India’s favourite IITs which are ranked best by the national ranking – NIRF – find it hard to show similar performance in the global rankings. The old and leading IITs had in 2020 boycotted the Times Higher Education (THE) Ranking citing lack of “transparency in their ranking process”. The boycott still continues. In the recently announced QS World University Ranking, the best performance from India was at 177th rank globally by IIT-Bombay. None of the Indian institutes could make it to the global top 100.
Among Asian counterparts too, India’s performance was underwhelming. The best university from Asia in QS World University Ranking 2021 was the National University of Singapore (NUS) at the 11th spot globally. Malaysia had the most ranked universities from Southeast Asia with 22 entries followed by Indonesia with 16 institutes. China’s Tsinghua University got the 17th rank, globally.
Even though IIT-Delhi had improved its performance from last year, IIT-Delhi director, V. Ramgopal Rao said he is not happy with the performance. “Our top institutions in India can be among the top 50 in any of the World University Rankings,” claims Rao as he highlights several loopholes in the matrix of international ranking agencies.
In the ranking system, half of the points are based on reputation. Of the total, 40 per cent weightage is given to academic reputation and 10 per cent to employer reputation. The IIT director said that IITs and Indian institutes, in general, need to be more visible about what they do. Last year while announcing the NIRF ranking the Education Minister had said that he does not agree with the global rankings and believes they give too much weightage to the ‘perspective’ matrix.
IITs also consistently rank low on foreign enrolments of teachers and students. On this, the IIT Director said, “IIT jobs are government jobs. Recruiting international faculty is still riddled with policy issues at all levels.” Regarding international students, Rao said that while IITs have increased enrolment at postgraduate and PhD level, to have the same at the undergraduate level is difficult. “Because of the high level of preparation needed for the JEE Adv exam, the doors are almost closed for international students at the undergraduate levels.” He suggests that there should be more high-quality institutions in India so the pressure on IIT admissions comes down.
Several IITs have claimed that ‘citation per faculty’ which is one of the matrix considered by QS is not suitable for Indian institutes as when hiring a new faculty, the institutes go drastically down in the index. Sharing similar sentiments, Rao in his open letter said, “citations per faculty rather than citations per paper as a metric. The latter would have been better for fast-growing institutions such as IITs.”
Older IITs have also taken a hit in their student-teacher ratio because the number of students has increased because of the EWS quota implemented recently. The older IITs added 2500 additional students in the last two years because of EWS quota implementation, said Rao, however, finding “quality faculty” corresponding to these students is a slow process, he informed.