Thursday, March 12, 2015

No Indian university in global rankings

Not a single Indian university has made it to the prestigious world reputation rankings 2015. India with its great intellectual history and growing economic power does not have a single university that is regarded by academics globally as being among the world's most prestigious, according to the Times Higher Education (THE) rankings released on Thursday. Indian Institute of Science (IISc) is the highest-ranked institution in the country, though it doesn't figure in the world's top 100.

The rankings is the world's largest invitation only survey of academics. Times Higher Education distributes the survey in 15 languages to over 10,500 academics in 142 countries.

According to the 2015 list, Harvard in the US is the world's top university followed by UK's University of Cambridge (2nd) and the University of Oxford (3rd) which displaces Massachusetts Institute of Technology by one rank (4th). Stanford in the US is placed at fifth position and the University of California Berkley is sixth. The rest of the top 10 is made up of US institutions: Princeton University (7th), Yale University (8th), California Institute of Technology (9th) and Columbia University (10th).

London and Paris are tied for top spot as the world cities with the highest number of top ranked universities. US dominated the list with 43 universities in the top 100. UK has the second highest number of representatives in the top 100: 12 up from 10 last year and nine in 2013.

In an interview to TOI, Phil Baty, editor of Times Higher Education Rankings said, "It is really a matter of concern that a country of India's great intellectual history does not have a single university that is regarded by academics globally as being among the world's most prestigious. Brazil, Russia and China - the other great BRIC nations, have at least one top 100 university in this list".

Mr Baty added "At this stage the best performing Indian institutions in the reputation rankings are the Indian Institute of Technology (IITs) --- they have a strong reputation across the world. However, they are still not receiving enough nominations to make it into the top 100. India needs to support its leading institutions". According to him, strong universities are crucial for the success of developing nations - helping to retain top talent in the country and prevent brain drain, attract investment, develop highly skilled future leaders and create new knowledge and drive the knowledge economy.

Mr Baty explained to TOI how the survey was conducted. To be invited to take part, academics have to be published in a leading academic journal and respondents have an average of 15 years working in higher education. They are asked to nominate no more than 10 institutions that - in their expert opinion - they believe to be performing the most strongly for teaching and research.

"In total, we received over 10,000 responses when we carried out the survey last month. This study is based entirely on a survey of academic opinion, where leading scholars around the world name which institutions are strongest in teaching and research. For the 2015 table, the most responses were from the US (15.8%) followed by China (10.6%) and Japan (7.2%). There were 5.6% responses from the UK and 5.5% from Russia".

Mr Baty added to TOI "There is no way of knowing why these academics are not nominating Indian institutions enough. It could be because Indian institutes are not attracting enough international students or staff, collaborating with overseas universities enough, or publishing enough research papers in English --- the global language".

"All of these factors can influence a university's reputation, so it is likely that by improving their international outlook Indian institutions can not only improve through sharing best practice globally and drawing on the global talent pool, they can also improve how they are perceived by the global academic community. Ultimately the only way to improve in the world reputation rankings is to ensure that scholars across the world recognise you as an excellent teaching and research institution," he added.

Could it be because most academics don't know about Indian institutes? "Yes and no. The survey is representative at a local and global level and based on UN data, so if the academics are not nominating Indian Institutions it is likely because they have chosen not to, not because they are not aware of them," Mr Baty added.

Meanwhile universities in the 'golden triangle' of London, Oxford and Cambridge continued to rank highly. Imperial College London was 14th, University College London moved up from 25th to 17th, the London School of Economics and Political Science rose two places to 22nd, King's College London jumped 12 places from 43rd to 31st and the London Business School was ranked 91-100. King's is one of the rising stars of the rankings, after moving up from the 61-70 band in 2013. The UK also saw two new entrants to the top 100: Warwick and Durham universities both entered in the 81-90 group.

Germany remains the best-represented nation after the US and the UK, with six top 100 universities (the same as last year). France now boasts five institutions in the table (all of them based in Paris), up from two last year.

Asia’s best performer, the University of Tokyo, slipped one place to 12th position. China’s top institution, Tsinghua University, climbed 10 places to 26th, and Peking University leaped from 41st to 32nd place.

Sources: The Times of India; Mint; The Economic Times; March 12, 2015
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