Indian Higher Education System in Global Perspective(Part-1): Professor Swapan Bhattacharya,Former Director, NIT Durgapur and NITK Surathkal,Former Professor, Dept. of Comp. Sc. & Engg., Jadavpur University,Former Sr. Research Associate, National Research Council, USA

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National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) operating under Ministry of Education (MoE), Govt. of India has recently published the rankings of various Higher Education Institutes (HEI) of India for the year 2023.  At the outset, team-NIRF deserves huge accolade for carrying out this task every year for last several years – and coming out with the deliverables on schedule every time.  List of Institutes within NIRF has now attained reasonable amount of stability, and hence, it is worth getting deeper into the deliberations and try to find out where we stand in global perspective.  This is precisely the focus of this article.

For international rankings, we consider QS – which as a framework is accepted all over the world for its dependability. In particular, objective data available from NIRF-2023 and QS-2023 are considered here.

Here are some of the findings (a representative snapshot made with data outside USA, UK, Canada, Australia, European countries and so on).

  1. #1 Institute (IIT-Madras) in overall category of NIRF-2023 ranks 250 in QS-2023.
  2. #1 Institute (IISc, Bangalore) in university category of NIRF-2023 ranks 155 in QS-2023.
  3. QS does not differentiate between ‘University’ and ‘Over-all’ as two different categories.  Same consolidated list of QS has been referred to for comparison of university category and over all category of NIRF.
  4. On a scale of 100, points obtained by Top 5 Institutes in QS-2023 are as follows
    MIT – 100; Oxford – 99.5; Stanford – 98.7;    Cambridge – 98.7; Harvard- 98.
    IISc, Bangalore – 49.5 (Rank – 155) and IITM – 38.6 (Rank – 250).
  5. India does not have any of its Institutions within Top 150 in QS-2023.
  6. China has 2 Institutes within Top 20; 6 Institutes within Top 50
    Singapore has 2 Institutes in Top 20
    South Korea has 2 Institutes in Top 50; 5 Institutes in Top 100
    Hong Kong has 2 Institutes in Top 50; 4 Institutes in Top 100
    Malaysia has 1 Institute in Top 100; 4 Institutes in Top 150
    Chili has 2 Institutes within Top 150; Brazil has 1 Institute within 150
  7. Indian Institutes ranked within Top 200 in QS-2023:
    IISc, Bangalore – 155 (49.5 points); IIT, Mumbai – 172 (46.7 points);
    IIT, Delhi – 174 (46.5 points).

Let us now try to observe now the great institutions at international level perform across various dimensions of studies.  QS performs faculty-wise detailing of the institutional ranks as well.  Here is a snapshot on relative ranking of such great institutes in various prime faculties.

OverallNatural SciencesLife Sciences & MediceEngg. & Technology Arts & Humanities
1.MIT24112
2.Oxford5243
3.Stanford4534
4.Cambridge3632
5.Harvard1181

IIT-Bombay, IIT-Delhi, IIT-Madras, IIT-Kharagpur and IIT-Kanpur at ranks 47, 48, 68, 82 and 85 respectively are only Indian Institutes to find places within Top-1000 places in QS-2023 for the faculty of Engineering and Technology.

Several international institutes are specifically known for their expertise in some particular faculty – and such phenomenon is reflected in their ranking as well.  As for example, Johns Hopkins University is ranked #3 in the faculty of Life Science & Medicine and ranked #24 overall (which in any case, is also very good).

However, no Indian Institute could find some place within Top-100 in Qs-2023 list of ranks by the faculties of Natural Science, Life Science & Medicine and Arts & Humanities.

NIRF does not perform analysis exclusively for Natural Science, Life Science & Medicine and Arts & Humanities – and hence equivalent study at national level cannot be made.

At individual level, many Indian alumni have been doing quite well in academia in great institutes all over the world for previous many decades.  However, it is evident that much still needs to be done at the institute and systemic level – and it is imperative to perform some comprehensive analysis on the basis of the information presented in this article together with present practices in India – and then, come up with a draft note on the set of concrete steps to be taken for development of a road map to improve global competitiveness of our Higher Education Institutes. 

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