The Telegraph
Wednesday , June 18 , 2014
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Not in top 10? Get a new ranking

New Delhi, June 17: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today called for an “India Ranking” metric of academic institutions, which can then involve the Saarc nations.

The trigger appeared to be the release of a ranking of the top 200 institutions in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) by a London-based agency. No Indian institution figures among the top 10.

Modi, presented with a copy of QS University Rankings: BRICS 2014 by his HRD minister Smriti Irani, said: “The existing assessment systems are skewed towards Western nations.” There is a need to link research and education to the development needs of the country, he said, before calling for an independent Indian ranking system.

China’s Tsinghua University topped the list released by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) today. Six Chinese institutions have made the top 10, as have two from Brazil and one each from South Africa and Russia.

IIT Delhi stands 13th on the list, and IIT Bombay 14th. IIT Kanpur, IIT Madras and IIT Kharagpur, which has more staff members with PhD than any other institution in the top 200, are placed 16th, 17th and 20th respectively.

The QS and The Times Higher Education (THE) are rankings drawn up by private organisations. Possibly because of the wide publicity they draw, India had last year invited representatives from both to advise academic leaders on how to help institutions better their rankings.

The QS used eight criteria to assess institutions: academic reputation globally (30 per cent weightage), employer reputation (20 per cent), faculty/student ratio (20 per cent), staff with PhD (10 per cent), papers per faculty (10 per cent), citations per paper (5 per cent), international faculty (2.5 per cent) and international students (2.5 per cent).

An IIT director echoed Modi, saying many parameters favoured institutions from Europe and the US. The director said that IITs score low on academic impression, which can be subjective.

Indian institutions also score low on the presence of international students and faculty. There are government restrictions on hiring international faculty, who can only be appointed for a temporary period subject to the annual income threshold of $14,000.

Simona Bizzozero, head of public relations, QS, said in an email that Indian institutions operate within a specific national context and face challenges and priorities not necessarily the same as that of their international peers. A ranking exclusive to India or including the Saarc nations may well provide a useful source of information on their comparative performance in areas not covered by international rankings, she said.

“However, in order to achieve the goals that the government has set for Indian institutions to compete with the world’s very best, India will also need to measure up to the standards set by the top institutions in North America and western Europe in areas such as research, teaching, employability and internationalisation,” Bizzozero told The Telegraph.

During the UPA government, THE had offered to bring out an India-specific ranking. But since this would only compare Indian institutions among themselves and not globally, the government did not show much interest.

Russia, with 53 institutions in the BRICS top 200, is second only to China, which has 71. But only seven Russian institutions make the top 50, fewer than China (21), Brazil (10), and India (9), the QS said in a news statement.