IITs, JNU rise, but a long way to go

IITs, JNU rise, but a long way to go

Representative image. (DH File photo)

It is a matter of some cheer that Indian representation has improved in the latest Quacqurelli Symonds (QS) subject-wise worldwide rankings of universities in comparison to previous years. Last year, Indian universities had figured 21 times in the top 100 ranks across 11 subjects, but this year eight universities have figured 26 times in the rankings. More importantly, for the first time, IIT Delhi and IIT Bombay have been ranked among the top 50 engineering colleges in the world. IIT Bombay moved up to rank 44 from last year’s rank 53, and IIT Delhi moved to rank 47 this year from 61 last year. In the arts and humanities category, JNU improved its ranking from 166 to 164 among the 'Top 500' universities. Some other Indian universities and institutions also figured in the list but way down in the rankings. It should be noted that institutions from India did well in the engineering disciplines, but mostly in conventional branches like civil engineering. 

Rankings 100 and 50 are psychological landmarks and crossing them could give a boost to morale and pride, and so it is right to congratulate the institutes for their improved positions. But the fact remains that India’s performance is far below what it should be, going by its population, stage of development and ambitions. Against India’s 26 appearances in the top 10 ranks, China had 100 among the top 10 and 10 in the top 5 list. QS rankings are based on the quality of research done in the institutions and their accomplishments, their academic reputation and the employability of the students. These are the right yardsticks of excellence of any institution of higher learning, and their levels are pointers to the potential of the country which houses them to move forward in a world where knowledge and its applications are the most important drivers of development. 

No Indian institution found a place in the top 100 overall global university rankings. The QS rankings, and others like the Times higher education rankings, are all annual reminders of the distance India has to cover in all areas of knowledge like science, engineering and technology and humanities. There is not a single institution of world standards in the country. The reasons are many. Poor standards of school education which lays the basis for higher education, the inability of large numbers of students to finish schooling and enter colleges and universities, inadequate investment and infrastructure, the need for improvement in the standards and number of teachers, politicisation of the education system and a general lack of commitment to excellence are some of the reasons. Unless these are addressed, the country’s education potential will always remain unrealised. 

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