Saturday, 16 February, 2019

THE rank of order

7 more Indian Universities made it to the Time Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2019 with new institutes outranking the older ones

11th October 2018, 04:42 Hrs

The Time Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings for the year 2019 was recently released in the last week of September drawing considerable media attention around the world. The THE Rankings were founded in 2004 and provides a definitive list of the world’s best universities based on a comprehensive evaluation methodology. The new list announced a rank order of 1,250 universities from across the world, out of which 49 are from India and unfortunately for us, none of the Indian universities made it to the top 250. The little consolation was that five Indian universities have grabbed a place in top 500.

As usual the top 10 places among the universities in the world are occupied by the US and the UK. Most of these universities have retained their position except Switzerland’s ETH Zurich slipping down to 11th position this year making a way for Yale University. Commendably for the third consecutive year, The University of Oxford in UK defended its first position and crowned the glory while University of Cambridge was listed second. The third place went to Stanford, followed by Massachusetts and the California Institutes of Technology in the fourth and fifth spots. Harvard, Princeton, Imperial College London and University of Chicago retained their place in the global top as usual.

The THE ranking assumes significance for it is based on one of the richest and deepest database containing hundreds of thousands of data points against 13 separate performance indicators. The present order covered 86 countries worldwide along with universities from Iraq, Jamaica, Nepal, Tanzania and Kazakhstan for the first time and employed a global Academic Reputation Survey of more than 20,000 leading scholars. In addition it collated over 60 million citations to more than 12.4 million academic journal articles from Elsevier’s Scopus database published over a five-year period.

On a positive note for India, 7 more Indian Universities have made it to the current 2019 list in comparison to 42 in the top 1500 last year and new institutes have outranked the older ones, making us the fifth most-represented country this year. Overall, the number of Indian higher education institutions marginally fell from 31 to 30 in the global 1,000 list. IISc Bangalore continues to remain on the top and has made it to the 251-300 rank band in the list however it seems that IISc Bangalore and IIT Delhi dropped by alteast one band.

More surprisingly, IIT Indore has made a grand debut and occupied the second position within India in THE Rankings 2019. Placed in the 351-400 band, IIT Indore which did not feature in last year’s rankings toppled IIT Bombay slipping from the 351-400 band to the 401-500 band and did also beat IIT Kharagpur and IIT Kanpur among others. IIT Delhi was knocked down to the 501-600 band from 401-500 band from 2017 rankings. IIT Kanpur fell from 401-500 to 501-600. Like IIT Indore, JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research is also a surprise entrant this year. It is placed in the 401-500 band. University of Delhi and Banaras Hindu University are placed in the same band of 601-800. Among private institutions, JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research is the best performer with 401-500 rank.

The other set of THE Ranking is THE Asia-University Rankings and are based on the same criteria and judged across all their core missions as the former but with deeper insights into the region to provide data on a wider range of institutions. Universities to top the THE Asia list with first three positions include, National University of Singapore, the Tsinghua University and the Peking University in China. 42 Indian universities have grabbed a place in top 350 of this list with relatively better performance compared to a total of 33 Indian institutions had secured a place in the top 300 list some three years back.

While India has been able to increase its representation in the list, much credit goes to the expansion of the table to include about 350 institutions in 2018. Unfortunately here too, many leading universities have slid in their rankings. IISc Bengaluru and IIT Bombay, which had higher positions before have dropped two spots each by securing 29th and 44th ranks this year. THE Asia University 2018 rankings have also seen two new entrants in the top 200 list Indian School of Mines (Rank 141) and Banaras Hindu University (Rank 194).

Leaving aside the debate on whether the rankings matter for later discussion, the order helps us conclude as to whom to trust as consistent providers of quality education in India. Our dream to figure in the world’s top-10 or for that matter Asia’s top 10; leave that, even top-20 for that matter seems too distant. Technically speaking India’s top institutions like that of the IISc Bangalore, IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi and IIT Kanpur have slipped from their former positions. Among those who figured in the THE overall list featuring institutions from India, around 14 have been IIT/NIT’s, 2 IISER’s and 8 Central Universities.

The significant contribution in enhancement of their order is from the 10 State-funded and around 15 Private universities in India. While the England based institutions continue to top the list the three essentially British creations; the Universities of Madras, Calcutta, and Bombay are nowhere to be seen even in The Asia Rankings and in comparison China, grabbed 5 of the Top 10 and 30 of the Top 100 positions indicating India is struggling to maintain its standing in the face of fierce competition from the eastern counterparts like China, Hong Kong and Singapore. So far the new rank of order only indicates the state of affairs in Indian universities is far from order.

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