Daily News Analysis

Higher Education Ranking

4th September, 2021 Society

Context:

  • No India university in under top 300 of the Times Higher Education Ranking.

Key Takeaways from the Ranking:

  • The United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Australia continue to contribute the greatest number of universities to the top 200. 
  • China (People's Republic of China) is making its presence felt in the university rankings, with 2 universities in the top 20.
  • While no Indian university is in the top 200, IISc Bengaluru continues to be the highest-ranked Indian institution in the top 350. Five other Indian institutions, including IIT Ropar and IIT Indore, are in the top 600. 
  • A record 71 institutes from India have qualified for this year's rankings, up from 63 last year and 49 two years ago.

Reasons Behind Poor Ranking:

  • Low spending by global standards that it holds back India's economic, technological and strategic ambitions. India's R&D spending amounts to 0.7% of gross domestic product, a fraction of China's 2.1%, let alone Japan's 3.1%.
  • A lax intellectual property regime, foolish sectoral regulations and a protectionist trade policy have deterred R&D thus reducing industry income.
  • Composition of spending is also skewed. The government and a few strategic sectors, notably atomic energy, space and defense, account for the bulk of the meagre spending.
  • The contribution of Indian companies, both private and public sector taken together, to total R&D is just 44% against a global average of 71%.
  • Indian Higher education is marred with the curse of plagiarism.
  • Government policies like paying graduate students cash incentives for publishing in the reputed journal creates a bias towards publishing than high quality science. Indian papers are cites lower compared to those in USA and China.
  • Our school system is focussed on rote-learning than critically thinking. It also affects the quality of research.
  • Poor quality infrastructure at institutes is also an issue.

Questions on Rankings:

  • Quantified rankings bring conflict between educational values and market values. Educational values focus on critical thinking, analytical abilities, social agendas and the inculcation of citizenship ideals that are unquantifiable and intangible While Market values are industry-driven, orients the project of neoliberal higher education training towards developing particular skill-sets for the labour market.
  • Rankins are leading to defunding of the public institutions where they are supposed to enhance the income from corporates. It has an attack on dissent, critical education, and any public institution that might exercise a democratising influence on the nation.
  • Rankings are one Size fits all model where they do not consider local cultures/societies.
  • Rankins increased focus in on research output fuelling the consumerism. It violates the basic principle of university: Teaching.
  • Focus on increased international exposure reduces opportunity for local regions.
  • Focus on publication has resulted in massification in research journals. Scams have been unearthed about fake journals providing no peer research support.

Steps taken to Improve Rankings:

  • Government initiated National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF). Under the NIRF, Educational Institutions are ranked by an independent ranking agency on the basis of objective criteria.
  • Imprint has been launched. Under the IMPRINT, the Government has taken the initiative to address major engineering challenges through the collaborative efforts of the IITs and Indian Institute of Science (IISc).
  • UcchatarAviskar Yojana (UAY) has been initiated. The objectives of UAY scheme are to promote innovation in IITs, addressing issues of manufacturing industries; to spur innovative mindset; to co-ordinate action between academia & industry and to strengthen labs & research facilities.
  • GIAN scheme facilitates partnership between Higher Educational Institutions of the country and other countries in order to tap international talent pool of scientists and entrepreneurs.