IISc feat, inspiration for other institutions

IISc feat, inspiration for other institutions

It should be a matter of cheer for the students and faculty of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), for Bengaluru and for the country as such, that the premier science study and research institution has been listed among the top 100 universities of the world in the latest Times Higher Education rankings. The ranking is for science and technology universities and IISc is placed 99th. This is the first time an Indian university has found a place among the first 100 in the world. The IISc is at the fifth place in the QS BRICS university rankings. Along with IIT-Delhi, it has also been ranked within the first 200 of the QS list of the world’s best universities. The Institute has done well to improve its position in all respects, as the ranking takes into consideration a number of factors including teaching, international outlook, research, citations and industry outcome.

While IISc’s achievement is creditable, it should also be matter of concern that the country’s best institution is not even among top 50 in the world. We have a large number of institutions for study and research in science and technology. We also have the world’s second largest population to feed these institutions with top talent. But we are nowhere in the picture when many Asian countries like China and even the tiny Singapore have universities which are counted among the top few in the world. In the past, the methodology of assessment and a bias in favour of universities in the west have been blamed for the poor position of Indian universities in world rankings. But these are lame excuses. IISc Director Anurag Kumar has said that a new under-graduate course and the providing of complete data needed for the rankings helped the institute get into the first 100 positions in the Times ranking. The IISc has also seen an uptrend in collaborative research with industries and entered into alliances with global players in many areas of technology. This also has helped.

The need to improve the standards of higher education and make our institutions world class centres of learning cannot be overstated. Standards have to be improved from the school level onwards, and the entire system of scientific and technical education has to change. There should be more funding support, better faculty and greater independence for the institutions. There should be no political and government interference in their affairs. There is also the need for better linkages with industry and a stronger emphasis on research. The IISc’s ranking should inspire action in these areas. The premier institute should also strive to further improve its position.
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