Even as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are preparing a roadmap for improving their ranking in the world, a relatively lesser "branded" Indian university has marched ahead quietly.
Touching close to top 200 in the world, surprise entrant in the latest best-400 league table released by The Times Higher Education, UK, is Panjab University, Chandigarh. The world rankings for the year 2013-14 released on Wednesday places it in the 226-to-250 band.
The IITs in Delhi, Kanpur, Kharagpur and Roorkee are all in the 351-to-400 group. No Indian university is in top 200. Last year three IITs (Kharagpur, Bombay and Roorkee) were on the Times chart, with Kharagpur in the 226-250 band.
"We are delighted that three new Indian institutions, including Panjab University, have provided us with data and have been ranked for the first time," said Phil Baty, editor of Times Higher Education. "This means that India now has an institution near to the elite 200 group. Panjab University receives very good scores for citation impact, which means that its academics are producing research that is used widely and valued by the global academic community," he added.
Many Indian universities who submitted data to the UK publishing group did not qualify the ranking criteria. "We had 19 participants from India, best in the country. I hope more Indian institutions engage with us in the future, enabling us to paint a true and a whole picture of higher education in India," said Baty, denying that the data had been collected from the Internet. "We approach the universities directly," he said.
The key was updating data at the proper time. "Sometimes because of bureaucratic delays, the data do not reach the ranking agencies on time," said an academician. "We are not competing with the IITs in technology and science. But these rankings cover a broad spectrum of excellence. If we lose on some counts, we gain on other aspects," said Panjab University vice-chancellor Arun Grover.
The ascent does not come as a surprise to the V-C. "We are India's fourth oldest university and have produced luminaries such as (scientists) Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar and Har Gobind Khorana. We were a few years ago ranked 380 by an international agency," Grover added.
The university has nearly 3,000 research scholars and 340 students received PhD in the 2013 convocation. "We have the potential to reach anywhere between 100 and 180," said Grover.
The IIT directors, however, are surprised. "We have to see on what basis the ranking has been done," said Prof Gautam Barua, who until recently was director of IIT-Guwahati. IIT Kanpur director Indranil Manna said: 'This only vindicates my view. Where are they getting the data from? We are open to scrutiny but there should be some guidelines."
"All the parameters should be known. Also there should be transparency in the availability of data," said former IIT Kanpur director Dr Sanjay Dhande. IIT Bombay director Devang V Khakhar said he didn't how the ranking was done. IIT-Roorkee director Pradipta Banerji said the university double-checked to submit only the "factual data".
Created in 1882 in Lahore (now in Pakistan)
After Partition in 1947, functioned for almost a decade without a campus of own .In 1956, moved to Chandigarh.
Till the reorganisation of Punjab in 1966, had regional centres in Rohtak, Shimla and Jalandhar, and affiliate colleges in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh
75 teaching and research departments
15 centres, chairs on main campus
192 affiliated/constituent colleges
4 regional centres
700 members of faculty.
Former president SD Sharma
Former prime minister IK Gujral
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj
Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal
Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Hooda
Astronaut Kalpna Chawla