The Rise to the Global Top 50 Indian Universities

India’s education sector has seen revolutionary reforms in recent years. The country has unveiled its ambitious National Education Policy which aims to radically change the way students learn. Several other changes including renaming the Ministry of Human Resource Development to the Ministry of Education, improving the standard of universities through the National Institutional Ranking Framework, promoting online education and increased focus on research, highlight India’s efforts to improve the quality of education. The University Grants Commission (UGC) has initiated reforms to facilitate and strengthen inclusive education.

India is home to some of the best institutions of international standards like Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and Indian Institutes of Technology, and other competent centers of higher education like University of Delhi, Central Universities, traditional state universities with potential for excellence and emerging private universities. the universities. It is also home to well-known and specialized institutions like the Indian Institutes of Management. Their global rankings have improved thanks to the concerted efforts of the government. These institutions, funded by the Indian government, have infrastructures that meet global standards.

The question now is how to transform Indian universities to be among the top 100 or top 50 in the world. Professionalism coupled with the setting of time-bound strategic objectives by each institution involved holds the key. Most importantly, they should strive to improve key metrics that determine global rankings: employer reputation, international student-to-faculty ratio, citations by faculty, academic reputation, faculty-student ratio, etc.

Embracing greater professionalism involves teaching a pedagogy of international standards. One way to do this is to follow UGC’s recent suggestion to involve subject matter experts and successful international practitioners as faculty.

Employer reputation is a measure of how well a university shapes its students for successful careers. Students need employment after graduation, which the respective university can facilitate by understanding employers’ requirements and then incorporating the required skills into the institution’s curriculum. A unit of faculty and students, set up specifically for networking with major employers, should be an essential component of individual departments. Annual recruitment statistics should also be widely disseminated.

Academic reputation – another important element in the overall ranking – has two components: the quality of teaching and research. The quality of education requires independent assessment by professional agencies, as is done internationally.

Faculty citations measure the quality of an institution’s research. Recently, IISc was ranked as the best university in the world in “citations”. India’s top universities could replicate IISc’s strategy. India has relatively smaller number of scholars compared to China, USA and others.

The faculty-student ratio is another key indicator of international rankings. UGC recently specified faculty-to-student ratios of 1:10 and 1:25 respectively for postgraduate and undergraduate courses. The concept of “research assistants” in international universities could be replicated in top Indian institutions.

The international student-faculty ratio is a major element that determines global rankings. Students are the best ambassadors to improve the ranking of universities and a high proportion of international students improves its reputation globally. To attract international students, the composition of the faculty must essentially integrate international experts for whom doors can be opened for international / lateral recruitment
hall. These international experts who can be part of professional ranking agencies can enable global recognition of the university, instilling its global awareness and vision.

Accelerated education reforms undertaken by the government, with improving global indicators, could put India among the front runners.

(The author is Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Finance)

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