat­e­gories, 50 each were ranked in man­age­ment ( re­search and teach­ing) and phar­macy (re­search and teach­ing) cat­e­gories. PROM­I­NENT NAMES MISS­ING FROM THE LIST One of the sur­prise el­e­ments was t hat s ome prom­i­nent in­sti­tu­tions in dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines were miss­ing in the Na­tional In­sti­tu­tional Rank­ing Frame­work ( NIRF). These i nclude Delhi I nsti­tute of Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Sciences and Re­search, Na­tional Law School of In­dia Univer­sity (Bengaluru), Fac­ulty of Man­age­ment Stud­ies (Delhi), Na­tional In­sti­tute of De­sign (Ahmed­abad), Mu­dra In­sti­tute of Com­mu­ni­ca­tion (Ahmed­abad), In­dian In­sti­tute of Mass Com­mu­ni­ca­tion (Delhi/Dhenkanal) and School of Plan­ning and Ar­chi­tec­ture (Delhi and oth­ers).

The rank­ings were ar­rived at af­ter de­tailed anal­y­sis and val­i­da­tion of the data sub­mit­ted by more than 3,600 higher ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions in the coun­try clas­si­fied in six cat­e­gories. These rank­ings fol­lowed an In­dian ap­proach, where an aca­demic in­sti­tute was as­sessed on pa­ram­e­ters, in­clud­ing teach­ing-learn­ing; re­search; col­lab­o­ra­tive prac­tice and pro­fes­sional per­for­mance; grad­u­ate out­comes; place­ments; out­reach and in­clu­sive ac­tion and peer r group per­cep­tion. Each of these was sub­di­vided into nearly 20 sub cri­te­ria to com­pre­hen­sively as­sess an in­sti­tu­tion.

Cit­ing rea­sons for prom­i­nent names not mak­ing the cut, Ashok Thakur, for mer sec­re­tary to the gov­ern­ment of In­dia, de­part­ment of higher r ed­u­ca­tion, HRD min­istry, says, “This is the first year of NIRF and it is pos­si­ble that many in­sti­tu­tions, in­clud­ing some very good ones could not par­tic­i­pate or could not up­load com- plete in­for­ma­tion. For ex­am­ple, in the cat­e­gory of uni­ver­si­ties, though we have more than 7400 in the coun­try, only about 2500 of them par­tic­i­pated.”

Pro­fes­sor Suren­dra Prasad, who is part of the core com­mit­tee in­volved in de­vis­ing the rank­ing frame­work, says, “NIRF has ranked only those in­sti­tu­tions, which reg­is­tered with it for rank­ing. Those who reg­is­tered, were al­lowed to sub­mit the data re­quired for the rank­ings. Those who did not, were out of our loop. It was en­tirely their choice.”

Karthick Srid­har, vice chair­man, In­dian Cen­tre for Aca­demic Rank­ings and Ex­cel­lence Pvt Ltd, how­ever, says, NIRF could have been more proac­tive in reach­ing out to in­sti­tu­tions. “Con­duct­ing work­shops at re­gional lev­els, ad­dress­ing queries, set­ting up a ded­i­cated phone and email as­sist- ance ser­vice and en­gag­ing more closely with stake­hold­ers so as to ed­u­cate them on the re­quire­ments could have been done in a bet­ter way. Many tech­ni­cal uni­ver­si­ties felt hand­i­capped as they were not aware if they were to par­tic­i­pate as a univer­sity or an engi­neer­ing col­lege or both. The data re­quire­ments set forth by NIRF was way too de­mand­ing such as data of the last three years. There was no proper chan­nel of com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween in­sti­tu­tions and NIRF. All phone calls made to a par­tic­u­lar num­ber at Na­tional Board of Ac­cred­i­ta­tion were ei­ther unan­swered or queries redi­rected to UGC or AICTE. No one agency took com­plete charge and ad­dressed the sit­u­a­tion. In the process, many well­known in­sti­tu­tions ig­nored the rank­ings and hence many notso-well-known in­sti­tu­tions got their chance un­der the sun.”

In­sti­tu­tions cite their own rea­sons for not be­ing able to make a mark on the NIRF. “I think in­sti­tu­tions like FMS have been clubbed with their par­ent univer­sity as FMS is not a stand­alone in­sti­tute. It is a con­stituent com­po­nent of Univer­sity of Delhi. So the univer­sity has been ranked and not in­di­vid­ual fac­ul­ties and de­part­ments,” says ML Singla, dean, Fac­ulty of Man­age­ment Stud­ies.

FCATEGORIES NOT EX­HAUS­TIVE Another as­pect where there is scope for im­prove­ment in the NIRF is the num­ber of cat­e­gories un­der which in­sti­tu­tions have been ranked. This num­ber isn’t ex­haus­tive.

