About NIRF rankings 2022: Rankings that make no sense

Source: The post is based on the article “Rankings that make no sense” published in The Hindu on 10th August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education.

Relevance: About the concerns associated with NIRF ranking.

News: Recently the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)’s ranking of higher education institutions (HEIs) has been released.

What are the key highlights of the rankings?
Read here: Union Education Minister Releases India Rankings 2022 of higher educational institutes
How one can understand NIRF ranking data is flawed?

Firstly, generally, students who cannot secure a seat in national law universities (NLUs) are admitted to private institutions. Similarly, private universities and institutions are the last choices for those looking for a career in academia. This is clearly visible from Common Law Admission Test admissions.

But according to NIRF, some private multi-discipline institutions are ranked higher than many prestigious NLUs and law departments.

Secondly, while the National Assessment and Accreditation Council gives due weightage to publications in UGC-Care listed journals, the NIRF uses publication data only from Scopus and Web of Science.

Read more: Fund and Faculty count in higher education rankings
Why there might be data fudging in NIRF’s ranking framework?

There is a Lack of a rigorous system for verification of details submitted by HEIs by the NIRF. For instance, a) Evidences suggests that some private multi-discipline universities have claimed the same faculty in more than one discipline, b) there are irregularities in financial resources utilisation reports (spending on library, academic facilities, etc.) by multi-discipline institutions, c) Research grants and consultancy charges received in one discipline appear to have been claimed by other departments.

Apart from that, the NIRF applies almost the same parameters to all the institutions across varied disciplines in research and professional practice.

Read more: Challenges in NIRF: Recast this apples-and-oranges ranking method
How does the institutions violated transparency?

The NIRF requires the data submitted to it has to be published by all the participating HEIs on their website so that such data can be scrutinised. This didn’t occur because,

1) Some private multi-discipline universities have not granted free access to such data on their website. Such non-transparency is antithetical to the ranking exercise, 2) The data uploaded on the websites omit details on the number, name, qualification and experience of the faculty.

Hence, severe methodological and structural issues in the NIRF undermine the ranking process. The methodology must be revised in consultation with all the stakeholders.

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