Wednesday, March 05, 2014

IIT as unified entity can break into Top 100

If the 16 Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are ranked as one institution, IIT will be among the top 100 universities in the world, an analysis by Careers360 magazine claims. According to an article in the magazine’s March issue, to be released on today, the IIT system as one entity could be ranked 61 in a listing of the world’s best universities. The article argues that this could serve as both motivation and pressure for Indian schools to do better. No Indian school is in the top 200 in any of the world’s education rankings.

The authors of “IITs@61: System Breaks into Global Ranking” used the methodology of the Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings and said IIT does stand a chance to be among the top 100 in the world in the areas of funding, learning or research. While the article’s authors argued for making all IITs one legal unit on the lines of the University of California and its campuses, global rankings do not count the American institution and its various branches as one entity.

“It is by no means the case that entry into the ranking as a single entity would have the effects suggested by this article — most of our indicators are scaled for a university’s size, so under our methodology, big does not automatically mean best. Some of the most successful institutions in the rankings are small, dynamic and focused, such as Caltech,” said Phil Baty, Editor of Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

California Institute of Technology (Caltech) retained its number one position in the October 2013 World University Rankings for the third consecutive year.

Careers360 finds international research citations and collaboration in the IIT system to be weak. To be sure, there is great variation among the IITs and the authors point out that among the 16, the top seven at Bombay, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur, Khargpur, Madras and Roorkee, are among the best universities in the world.

For example, in the area of international expertise in faculty, IIT-Bombay’s 14% does not help as the entire IIT system’s international faculty makes up less than 2% of its teachers. The analysis also suggests that the IIT system is not as deficient in research output as perceived.

The article said, “While in terms of the number of doctorates, the IIT system would rank near 30-40 in the global order, in terms of the ratio of PhDs to undergraduate plus postgraduate students, IITs are actually comparable to the top 20.” Still, winning a unified ranking could take some doing, said one expert.

The Planning Commission’s higher education adviser Pawan Agarwal said it may not even be possible given the IITs are very different from multi-campus institutions. It is, however, heartening to see, in all areas other than international students and faculty, IITs together compare well with the top institutions around the world, he added.

The IITs are supervised by a Council that is chaired by the Union minister for human resource development and has the chairmen and directors of all IITs as its members. However, each of the IITs is legally separate and its board is responsible for general superintendence, control and direction of its affairs under the Institutes of Technology law. 

“Each one of the IITs has a distinct identity and we should aim to have each one of them in the top 100 universities of the world,” Agarwal said. According to Baty, “the only real way to rise up the rankings is to make real progress in improving research quality and improving the teaching environment — this comes from true reform and improvement, not through manipulating data submissions”.

India added three institutions to the top 400 of the global higher education rankings. Panjab University was the top-ranked Indian institution and was placed between 226 and 250 in the Times rankings. IIT-Delhi, IIT-Kanpur, IIT-Kharagpur and IIT-Roorkee, were ranked in the 351-400 range. Panjab University, IIT-Delhi and IIT-Kanpur are the new entrants.

Source: Mint, March 5, 2014

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