Teaching India a lesson

How come no Indian university among global top 200?


Jasleen Kaur | September 12, 2012

We might be proud of our top higher educational institutions but when compared to their international counterparts these institutes do not stand anywhere. No university or institutes of excellence are among the best 200 in the world according to the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) ranking 2012, the most reputed global rankings of institutes for higher education. This classification takes into account three key aspects of each university - size, focus, research intensity and age.

The Indian Institute of Technology, (IIT) Bombay, which ranked 186 globally in 2010 – the last time an Indian university or institute was ranked in the top 200, has dropped to 227 this year. IIT Delhi is ranked 212 and IIT Kanpur is ranked 278.

India is trying to revamp its higher education standards, but it is still lagging behind not just the universities of the developed world but even the neighboring China. Among the top 200, China has seven institutes in the list.

So what is it that is stopping the Indian universities and institutes to compete at the global level?
First and foremost is that most universities in our country lack focus on research. Even the IITs have not been focusing much on the research aspect of higher education. HRD minister Kapil Sibal, who has been pushing for education reforms from school to universities, has also been promoting research, development and innovation in universities.

The Universities for Research and Innovation Bill 2012 is pending before parliament. This bill will allow the central government to set up universities for research and innovation through notifications. These universities will emerge as hubs of education, research and innovation and they may also establish campuses in foreign countries. Universities will be set up in both public and private sectors. It targets to set up 14 such universities and these would have autonomy in matters related to academics, faculty and finance administration. But it will take some more time to come into existence.

Also, for a very long time the government did not pay well to teachers of higher education institutions. It did hamper their performance and stopped many competent candidates to enter the profession. Only after the sixth pay commission recommendation the salaries have been improved and now it has started attracting the best people from industry to teach in universities.  

Sibal also aims to double the existing gross enrolment ratio to 30% by 2020 and increase the number of teachers as well. It is time not just to focus on enhancing the number of faculty in colleges and universities but also to improve their quality.

Just spending money on building infrastructure, book or quality teacher is not enough. We must also ensure that what is taught in the classroom is relevant at international level. For that it is important to ensure that there is regular updation of the curriculum and more and more innovative and practical teaching and learning methods are used.

We also need to broaden skills and promote innovation and research on a national scale instead of just few institutes of excellence and thus promote quality based education for India’s future.
Another problem of higher education in our country is the lack of transparency in decision making by universities. There has been huge domination of government commissions in policy making of the university. And mushrooming of private universities is also affecting the credibility of our system.

So, for a very long time the government has not spend on three major aspects of higher education – Research and development, Infrastructure and teachers. But now it is time that the government focuses on improving the quality of higher education institutions and thus makes them compete at the global level.



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