Rankings and league tables acting as the ‘underlying platforms of marketing activity and canvassing’ for institutions in this globalized era, is one of the widespread criticisms in the academic circles. This criticism is not completely unfounded as many HEIs across the world are investing both ways in these rankings to move upward in the table.
In India, public institutions of higher education particularly run by central government, have been the HEIs of choice for all students even after they schooled at high-end private schools. And, alumni quality of these institutions has been truly world-class. But despite possessing such reputation and academic rigor, these HEIs failed to register in world rankings of different foreign agencies.
This situation led to a rethink and rankings began to become a serious business and Indian HEIs finally opened up and realized their weak links of making their data points available and accessible. Parallelly, the Ministry of Education instituted India Rankings and as such in a sort of coercive action finally most of the HEIs in India have woken up to importance and ways of rankings.
India, now the most populous country in the world, is also the 3rd largest higher education system in the world after USA and China. With NEP 2020 setting a target of 50% GER by 2035 and Government launching a vision of achieving self-reliance and developed country status in next 25 years, India’s higher education market both inbound and outbound is a growth market. So, naturally rankers have developed their interest in India.
This was reflected in the recently released (June 27) QS World University Rankings 2024 by UK-based Quacquarelli Symonds (QS). This year for the first time 45 Indian Institutions have got ranked in QS World University Ranking. What is interesting in these results is that while the rankings, be it the top or otherwise tend to remain consistent over a period of time with standard upsets of a few steps of fall or rise, here a private university, which last year, celebrated with all possible events, advertisements and hoardings its number one private university status, this year fell steeply by over 200 ranking positions. Not surprising this university for a long time has been patronizing Qs-iguage in India.
This year, another little known university, Shoolini University of Biotechnology and Management Sciences, Solan (Himachal) has claimed the number one spot and though all indications are that the university has done a lot of good work, still the consistency in future edition will judge if QS is working honestly in India.
While raising this suspicion is necessary, it is equally must to look at the snapshot of QS World University Rankings 2024 and what message does it convey?
IIT Bombay breaks into 150 top universities rankings for the first time at #149 and Asia # 1 to become country’ first top ranking university to get into this band. Its ranking moved significantly from previous year’s rank of #177. The IITs on expected lines are dominating this list and include IIT Delhi (#197), IIT Kharagpur (# 271), IIT Kanpur (#278), IIT Madras (#285), IIT Guwahati (364), IIT Roorkee (#369), IIT Indore (# 454), IIT BHU Varanasi (#571), IIT Hyderabad (691-700), IIT Bhubaneswar (731-740). The biggest setback, however, is Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, slipping to #225 from #155 last year. Among the universities, the University of Delhi (ranked #407) and Anna University at # 427 enter the first 500 list of top universities under these rankings.
The performance of two little known not-for-profit private universities from Chandigarh region—Shoolini University (Shoolini University of Biotechnology and Management Sciences) and Chandigarh University, Mohali, both herald into 771-780 band rank in the QS overall category. Shoolini in particular has become cynosure of the higher education observers in India.
Another four HEIs belonging to Chandigarh region—Punjab University (PU), Chandigarh, Thapar Institute of Engineering & Technology, Patiala, OP Jindal Global University, Sonipat and Chitkara University, Rajpura are featuring among top rankers from India—indicating a silent transformation of the region as the future hub of India’s happening higher education landscape. OP Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, which has been ranked in 951-1000 bracket this year, at the same time has steeply gone down from its 651-700 rank last year.