Are Indian institutions really falling short of global standards or are the global rankings deficient in measuring all parameters that apply to the Indian system? Times Higher Education (THE) rankings, for instance, measure institutions on the basis of teaching, research: volume, income and reputation; citations: research influence; industry income: innovation; and international outlook: staff, students and research.
Rahul Choudaha, chief knowledge officer and senior director of strategic development at the World Education Services, New York City, says, “Rankings in general are a proxy of reputation but do not fully capture the quality, complexity and diversity of higher education systems around the world. While it is critical to raise the bar of quality in Indian higher education, rankings are not the best metric at this stage of the maturity of the system. Before rankings, it is imperative to address two fundamentals of higher education systems – institutional accountability and regulatory framework. Unless a robust regulatory and quality assurance framework can ensure institutional accountability, the rankings will give misguided directions.”
Choudaha also adds a word of caution, saying that premature experiments with rankings will widen the gap between different types of institutions. “For example, well resourced institutions like IITs in niche technical fields will become the symbol of quality, while the system itself will be struggling due to an incoherent regulatory framework. Three-year degree colleges where nearly three-fourth of all Indian students study will further fall behind as rankings will focus on engineering,” he says.
It is a fact that each ranking system, be it QS, THE or Shanghai looks at slightly different parameters. “Wherever similar parameters are used, there is a difference in weightage assigned and hence results could be different. However, some parameters that all these systems look at are publications in reputed peer reviewed journals, citations, collaborations and internationalisation. In these parameters, except a few institutes like IISc or IITs, others are certainly found wanting. These ranking systems do not look at social perspective of education, inclusiveness and participation of all category and strata of society,” says Anil D Sahasrabudhe, chairman, AICTE.