Wednesday, April 04, 2018

India's top institutions - NIRF 2018

Maintaining its dominance for the third consecutive year, the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore leads the list of top institutions in the overall and university categories, according to the National Institution Ranking Framework (NIRF) rankings for 2018.

IISc Bangalore is followed by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi and IIT Kharagpur – the top five on the overall list. Delhi’s Jawaharlal University (JNU) holds on to its sixth position, while Anna University, Chennai is a new entrant in the top 10.

NIRF is the only national ranking framework for the country’s higher education institutions. The rankings were introduced by the government in 2016. In the first year, NIRF had four categories of educational institutions -- universities, engineering, management and pharmacy. Two more categories -- overall and college -- were added the following year. This year, another three categories have been included -- medical and dental colleges (single category), law and architecture -- making it a total of nine categories. Some 3,000 applications were received in 2017 -- a number that in 2018 touched close to 4,000.

University category: IISc Bangalore, which was number one in 2017, bags the top spot this year. JNU Delhi is in second place while Banaras Hindu University (Varanasi) is third -- both retain their positions from the previous year.

College category: Delhi University dominates this category, with five of its colleges featured in the top 10 list. Miranda House continues to be the top ranked college in the country, followed by St Stephens in second place. Hindu College (4th), Shri Ram College of Commerce (7th) and Lady Shri Ram College (8th) are the others that make it to the top 10.

Engineering category: Chennai can boast of the having the best engineering college, with IIT-Madras number one for the third year in a row. The IITs, as expected, bag eight of the top 10 engineering slots.

Management category: The top four IIMs – Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta and Lucknow – predictably corner the glory, followed by IIT-Bombay at fifth rank.

Pharmacy and Architecture: National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Mohali is the premier pharmacy institute, while IIT Kharagpur makes it to another list -- it’s the number one architecture institute in the country.

Medical category: Premier healthcare institute All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS, Delhi) tops the list while Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER Chandigarh) is number two.

Law: The top spot goes to a Bengaluru university once again -- the National Law School of India (NLSIU), followed by the National Law University in Delhi.

States, Cities look at rankings closely
The rankings are important since they reflect the quality of education, encourage competition and help set new benchmarks of performance in the higher education space.

Chennai, in particular, has reason to be proud. Recognizing its academic achievements, Anna University is 10th in the overall category. It’s also moved to fourth place from last year’s sixth rank on in the university list. IIT-Madras is another feather in the city’s cap -- it’s ranked the best engineering college in the country and retains its second position in the overall category.

Sunil Paliwal, state higher education secretary, noted how Tamil Nadu was way ahead of other states in the NIRF 2018 list. “The state government has been urging authorities to give importance to NIRF and NAAC accreditation in all the meetings of vice-chancellors and regional joint directors held in the last one year. That is why a greater number of government colleges participated this year and it is paying dividends now.”

Mumbai’s performance has, however, not been up to par. Only six institutes from the city make it to the top 200 under the overall institutions category and St Xavier's is the only one to figure among the country's top 100 colleges, although its rank dropped from 40 to 74. IIT-Bombay has managed to retain its position as the country's third best institute. The Powai institute also ranked as the second best engineering institute and fifth in the management category in India after institutes such as NMIMS and SP Jain. Unsurprisingly, Mumbai University did not figure in the top 100 universities in the country. In fact, the university's position dropped from the 101-150 band down to 151-200.

West Bengal is doing better - seven institutes from the state are among the top 50. IIT-Kharagpur leads from the state and is ranked fifth, followed by Jadavpur University (13th position), Calcutta University, IIM-Calcutta, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Kalyani and Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Shibpur – all of which are in the top 50.

Punjab and Haryana also make their mark. Five Punjab varsities and one from Haryana are among the top 100. Panjab University is the best university in the region with an overall ranking of 33, while Patiala’s Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology ranked 50th and IISER Mohali, is close behind at 55th spot.

In Telangana, four institutions figure in the top 100 under the overall category -- University of Hyderabad at No.11, IIT-Hyderabad at number 22, the 100-year-old Osmania University at number 45 and the National Institute of Technology (Warangal) at the 78th position.

