Times Higher Education to Add India-specific Parameters to Ranking

Jan 11, 2014 by

Source: The Economic Times | January 6, 2014

NEW DELHI: Indian institutions could improve their scores dramatically in Times Higher Education’s globally cited World University Rankings as the British magazine has agreed to develop and include India-specific parameters for assessment from the next time.

Confirming the development, education secretary Ashok Thakur said the human resource development ministry had asked all groupings of domestic institutions such as the IITs, National Institutes of Technology and central universities to appoint a nodal person to coordinate with Times Higher Education to develop India-specific parameters.

Domestic institutions have long argued that the rankings, which give 55% weight to research indicators and 30% to teaching environment, including 15% to the faculty, do not take into account extenuating “Indian circumstances”.

No Indian institution has yet made it to the top 100 in the rankings, in which Panjab University is the highest ranked domestic institution clubbed in the group of universities ranked 226-250.

India’s premier engineering colleges, the Indian Institutes of Technology, made it to the list last year, with the IITs from Delhi, Kanpur, Kharagpur and Roorkee all ranked in the group of institutions between 351 and 400.

The government has been concerned over the poor performance of domestic institutions in international rankings and keen to ensure that the rankings take India-specific parameters on board.

There is little clarity on what exactly constitutes “Indian circumstances” except the constitutionally mandated reservation quotas (15% for scheduled castes, 7.5% for scheduled tribes and 27% for other backward classes) and the cross-cutting quota for physically-challenged persons. But issues including intake of foreign students, foreign faculty, marketing and branding of institutions will be addressed while designing India-specific parameters for assessment.

Academics and analysts argue that it is unfair to compare India’s top institutions with American or other western institutions. Centrally-funded institutions such as the IITs, which have a national mandate, cannot admit foreign students at the undergraduate level, and restrictions on assistantships for international students make it difficult to attract foreign students at the PhD level.

None of India’s publicly-funded higher education institution can hire foreign nationals as regular faculty members since guidelines prohibit hiring of foreigners for jobs with salaries less than $25,000 a year. Moreover, even at higher salaries, international faculty can only be brought in on contract for up to five years.

The ministry had also approached the widely respected Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) Rankings to develop India-specific parameters for assessment.

TCS Insights: By using India-specific parameters, Indian educational institutions will be better able to compete with international colleges and universities when ranked together. It is difficult for publicly funded institutions in India to measure up to global competition while unable to take in foreign undergraduate students and competing for PhD students from abroad. Times Higher Education has made it possible for such institutions to compete in a manner that is better suited for them.