The latest QS World University Rankings are out and, as has been the case before, India fares poorly. In fact, the country makes an appearance on the list only at the 222nd spot, with the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT-D). In Asia, IIT-D comes in at the 38th spot while among the BRICS nations, it is placed 13th. The global top-10, predictably, is a US-UK show, but the fact that India's showing, even in a limited pool such as just the BRICS nations, is rather telling.
Even though India incurs significant expenditure on higher education—at 3% of the GDP, the country's education spend is higher than that of the US—our varsities are far from being world-class. Part of the problem stems from a missing base—with the miserably low levels of school education, especially in government schools (according to the latest Actual Status of Education Report), the critical mass for a demand push for quality in undergraduate and post-graduate education is lacking. But the larger blame must rest with the obsolete policy deck for higher education. One would think that the poor showing of Indian varsities would have spurred India's policy-makers into action. But at least three Bills—the Foreign Educational Institutions Bill 2010, that would have allowed foreign varsities to set up campuses in the country, the Universities for Research and Innovation Bill 2012, and the National Accreditation Regulatory Authority for Higher Educational Institutions Bill, 2010, to standardise academic quality—that could have improved varsity education are set to lapse with the end of the term of the 15th Lok Sabha, with Parliament having failed to pass them.