Why Indian institutions do not bother about foreign ratings

September 21st, 2012

The latest QS Rankings saw a dismal performance by most educational institutions in India. Apart from the IITs which also stood well below the Top 200 institutes in the world, other institutions including the Delhi University stood below Top 400 institutes.

Though international experts and critics of the Indian educational system may term it as a failure on the institution’s part to match up to the world standards, the question to be asked is whether these institutes actually aspire for a world ranking.

Among the 50,000 plus colleges in India, only a small percentage choose to be a part of the world rankings in the first place. Experts might argue that lack of necessary infrastructure and other facilities may prohibit such institutes from applying; even those who do have the requisite facilities do not wish to apply.

“The concern is not about not being able to compete with their international standards; it is about what would be the next logical step after the rankings are awarded,” says the associate dean from an engineering college in West Bengal. He might be right in his view, as his institute features prominently in Indian magazine rankings. And to add to it, a third or fourth position in these magazine rankings would look more glamorous on the institute’s website rather than a 400th position in QS rankings.

There are even others, like a technical institute in Tamil Nadu, who feel that they don’t stand a chance compared to the US institutes. “Who should we bother to apply, when we know that we wouldn’t be able to overthrow a US or a UK college?” wonders the principal of the institute. What they somehow do not understand is that if they could improve their existing facilities, they would definitely be able to match up the standards.

While research and internationalisation have been identified as key issues in India by the ranking authorities at QS, institutes are far from realising the lacuna in their system. Instead of trying to improve their academic infrastructure and research focus, the institutes seem to be content with their existing clout among Indian students. It is exactly here that India and its educational institutes are losing out.

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