Are Indian institutions as poor as the QS and Times global university ratings suggest?

Oct 05 2013, 08:45 IST
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Panjab University has sprinted ahead of the elite IITs in the latest round of the Times Higher Education (THE) Rankings 2013-14. Panjab University has sprinted ahead of the elite IITs in the latest round of the Times Higher Education (THE) Rankings 2013-14.
SummaryIn two sets 2013 global university rankings, institutions from India are nowhere in the picture.

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So, what can we conclude from all of the above? Surely, it should be clear that the ranking of universities is not a simple task. We have only scratched the surface, as have QS and THE. There are so many other aspects of an educational institution that they have not even touched upon. Many of these aspects are qualitative in nature, and it is difficult to quantify them. This is not to say that Indian universities do not need to improve their rankings. They do, and to begin with, we will have to provide data to these organisations in the format they expect. Interactions are already on. But if we want Indian institutions to get appreciably higher QS and THE rankings, we must allow the institutions to do the following: a) spend heavily to aggressively market the institute among academia and corporations in the US and Europe; b) substantially increase the number of foreign students. The government must allow undergraduate admissions, allow assistantships for foreigners and remove ceilings on incomes for foreign faculty; c) hire a large number of temporary “teachers” to boost the faculty-student ratio (which counts the number of “academic staff”, and which apparently is done by many US universities); and d) create a network among Indian institutions to encourage citations of papers of other Indian institutions, that is, scratch each others’ backs. Finally, of course, all institutions must strive to improve the quality and quantity of research, teaching, industry interaction, etc.

The writer, former director of IIT-Guwahati, is mentor-director of the newly established IIIT-Guwahati

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