Understanding University Rankings – Rohit Wadhwaney

Rohit Wadhwaney - Managing-Editor - Education Post

I was no topper. College rankings never mattered to me. But somehow, they do. Mostly to the crème de la crème with several options to study in whichever educational institute they find worthy.

It might be shocking, but there are 500 universities in India that claim to be in the Top 50. Mind you, I am only talking about Indian organizations that are in the business of ranking universities. Globally, some of the most respected Indian universities figure nowhere – not in the Top 100 at least. There is a reason for that. International calculation methods to rank universities are wildly different.

There are dozens of university-ranking organizations in India. But only a handful are registered, and their ranking methodologies are transparent and authentic. It’s only apt to name them. Aside from IIRF, the government-run National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) is arguably one of the most believable. Then there’s Business World, India Today, Outlook, The Week and Times’ OMS.

That’s it. The rest – they number in the 50s – could very well be a façade.

Let’s face it. When we are entering college, the rank of a particular college is hardly playing on our minds. It’s mostly the reputation.

“I am not saying that they (rankings) are rigged. The intention is good, but they should be made more inclusive and comprehensive, considering Indian context,” says a top academician at Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS).

“Take the NIRF rankings for instance. BITS, being a private university, is not ranked too high because the people sitting on the ranking committee are mostly from public universities. Regardless, BITS always gets the cream,” he adds.

It’s only fair to hear it from a topper, who wishes to remain anonymous. “When I chose to study in Pune, the primary factor was to choose a university outside my home city in order to experience university life in a new and different city. So, the ranking was not a driving factor per se. So, I didn’t really care about the ranking of Symbiosis. I had only heard about the image and reputation of Symbiosis as a university, and had heard good things about their faculty. I was never involved intensely in the rankings of universities.”

Here’s the last word. Whether or not you, as students, care about rankings, they provide a “gold standard, a benchmark, to the academic institutes to understand where they stand vis-a-vis to other peers in terms of various pillars of academia,” says the BITS professor.


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