Nalsar University of Law is meanwhile ranked third among the top law institutions of the country. Elated with the ranking, Balakista Reddy, registrar of Nalsar, said: “We are proud to be among the top three law institutions in the country. To maintain our position as one of the best institutions, we intend to launch innovative courses in aviation, space, telecommunication, cyber security, defence laws, GIS remote sensing which no other institution offers.”

Rajasthan, however, failed to register a significant presence in the NIRF rankings, The saving grace for the state are its two institutes which made into the list of top 100 in the prestigious ‘overall’ category—Birla Institute of Technology, Pilani (26th) and Banasthali Vidhyapith, Niwai (91st).

Commenting on the poor show, higher education expert Puneet Sharma remarked, “Out of 210 institutes which made into the list of all nine categories, only five from Rajasthan tells a poor story from a state which boasts of an upcoming education hub.”

In Assam, in the all-important overall category where all participating institutes have been adjudged, Tezpur University with a rank of 46 and Gauhati University with a rank of 61 have secured berths in the top 100. In the engineering category, IIT-Guwahati is in seventh place.

Why the rankings are important
The rankings assume significance as the performance of institutions is linked with the “Institutions of Eminence” scheme, under which 20 institutions both public and private will selected and actively supported to come up in the global rankings. Universities in the IoE group are expected to break into the ranks of the world’s top 500 universities in 10-15 years and eventually into the top 100.

The selected universities will enjoy unprecedented administrative and financial autonomy in a wide range of matters, including freedom to admit foreign students up to 30% of admitted students; recruit foreign faculty up to 25% of faculty strength; offer online courses up to 20% of its programmes and enter into academic collaboration with top 500 ranked institutions in the world without permission of the University Grants Commission.

They will also be free to fix and charge fees from foreign students without restriction; have flexibility of course structure in terms of number of credit hours and years to take a degree. as well as complete flexibility in fixing of curriculum and syllabus, etc.

The HRD ministry has made is mandatory for public institutions to participate from from next year. Emphasizing that the ministry was serious, Javadekar said, “Those public institutions which will not take part in it will face fund cuts.”

Apart from government institutions, National Board of Accreditation sources said a large number of private higher education institutions, who were not part of the process earlier, have joined the rankings this year.

NIRF Parameters
To make the process more transparent, NIRF has outlined its methodology to rank institutions across the country, drawing from a general understanding of the overall recommendations arrived at by a core committee set up by HRD ministry.
Five broad parameters were established:
1. Teaching, Learning & Resources
This includes student strength including doctoral students; faculty-student ratio with emphasis on permanent faculty; combined metric for faculty with PhD (or equivalent) and experience; and total budget and its utilisation.
2. Research and Professional Practice
This includes combined metric for publications; combined metric for quality of publications; IPR and patents: filed, published, granted and licensed (IPR); and footprint of projects and professional practice and executive development programs (FPPP).
To promote R&D in higher education, this parameter was given the highest weightage of 40%
3. Graduation Outcomes
This comprises combined percentage for placement, higher studies and entrepreneurship (GPHE); metric for university examinations; median salary; metric for graduating students admitted Into top universities; and metric for number of Ph.D. students graduated.
4. Outreach and Inclusivity
Includes percentage of students from other states/countries (region diversity); percentage of women on campus; economically and socially challenged students; and facilities for physically challenged students.
5. Perception
Includes peer perception in terms of employers and research investors, academics and competitiveness.

Ranking controversies
But although these parameters appear comprehensive, institutions have raised objections in connection with the methodology. They claim the process lacks transparency. They also feel the parameters are not comparable in different types of institutions.

Some institutes feel the rankings go against the grain of their perceived reputations. They also claim government institutes get preferential treatment. Globally, ranking agencies are usually independent. In India, however, the NIRF is backed by the government’s Ministry for Human Resource Development.

Source: The Times of India, New Delhi (Online edition), April 4, 2018

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