It’s not the globally famous IITs but the lesser known Panjab University that has emerged as India’s top university.
The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013-14 released on Wednesday places Panjab in the 226-250 ranking band, way ahead of four IITs — Delhi, Kanpur, Kharagpur and Roorkee — that are in the 351-400 band. Panjab is a new entrant in the league table of the world’s top 400 universities. So are IIT Delhi and Kanpur.
“This means India now has an institution near the elite top 200. Panjab receives very good scores for citation impact, which means its academics are producing research widely used and valued by the academic community around the world,” said Phil Baty, editor of British magazine Times Higher Education, which publishes the annual rankings.
The top 200 universities get individual rankings while the next 200 are put in bands.
California Institute of Technology retains top spot with Harvard and Oxford sharing second place. Thirteen indicators across five areas were taken into account, including research, teaching, knowledge transfer and international activity.
There were 21 participants from India but most of them failed to make the cut.
Panjab University vice-chancellor Prof Arun Grover said the honour didn’t come as a surprise. “Our institute is India’s fourth oldest university and has produced luminaries like (scientist) Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar and Har Govind Khorana (joint winner of the 1968 medicine Nobel).”
“We are not competing with IITs in technology and science. The IITs have a high level of excellence. But these rankings cover a broad spectrum of excellence. If we lose on some counts, we gain on others,” he added.
On the other hand, the IITs were surprised. “We have to see on what basis the ranking has been done and analyse it. It also shows how complex the process of ranking is,” said Prof Gautam Barua, till recently the director of IIT Guwahati.
IIT Kanpur director Indranil Manna said, “Where are they getting the data from? We are open to scrutiny but there should be guidelines from ranking agencies.”
“It is welcome news but at the same time, all parameters should be known. Also, there should be transparency in the availability of data,” said former IIT Kanpur director Dr Sanjay Dhande.
Rejecting talk of problems with the data collection process, Baty denied the information was taken off the internet. “We directly approach the universities for data.”