The Ministry of Human Resource and Development (HRD) is gearing to launch a framework to asses the Nation’s best and worst higher education institutes/universities in a government-approved Ranking portal, by this month. These Rankings are an attempt to uplift Indian institutes, on the global map for the best higher education, a field where Indian institutes find no position, at least in the best 200 universities.

Here’s a brief flashback of the events that has led the HRD ministry to the consequent decision:

Times higher education’s world higher university rankings 2014-15, released in September 2014, had no Indian Institute among its first 200, and barely four Indian institutes made it to the range of 276-400. Phil Batty, the editor of Times Higher Education world rankings reflected upon India’s performance as,  “The world rankings are extremely competitive, as many countries put serious resources into improving the global profile and performance of their universities as part of their economic growth plans, and India needs to ensure it does not fall too far behind.”

In December 2014, the issue was also raised in the Parliament, and more recently President Mukherjee also expressed concern over Indian Institutions not making it to International lists. In line with these concerns, the HRD ministry has decided to come out with a national- ranking framework which will bring together all the state run- and private run institutes on the same platform, to compete on a global footing. The framework seeks to cover all institutes of India providing higher education in any discipline. A special committee comprising of the country’s best academicians and professionals such as the National Board of Accreditation Chairman Surendra Prasad, IIT-Kharagapur Director PP Chakraborty, IIT-Madras Director Bhaskar Ramamurthi, have brainstormed to design the framework, which they have sent across to the HRD ministry for the final approval.

Smriti.Irani_

HRD Minsiter Smriti Irani. (Image Source: newseastwest.com)

These rankings will be monitored on a web-based portal where each institute will have to issue relevant information about their institution. An inspection committee system would also be set up to ensure authenticity and legitimacy of this information. The dictating parameters on the basis of which an institute will be ranked are: teaching-learning; research; professional performance; graduate outcomes; placements, outreach etc.

This ‘Indian-centric system’ will  also take into account the factors which are country-specific, such as ensuring the universities are as inclusive as possible, through providing reservations and privileges to the disadvantaged and look into the percentage of out-station students enrolled. However, Mohd. Taha Yasin, Ad-hoc, English Department, Ram Lal Anand College, University of Delhi, chooses to reflect upon the issue thus, “On the one hand it rightly emphasises on inclusive education through reservation, but at the same time it brings together both state run and private institutions. Now the question is: whether the modules of reservation as exemplified by the Honourable Supreme Court, is followed by both State-run and private institutions in the same way? The answer is an obvious no, in such case the parameters of judgement and ranking itself becomes uneven”. Therefore, the grounds of the proposed “inclusive” education must thoroughly be assessed in the project.

While its seen as a welcome idea to have a Government-recognised ranking system for all higher educational institutions, it must also be ensured that these rankings induces only the positive effect that it is expected to generate, which is to help the institutions big or small, to rectify their shortcomings and work on it. To ensure a healthy competition and check the entailment of any filthy hierarchy among these institutions, would be among the first challenges the HRD ministry will encounter. If Indian institutions want to emerge a world class destinations for institutions for higher education, it must correct its short-comings, but simultaneously, it must not get blind itself in the yearning of the much coveted ‘Global’ rank. The focus, first and foremost should be on the enhancement of the Indian education system as a whole.

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