HRD Ministry to consider Public Opinion in Educational Institutes Rankings

On April 4, 2016, the Ministry of Human Resource and Development led by Smriti Irani released India’s first ever domestic educational ranking list. The ranking evaluates higher educational institutions in Engineering, Management, Universities and Pharmacy categories. However, from this year onwards the general public will have a say in the government rankings awarded to educational institutions in an attempt to ensure greater transparency and check inaccurate data furnished by universities and colleges.

This year, two institutions at the centre of a nationalism debate – Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University and the University of Hyderabad – figured among the top five in the universities category. For 2017, colleges across the country will also be ranked and the government will award a common overall rank to the institution irrespective of specialization or branch.

In lieu of the same, all the participating institutions have been asked by the human resource development ministry publish relevant data, including the number of teachers, infrastructure and students among others, on their website. The general public and other stakeholders will then be asked to scrutinise the data and submit their feedback to the National Accreditation Bureau under the HRD ministry in case of any discrepancy.

The ‘India Rankings 2016’ were put together with the participation of 3,500 private and public institutions, which were ranked by National Bureau of Accreditation (NBA) based on five criteria – teaching and learning resources, graduation outcome, perception, outreach and inclusivity and research productivity. All institutions were judged based on self-disclosure of information. Last year, a number of institutions had withheld information or provided incorrect data about the number of faculty and infrastructure to secure a good ranking, sources said. The ministry doesn’t carry out physical checks of its own.

Procedure involved in Ranking

All the participating institutions, independent of their discipline or nature (university, engineering institution, law or medical institution) will be given a common overall rank. The parameters have been chosen in such a manner that they remain equally important for all kinds of educational institutions. The format has been designed keeping in mind that the diversity of disciplines and their separate needs or characters are suitably taken care of.

Criteria for Ranking

The criteria for ranking include teaching/learning resources, research, graduation outcomes, outreach/inclusivity and perception. The data for the first four parameters, which account for 90% of the weightage, will be submitted by the institutions and verified by the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), a body constituted by the HRD ministry last year to conduct annual surveys.

Overall effect of National Rankings

The comparative assessment of universities and higher education institutes for engineering, management, and pharmacy, marks the beginning of an important exercise. It will help institutions identify their shortcomings, and should help channel resources for improvements. The intent of the ministry of human resource development and ranking committee is to create a competitive environment in the higher education sector to improve the quality and output of institutions.

The Indian Ranking should spur higher education institutions to higher levels of excellence. Universities that create new knowledge are integral to the real promise of Make in India and Stand Up India. The industry should use the rankings to fund research in university departments.

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