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7 IITs shun Times rankings

They argued that the London-based agency’s process of grading educational institutions is opaque
The Indian Institutes of Technology in Mumbai, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Chennai and Roorkee will shun this year’s World University Rankings done by Times Higher Education (THE) as well as its separate rankings for engineering and technology institutions.
The Indian Institutes of Technology in Mumbai, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Chennai and Roorkee will shun this year’s World University Rankings done by Times Higher Education (THE) as well as its separate rankings for engineering and technology institutions.
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Our Special Correspondent   |   New Delhi   |   Published 18.04.20, 09:43 PM

India’s oldest seven IITs have decided to boycott the global rankings done by Times Higher Education, arguing the London-based agency’s process of grading educational institutions is opaque.

The Indian Institutes of Technology in Mumbai, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Chennai and Roorkee will shun this year’s World University Rankings done by Times Higher Education (THE) as well as its separate rankings for engineering and technology institutions.

However, these seven IITs will continue their association with Quacquarelli Symonds, another London-based ranking firm.

Three months ago, these tech schools had complained about Times Higher Education’s ranking process after the world rankings for 2019 placed the venerable IIT Delhi and IIT Bombay between 400 and 500 and the stripling IIT Ropar between 300 and 350.

THE brings out its World University Rankings and the separate rankings for engineering and technology institutions on the basis of the same sets of data provided by the institutions themselves.

On Saturday, the seven IITs shared an analysis by M.K. Surappa, former IIT Ropar director, which argues that the ranking process lacks transparency.

One of the objections raised in Surappa’s 2015 article is that THE does not publish the scores awarded to each institution against each of the 13 criteria used in the rankings.

Also, Surappa said, the World University Rankings and the separate rankings for engineering institutes tended to accord different weights to the same criteria. One such criterion was that of the institution’s reputation, he said.

IIT Delhi director Ramgopal Rao said the way credit was distributed relating to the criterion of publication and citation was unconvincing.

“If a particular paper has 150 authors from different institutions, not all of them would have contributed equally,” Rao said.

“But THE gives equal weight to all the institutions. That is not how we expect our faculty to produce research.”

Sources said the IITs had grown suspicious about the rankings after several little-known institutions made it to the top 500 in certain years and disappeared from the rankings after that.

The seven IITs will reconsider their decision next year if Times Higher Education can remove their doubts about the differential weights accorded to the parameters and the issue of transparency in the ranking process.

Rajeev Kumar, former IIT Kharagpur professor who now teaches at JNU, said the Times Higher Education ranking might indeed be problematic but the IITs needed to increase international collaboration and the intake of international students and foreign teachers. He said they also needed to increase their earning from technology development and patenting.

Kumar said the central government’s National Institute of Ranking Framework, which ranks Indian institutions every year, does not verify the information supplied by the institutions. There should be third-party verification of the data, he said.



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