With the arrival of the 2023 edition of Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) rankings, the debate over the methodology adopted in grading Indian institutions has become a topic of debate as only three institutions have made it to the top 200.
Dwelling deep into the various parameters responsible for final rankings, it is evident that the major weightage is given to the Academic and Employer reputation of the concerned institute. To be precise, it accounts for 50% of the final score in the ranking, where the emphasis is on the quality of teaching and research of the institute as per 130000 academic experts all over the globe.
However, in this vital parameter, Indian institutes suffer greatly in comparison to institutes in western and European countries. For instance, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has a score of 96.5 and 87.1 in academic and employer reputation respectively.
While premier Indian institute IISc Bangalore managed to score only 37.6 and 22.9 in those parameters, despite being 1st in the world in terms of citations per faculty.
This factor also becomes detrimental for varsities like Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Milia Islamia which are often places of protests and politics. The same is evident in the low scores of 8.3 and 6.3 in terms of academic reputation. Despite the fact that these universities score well in the NIRF ranking by the Ministry of Education, India.
Institutes like Delhi University, JNU, and JMI have slipped downwards in the rankings this year. The Public Relations Officer, Jamia Millia Islamia said, “We too are determined to improve our rankings. We find that there is greater scope for improvement in the international faculty and international student ratio. These two parameters, however, are not purely in our purview and are also linked to policy decisions at the government level.”
Jawaharlal Nehru University Vice-Chancellor, Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit, showing disagreement with the methodology of QS said that they only look at “whether you have published papers or not”, and not at diversity.
Other important factors where Indian universities lag behind foreign varsities are the International student ratio and international faculty ratio. Proceeding with the example of Caltech which scores 85.1 and 99.8 in the mentioned parameters, the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay scores a mere 1.9 and 11.7 respectively.
The low scores are no surprise as India is still a developing country which lacks the infrastructure and funds to cater for the needs of Western and European academicians and students. Therefore, there is a great need for policies for attracting foreign crowds to Indian educational institutions.
Moreover, it is also to be noted that the institutes occupying the top position in QS ranking are centuries old and also enjoy handsome funds and donations from alumni and governments. For instance, Oxford and Harvard Universities were founded in the 11th and 13th centuries respectively while the Indian institutes are a maximum of 100-200 years old.
The immediate past Director of IIT Delhi, Prof. V Ramgopal Rao stated in a post, “So if we are faring poorly in these rankings, it’s not because our top institutions aren’t research intensive or poor in quality. It’s because of perception and lack of International footprint.
He also added that “Our top institutions going global and developing an international footprint is the surest and the fastest way to reach our rightful place in these world rankings. That we need to do, without compromising on our other quality metrics.”
The Nanyang Technological University Singapore has stood against all odds, becoming the 12th best university in the world. This fairly young university, founded in 1961, is giving tough competition to elite foreign institutes.