“In the years to come, the num­ber of cat­e­gories will have to be in­creased in or­der to cater to var­i­ous types of in­sti­tu­tions as one can only com­pare ap­ples with ap­ples. For ex­am­ple, apart from sub­ject-wise cat­e­gories, even within the uni­ver­si­ties, the newer ones want sep­a­rate pa­ram­e­ters for rank­ing, which, With the re­lease of the Na­tional In­sti­tu­tional Rank­ing Frame­work (NIRF), In­dian in­sti­tu­tions should now be able to in­tro­spect on their weak­nesses and strengths and im­prove them­selves. Rank­ings will help cre­ate an ecosys­tem con­ducive for them to par­tic­i­pate in global rank­ing sys­tems. As for stu­dents and par­ents, rank­ings based on ob­jec­tive data will be use­ful for tak­ing de­ci­sions re­gard­ing choice of in­sti­tu­tions for study for them­selves or their wards.

Pro­fes­sor Suren­dra Prasad, who is part of the core com­mit­tee in­volved in de­vis­ing the rank­ing frame­work, says, “For teach­ers, and more im­por­tantly for the as­pir­ing fac­ulty, rank­ings of­fer sim­i­lar help in iden­ti­fy­ing the right in­sti­tu­tions where their tal­ents can be best used or honed. For the em­ploy­ers in the in­dus­try, they know which cam­puses can pro­vide them with the kind of man­power that they need for their busi­ness or pro­fes­sional growth.”

Ashok Thakur, for­mer sec­re­tary to the gov­ern­ment of In­dia, de­part­ment of higher ed­u­ca­tion, HRD min­istry, says, there are sev­eral in­sti­tu­tional rat­ings float­ing around in the coun­try of­ten with con­tra­dic­tory find­ings, cre­at­ing con­fu­sion in the minds of the pub­lic and the stu­dents at large.

“NIRF, on the other hand, is spon­sored by the gov­ern­ment and is based on up­front stated pa­ram­e­ters worked out by lead­ing aca­demics of top in­sti­tu­tions like IITs. The rank­ing sys­tem keeps in­sti­tu­tions and the fac­ulty on its toes to per­form bet­ter year af­ter year. It can start a vir­tu­ous cy­cle of good ed­u­ca­tion lead­ing to good rank­ing which, in turn, leads to at­tract­ing good stu­dents and fac- ulty. For the in­dus­try, it fa­cil­i­tates ef­fi­cient cam­pus re­cruit­ments both for em­ploy­ment as well as re­search.” Another per­ti­nent ques­tion is whether this will help In­dian in­sti­tu­tions make a mark glob­ally.

“The ex­er­cise ini­ti­ated un­der NIRF will def­i­nitely cre­ate an ecosys­tem con­ducive to par­tic­i­pa­tion in rank­ing sys­tems, in­clud­ing in­ter­na­tional ones. Since broadly the pa­ram­e­ters and pro­cesses in both re­main the same, it could prove to be a good train­ing ground for the even­tual storm­ing of the in­ter­na­tional rank­ings by our top ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions in fu­ture. In­dia be­ing one of the largest higher ed­u­ca­tion sys­tems in the world with en­roll­ments cross­ing the 30 mil­lion mark, no rank­ing agency worth its name can af­ford to ig­nore it. No won­der these rank­ing agen­cies were more than will­ing to con­duct In­dia-spe­cific rank­ing sys­tem even be­fore it was de­cided that it should be done in­house,” says Thakur.

A sec­tion of ex­perts feels that at the moment, NIRF may be of lit- tle help in go­ing global. Karthick Srid­har, vice chair­man, In­dian Cen­tre for Aca­demic Rank­ings and Ex­cel­lence Pvt Ltd, says, “Our uni­ver­si­ties have started ap­pre­ci­at­ing the im­por­tance of data col­lec­tion. They have per­formed poorly in global rank­ings such as QS and THE be­cause of ab­sence of qual­ity data. In­sti­tu­tions such as IIT-Delhi, Univer­sity of Delhi and Mum­bai Univer­sity are all lag­ging be­hind since rank­ing agen­cies have lit­tle data on them and these in­sti­tu­tions have done lit­tle to im­prove that.

“A clas­sic ex­am­ple is IISC Ban­ga­lore. When it took pro­fes­sional as­sis­tance and put to­gether the right data, un­der­stood the rules of the game bet­ter, its rank­ings went straight into the top 5 of the QS BRICS Uni­ver­si­ties Rank­ings. In­dian in­sti­tu­tions must all ap­point a no­dal of­fi­cer and en­sure the avail­abil­ity of right data which will help im­mensely im­prove their po­si­tions in NIRF, be­sides QS & THE Rank­ings.”


NIRF has ranked only those in­sti­tu­tions, which reg­is­tered with it for rank­ing and prom­i­nent names were miss­ing.

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