Ranking riddle: Benchmarking for excellence in teaching

ByAtul Khosla
Sep 24, 2023 02:44 AM IST

Global university rankings provide us an exceptional insights that helps us keep pace with the global trends and to set our internal benchmarks

I have often been asked by friends, colleagues, my faculty members, as to why do we keep on participating in the international rankings once we have reached the top echelons in the country. And I ask, why not. In the ever-evolving world of academia, the pursuit of excellence is not just a goal; it’s a journey. I’ve always believed in the power of competing with oneself, to be the best version of one’s own self. So why not for an institution, to challenge itself not in comparison to others, but in alignment with its own unique mission and values.

Embracing the idea of self-competition inspires innovation. (iStockphoto)
Embracing the idea of self-competition inspires innovation. (iStockphoto)

“An unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates believed that true wisdom comes from self-examination and in constant pursuit of self-improvement.

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I have found that the global university rankings provide us an exceptional insights that helps us keep pace with the global trends and to set our internal benchmarks. These benchmarks serve as guiding stars, steering us towards continuous improvement in various aspects of our university’s operations.

Embracing the idea of self-competition inspires innovation. That had been my learning working with some of the world’s best corporate. And that learning helps us encourage our faculty to think creatively, experiment with pedagogy, and explore interdisciplinary research. This culture of innovation not only elevates our institution’s performance but also ensures our students receive a dynamic and cutting-edge educational experience.

For any educational institute of higher learning, to excel and deliver a meaningful education to the students, this spirit of competition should be nurtured in order to grow within, forge new strategic partnerships and collaborations with other institutions, and industry leaders worldwide, which enrich our academic and research ecosystem, opening up newer global opportunities for students and faculty.

Ralph Waldo Emerson underlay the true source of personal growth in his words: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us”.

Today, for any educational institution to thrive, this attitude of continuous improvements through participation in such global ranking competition gives us a long-term perspective, creates newer goal posts to track our progress over time against different parameters. This data-driven approach allows us to make data-informed decisions and ensure our actions align with our goals.

Not only that, this self-evaluation in such ranking competitions fosters a culture of accountability among all sections of an institution working together towards a shared vision of excellence ensuring continuous enhancement in teaching quality, research initiatives and innovation.

Global rankings also encourage healthy competition among faculty, motivating them to elevate their research and teaching efforts. They strive to publish impactful research, secure research grants, and deliver engaging lectures that enhance the overall reputation of the university. The commitment to excellence benefits students directly as they receive a top-tier education from faculty at the forefront of their disciplines.

This is the way forward to master one’s own self, one’s own institution, as Lao Tzu’s says, “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”

Every teacher, every educational institution, be it a nursery, school or an institution of higher learning, shall be successful in creating a powerful army of young thinkers, and innovators by unleashing their’s unprecedented, unexplored latent potential.

For a teacher, it is much more imperative to imbibe higher values of leadership amongst the coming generation by embodying and living the virtues like integrity, empathy, and humility that emerge from the active practice and pursuit of excellence through self-analysis and self-competition. This self-transformation alone shall build principled individuals who can bring positive changes in the world as ethical, influential and socially responsible citizens…better human beings. I believe, in that lies success of every teacher.

(The writer is the vice-chancellor of Shoolini University, Solan.)

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