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Quest For Excellence: Developing World Class Indian Institutions

The rampant supply-demand gap in higher education, lacking academia-industry linkage, detachment of teaching from research, low PhD enrolments, weak research infrastructure, deficient innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem are the key challenges in the way of global presence of Indian higher education institutes.

India has a massive educational ecosystem for providing higher education, however, the quality of education and skill development is debated time and again. Despite, India is attributed to have one of the world’s largest higher education system, it lacks in terms of world-class institutions reflected through dismally low performance in global rankings. Even, developing countries are performing better compared to Indian institutes in world rankings of higher education institutions. 

The latest rankings (2022) by Times Higher Education (THE) and Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings; Indian institutions have not marked their presence in top 100 (Table 1). The major indicators of QS rankings include academic peer review, faculty-student ratio, citations per faculty, employer reputation, international student ratio, international staff ratio assigned differentiated weightage to different parameters. THE rankings include indicators like industry-income innovation, international diversity, teaching, research and citations. Whether it’s QS or THE rankings, Indian higher education institutions have performed inadequately, which can be observed through table 1.

Table 1: Comparative List of Rankings

THE World University Rankings*

QS World University Rankings*

Top Indian Institutes/Universities (THE Rankings)*

Top Indian Institutes/Universities (QS Rankings)*

University of Oxford, UK (1)

MIT, USA (1)

IISc, Bengaluru (301-350)

IIT Bombay (177)

California Institute of Technology, USA (2)

University of Oxford, UK (2)

IIT Ropar (351-400)

IIT Delhi (185) 

Harvard University, USA (2)

Stanford University, USA (3)

JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research (351-400)

IISc, Bengaluru (186)

 Stanford University, USA (4)

University of Cambridge, UK (3) 

IIT Indore (401-500) 

IIT Madras (255)

University of Cambridge, UK (5)

Harvard University, USA (5)


Alagappa University (501-600) 


IIT Kanpur (277)


MIT, USA (5)

California Institute of Technology (Caltech), USA (6)


Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, Patiala (501-600)

IIT Kharagpur (280)

Princeton University, USA (7) 

Imperial College London, UK (7)


BHU, Varanasi (601-800) 

IIT Guwahati (395)


University of California, Berkeley, USA(8) 

ETH Zurich- Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Switzerland (8)

Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai (601-800) 


IIT Roorkee (400)

Yale University, USA (9)

UCL, UK (8)

Delhi Technological University, Delhi (601-800)

University of Delhi (501-510)

The University of Chicago, USA(10)

The University of Chicago, USA (10)

IIT Gandhinagar (601-800)

JNU (561-570)

Source: Data compiled from THE World University Rankings-2022 and QS World University Rankings-2022; * Figures in bracket show World Ranking

The figures in the table demonstrate a skewed picture of the institutions across the globe, since, almost all the world-class institutions under top 10 are from the United States or the United Kingdom. In India, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi and Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru ranked globally at 177, 185 and 186 respectively (QS Ranking). Some other IITs have also marked their presence in the top 500. However, no Indian institute/university is in the top 100 list.

Government of India through its Ministry of Education (MoE) has initiated two major rankings for higher education institutions in India; National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) and Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA). The Ministry launched NIRF in 2015 in an attempt to create an extensive framework for ranking institutions of higher education in India on the parameters of Teaching, Learning and Resources, Research and Professional Practices, Graduation Outcomes, Outreach & Inclusivity and Perception. On the other end, ARIIA is a scheme for scientifically ranking all the leading higher educational institutions (HEIs), universities and colleges across India relying on parameters based on ‘Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development’. This is a unique ranking framework of HEIs across India to gauge the quality of innovation infrastructure and entrepreneurship. The broad parameters include mind-set development, teaching and learning, infrastructure and facilities, innovations developed, start-ups established, collaboration and investment, IP & commercialization, expenses and revenue and initiatives of MOE. Apart from initiating these rankings framework, National Education Policy (NEP)-2020 is another step towards educational reforms. These domestic ranking frameworks can be an impetus to motivate Indian institutions to restructure their approach and create environment for promoting high-quality research and innovation. Likewise, it will support to reorient the direction for domestic higher education institutions to develop in becoming globally competitive and emerge as world-class institutions. Government of India has recently declared 20 institutes/universities including 10 public and 10 private institutes as Institutions of Eminence (IoE) with a view to develop them as world-class institutions. 

Although, India has performed abysmally low in Times Higher Education or QS World University Rankings, especially on parameters of international faculty and students and global perception; the rankings itself has inherited fallacies. Whatsoever be the reasons for the low rankings of Indian institutions, a robust holistic strategy is needed to transform the Indian educational landscape at par with global standards. Collaborative research with world-class institutes/universities and cooperation with domestic research labs/institutions is lagging behind. Moreover, there is a wide gap between number of patents and its commercialization. Huge public expenditure is required in the higher education sector for creating research infrastructure to facilitate research, innovation, entrepreneurship and employability based on global needs.

The rampant supply-demand gap in higher education, lacking academia-industry linkage, detachment of teaching from research, low PhD enrolments, weak research infrastructure, deficient innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem are the key challenges in the way of the global presence of Indian higher education institutes. The outcome of the National Education Policy-2020 will be observed in a couple of years. However, structural reforms are the need of the hour to reorient the higher education institutions in the country to become centre of excellence. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house



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