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'Global ranking benchmarks not good enough for Indian varsities'

Senior officials have admitted that they find ranking parameter used by QS unfavourable to the Indian educational system

Manu Balachandran  |  New Delhi 

Classroom image via Shutterstock

Ranking parameters used by global agencies often go against Indian universities, officials in the HRD Ministry believe. Among the primary reasons why Indian varsities fall behind is that research revenue from the private sector contribute significantly to the ranking system.

Currently, a large number of research related projects are funded by the government under various schemes and private sector participation in the area is still quite limited.

In a recent report published by (QS), none of the Indian institutes figured in the top 200 in the world, raising serious concerns about the Indian education sector. The Indian institute of Technology, New Delhi, topped the list among the Indian institutes at 222nd position.

Now, senior officials have admitted that they find the ranking parameter used by QS unfavourable to the Indian educational system.

“The parameters used include research revenue from the private sector, the number of international students and citation work. In India, the government still funds research projects unlike institutions abroad. Also, when we do not have enough seats for our own students, how can we go ahead and accommodate foreign students”, a senior official at the HRD ministry argued.

The ministry is yet to take up the ranking concerns with QS, but has held discussions with Times Higher education rankings.

“We have held discussions with them to find out their parameters and we do not think that being placed in the rankings is very significant. We have a large mass to educate and our policies are in favour of supporting their needs”, the official added.

India had also recently announced a policy which will allow foreign educational institutions to set up campuses in India without having a local partner even as officials remain skeptical of institutions coming to India due to the strict norms laid out in the policy.

Last week, union Minister of state for development, Shashi Tharoor had said that the ranking parameters used by Times Higher education gave 30% significance to research, another 30% to citation work and 7.5% to the number of foreign educational institutions in India.

“There is a strong need for industry to fund research programs in the country and we are seeing more industry participation now. That being said, we are also trying to understand how the rankings are currently done. Also a lot of research that is being undertaken are on specific topics and areas, so the funding comes accordingly whether it is from the Private or public sector. ”, Prof P Mazumdar, Dean, R&D at said.

The government has now decided to roll out a new programme called Rashtriya Ucchatar Shiksha Abhiyan which is looking to limit the number of colleges affiliated to a university and will also set up more in the country.

The Rs 25,000 crore project will also route funding through state governments to institutions and make more accountable. “The point is to make the quality of education in the country better. From the ministry’s point of view, we will be looking to spend more on improving quality of education in India”, the official added.

First Published: Mon, September 30 2013. 18:30 IST