NIRF ranking does not give full picture of higher education in India

Synopsis: Recently released NIRF ranking showcased its limitation in comparison to other global rankings.


Ministry of Education has released National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF) 2021. Various lacunas are visible in the structuring of this ranking, which makes the ranking impactless.

Read more: Fund and Faculty count in higher education rankings
What are the different ranking institutes worldwide?

There are at least 20 global ranking agencies that measure quality on various parameters.

The Centre for Science and Technology Studies at Leiden University: It maintains European and worldwide rankings of the top 500 universities based on the number and impact of Web of Science-indexed publications per year.

QS World University Ranking: It is published annually since 2004. In 2009, QS even launched the QS Asian University Rankings in partnership with the Chosun Ilbo newspaper in South Korea.

Ranking of Rankings: It is launched in 2017. It aggregates the results of five global rankings, combining them to form a single rank. It uses THE World University Ranking (22.5%), QS World University Ranking (22.5%), US News Best Global University (22.5%), Academic Ranking of World Universities (22.5%), and Reuters World Top 100 Innovative Universities (10%).

What are the issues associated with NIRF rankings?

Parameters: Present NIRF ranking missed the important parameters which need to be included in the list. For example, the ranking doesn’t include the financial health and size of the institution as a criterion. It also doesn’t include financial benefits accrued to the stakeholders, especially the students.

One size fits all approach: There is huge diversity in our education system. Universities are ranging in various levels like research-based, language-based, innovation-based technology social science institutes, etc. The boundary conditions in which they operate are also very different. But, the NIRF is making the same mistake that the global ranking system was once accused of i.e to rank all the universities on the same level.

Disengagement: Disconnect is clearly visible between the ranking and accreditation. Several universities have earned a National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) A Grade but figure poorly in the ranking system. NIRF should take into consideration both things.

Our Accreditation and ranking approach is not up to the mark. India can adopt the model of the USA i.e accreditation and Quality Assurance (QA). In it, stakeholders are allowed to sue the universities if they are not able to deliver what they claim. A Bill to introduce such accountability was introduced in 2011, but it never saw the light of day.

Read more: Higher education in India & QS World University Rankings- Explained, pointwise

What is the way forward?

There are two main factors that differentiate us from the global ranking systems are our lack of international faculty and students and the inadequacy of our research to connect with the industry. International students/faculty will come to India if they will see some quality in our institutions. Similarly, Industry connect will happen only when the research translates into improved or new processes and products

For this to happen, NIRF should bring top experts not only from India but from outside also in its core committees.

Source: This post is based on the article “NIRF ranking does not give full picture of higher education in India” published in Indian Express on 6th October 2021.

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