Challenges in NIRF: Recast this apples-and-oranges ranking method

News: Ranking of state-run Higher Education Institutes (HEI) with centrally funded institutes (CFI) like IIT’s under the National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF) is not a good step.

What is National Institution Ranking Framework?
Read here: National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)
Why it is not a good step to rank both state-run HEI and CFI altogether?

Allocation of financial resources: According to a study, there are 184 CFI, to which the Government of India allocates its financial resources. While, in comparison, State public universities didn’t receive adequate financial resources. This is after the fact, that out of total school enrolment, the number of graduates is largest in the state public universities.

No level playing field:  State-run HEI often struggles with the resources. Also, no cost-benefit analysis of State versus centrally funded HEI was done by any agency on economic indicators like return on investment government made into them.

Parameters: State-run HEI is also lagging among the different parameters on which NIRF ranked. These parameters are:

1) Adequate faculty strength, Learning and resources: This is because of continuous retirement, and low recruitment, which further weakened the student-teacher ratio.

2) Research and Professional Practice: Laboratories of State-run HEI are often lacking in modernized infrastructure and also not meeting the market demand.

Also, in spite of more share of Ph.D. students (29.8%) in State-Run HEI in comparison with institutes of National Importance(23.2%), central universities(13.6%), fewer funds have been received by them.

Emerging Technologies: State HEIs are struggling to embrace emerging technologies involving artificial intelligence, machine learning etc, while CFI has this facility.

So, NIRF should plan an appropriate mechanism to rate the output and the performance of institutes in light of their constraints and the resources available to them.

Source: This post is based on the article “Recast this apples-and-oranges ranking method” published in The Hindu on 4th December 2021.

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