Thursday, June 16, 2011

Indian universities' ranking in Asia slides

Not a single Indian university, including the much-famed and sought-after IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology), has fared well in an all-Asian varsity ranking for 2011. IIT-Bombay is the only one to figure in the world top 200, at 187, lower than the previous year's rank of 163.

The QS Asian University rankings reveal a pathetic performance by domestically high-rated varsities in the state, with the University of Mumbai pegged the worst, though it set aside funds to better its ranking this year. A university founded merely two decades ago — The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology — has topped the charts, defying critics who claim that long-established universities have an insuperable advantage. It not only raced past its veteran neighbour, Hong Kong University, but is also the youngest among the top 100 QS World Ranking Asian Universities.

The University of Cambridge got a perfect 100, topping the world chart. "We are doing better than earlier. But at other places, they are improving a lot faster than us. So, we are not static; the number of publications has gone up and research funding has also improved," said IIT-Bombay Director Devang Khakhar. About IIT-Bombay's rank, he said they had done "slightly worse" because student strength had gone up, but faculty numbers had not increased correspondingly. All the seven old IITs have made it to the Asian universities ranking, but their ranks have slid.

"Internationalization takes up 20% of the points. But we are not international; neither do we have international students nor do we have foreign faculty members. In terms of funds, China and Korea are higher than us. Lastly, we don't have medicine and law. So we lose points there too. We are starting off with a handicap," said IIT-Madras Director M.S. Ananth. "In terms of funding and opening doors for foreigners, China has taken right steps." "Hong Kong's continued strong showing in the Asian rankings, with four universities in the top 20 and all six in the top 50, contrasts with continuing disappointment for mainland China," noted the analysis.

Although Peking and Tsinghua universities remain in the top 20, China has only 14 universities in the first 100, having made marginal progress since last year. The much smaller system in South Korea outperforms China. It has four institutions in the top 20, led by Seoul National University, and 16 in the top 100.

However, Richard Holmes, a frequent commentator on rankings, writing in University World News, had a different take, saying more Japanese universities were falling than rising, while Chinese and Korean varsities were on the rise. "This could be part of a permanent shift in the world balance of academic power."

Source: The Times of India, June 16, 2011

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