[Answered] Analyze the impact of the current ranking process on the competition among universities and colleges in India. Does it foster a culture that puts metrics ahead of excellence in education and research?

Introduction: Define NIRF.

Body: What is its impact and does it foster a culture that puts metrics ahead of excellence?

Conclusion: Conclude with the way forward.

The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) was established in 2016 by the Ministry of Education to determine the indicators on which higher education institutions (HEI) performance could be measured. NIRF rankings are based on 5 important factors namely; Teaching, Learning & Resources, Research and Professional Practice, Graduation Outcomes, Outreach, and Inclusivity and Perception.

What is the impact of rankings on competition among universities?

  • Financial health: It is observed that institutions with high ranks get more priority in central grants. In the Union Budget 2021, the government allocation was Rs 7,686 crore to the IITs in comparison to Rs 7,643.26 crore for all Central Universities.
  • One size fits all approach: NIRF seems to miss the diversity aspect of the Indian educational system. The diversity ranges from old institutes vs new institutes, private vs public, and arts institutes vs technology institutes which is a very important factor to acknowledge.
  • The mismatch between ranking and accreditation: Colleges and universities compete to get NAAC, and NBA certificates but final results show a poor disconnect as colleges with NAAC A grades are also left out in the ranking system.
  • Bibliometrics: To get good score in NIRF colleges and universities are relying too much on the bibliometrics factor where there is too much reliance on publishing research papers which does not fully capture the scientific performance.
  • Privileges: the impact of rankings can be gauged from the fact that high rankings bring privileges like getting autonomy, the power to offer open and distance mode programs, and permission to enter into collaboration with foreign universities.

Does it foster a culture of metrics ahead of excellence?

  • Indicators: Among other factors used in NIRF rankings Research and Professional Practice factor has the highest share (30%) in combined score. This factor is paid special attention because of bibliometrics or the publishing of research papers.
  • Funds and faculty: There should be sufficient funds and teacher-pupil ratio to assess the parity among different institutes. Eg. IISc, with 464 faculty members for 4,000 students, has a faculty ratio of 1:8.6 and receives about Rs 350 crore in central grants, BHU with 2,000 teachers for 32,000 students has a ratio of 1:16 and receives a grant of about Rs 200 crore.
  • Transparency issues: Reputed foreign journals have cited discrepancies in research quality and quantity of journals published in Indian universities.


NIRF ranking plays a vital role in helping students, faculty, and prospective employer, to help them choose institutions for admission, enhance chances for securing research funding, and target campuses for hiring. Two important factors which need to be factored in NIRF are international faculty and students and the relationship of research to connect with the industry.

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