Will Indian rankings work for institutes of higher education?

  • Gauri Kohli, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Oct 24, 2015 16:12 IST
Make a mark: The launch of the National Institutional Ranking Framework by the HRD ministry is expected to help Indian institutes improve their ratings globally. (Istock)

Two top global rankings this year had good news for some Indian institutes of higher education. While the 2015 Times Higher Education rankings had 17 Indian institutions in the top 800, two Indian institutes made it to the top 200 on the QS Global rankings for the first time. Chances of things improving look bright as the ministry of human resource development has recently launched the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), India’s own ranking system, to help institutes establish themselves globally.

How will it function?

According to Prof Surendra Prasad, chairman, National Board of Accreditation, “The parameters for selection are broadly divided into five major heads – resources for teaching and learning, research and collaborative effort, graduation outcome, outreach and inclusivity and peer and stakeholder perception. Nearly 20 parameters have been identified over these five heads, and suitable metrics have been defined based either on desirable benchmarks, or on normalised values. Work is currently in progress in a few other disciplines like pharmacy, architecture and comprehensive universities.”

Professor Prasad, who is also a part of the core committee involved in devising the ranking framework, says that many of the parameters are similar to those employed globally. “There are a few which are especially relevant to the Indian situation, especially those dealing with outreach and inclusivity,” he says.

The ranking framework is currently available for engineering and management colleges. The NIRF considers India-centric parameters such as diversity and inclusivity apart from excellence in teaching and research. Three broad domains of disciplines have been picked for separate rankings, which include engineering institutions, management institutions and comprehensive universities. Within each discipline, there may be a separate ranking in two categories – institutions which are engaged in research and teaching, and those engaged in teaching.

Institutions that have been given academic autonomy will be classified as Category A while those affiliated to universities will be classified as Category B. An autonomous college which is engaged primarily in teaching, can be ranked in Category B. Category A would comprise Institutes of National Importance set up by an Act of Parliament, state universities, deemed-to-be-universities, private universities and other autonomous colleges. A ranking authority is also in the process of being identified, which will invite institutes intending to participate in the exercise to submit their applications by December. The rankings will be published ahead of next year’s admission schedule.

Do we need it?

Is there a need for an India-specific ranking? “Yes, we need a ranking system to capture all facets of education, teaching, learning and facilities for overall development of students. It will also capture nuances like inclusiveness, outreach, regional and international diversity, education to disadvantaged sections of society, gender equity and support to the physically-challenged,” says Anil D Sahasrabudhe, chairman, All India Council for Technical Education.

A look at how Indian institutions have fared on the global rankings reveal that only a few have found a place. “So, when parents and students seek admission to Indian institutions, they only have others’ recommendations to go by. There is a need for an Indian ranking system or at least a rating system. Also having a system sends a message: pay attention to key parameters. If that happens, you are empowering institutions to improve their international standing,” adds Prof Prasad.

Prof DP Singh, director, National Assessment and Accreditation Council, says, “The MHRD has initiated the process of consultations for formulating the new education policy (NEP). For this purpose, several themes have been identified. The MHRD is holding thematic consultations for all the themes.” A national consultation meeting on ranking of institutions and accreditation was recently held in Bengaluru. Inputs from academicians and other experts will be put together for the preparation of an outcome document on the ranking of institutions and accreditations.

NIRF Highlights

# It is currently available for engineering and management institutions

# The NIRF considers India-centric parameters like diversity and inclusiveness apart from excellence in teaching, learning and research

# Three broad domains of disciplines have been picked up for separate rankings: engineering institutions, management institutions and comprehensive universities

# Autonomous institutions, state universities, deemed-to-be-universities and private universities to be included in the framework

# The rankings will be published ahead of next year’s admission schedule

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