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Pune Speak Up: Why Indian varsities fare badly in global rankings?

Thursday, 15 May 2014 - 9:30am IST | Place: Pune | Agency: DNA
The latest Asia specific QS university rankings have revealed that no Indian university features among the top 10 varsities. The QS, ICAA, British Council, FICCI and KPMG have partnered in the ranking programme. dna finds out the reasons for the poor show....

Methodology used for rankings does not fit to Indian scenario
We are locked with this issue of our Indian varsities doing poorly on global rankings for the past one decade. Every now and then there are reports coming about Indian varsities. My feeling is that the methodology used by the outside world for these rankings, does not fit to the Indian scenario and environment at all. These organisations coming out with the rankings had given a presentation in Delhi recently and also a month ago down south. I feel that they are just trying to promote themselves and the varsities abroad. There methodology used for rankings is good but the way in which the data should be collected is not correct. This one-to-one relationship will never happen with varsities in India. This western approach of doing accreditation of Indian varsities has its own merits and demerits and it does not fit one-to-one in the Indian scenario and can be a product of speculation.
—Arun Nigavekar, educationist & former chairperson of UGC 

Our varsities, institutes operate in a controlled fee structure
These international rankings are done on the basis of 10 or more criteria, after which there are various weightage factors and points, on which the agencies finalise the rankings of the universities. Why our varsities are scoring bad on these global rankings is because we are lagging on these criterion. For example, when it comes to availability of sufficiently qualified faculty at Indian varsities, we are falling short. In terms of how students get placed at the institute level in India, it is poor because our institutes have hardly any interaction with the industry. Except for a few institutes in India, the infrastructure like libraries, classrooms, labs etc. available at others, rates very low compared to what is available in campuses abroad. We also score very badly on our research work appearing in international publications. Our varsities and institutes operate in a controlled fee structure, which is very modest and not sufficient to create state-of-the-art infrastructure or appoint highly-paid faculty.
—Ajit Patwardhan, chairman, governing body, DES 

Government’s focus is more on the primary education 
The main reasons for the Indian varsities scoring so badly in international rankings is largely based on the economic growth of the country, which plays a vital role. The size of the Indian population is huge and therefore the government’s focus is more on the primary education and ensuring that students do not drop out of education. The universities deal with graduate and PG level education and traditionally it has not been the focus of the government. The private-run institutes generally take care of higher education under the affiliation universities. The structure of education in India is very different compared to other countries in the west or other Asian countries. For example, the University of Pune, a decade ago was the most prestigious varsity in the country, which is not true now. The number of institutes affiliated to UoP has grown to mammoth proportion, but its internal development to cope with the responsibility has been neglected. The varsity’s academic and government council members are all representatives of the affiliated colleges, which give rise to conflicts of interest in decision making. There are various reasons why are varsities are not capable to compete at global level and growing in such a scenario is very difficult.
—Chetan Wakalkar, group director, Indira Group of Institutes

Research fund allocations for varsities are very low 
All these ranking agencies based abroad whether it is Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) or others are primarily more focused towards the parameter of research initiatives taken by the universities. It is alright for universities abroad in west or developed countries to score on the parameter of research, but when it comes to India the varsities here fall short on research activity. Why Indian varsities do not score on these international rankings because the research fund allocations here are very low and there is the need for the government to raise the same. Secondly, the Indian faculty at university level are more focused towards teaching than research, which I feel has to do a lot with the education system during their student days. Thirdly, the corporate linking for research in collaboration with universities is very low or next to non-existent. For example, the R&D centres of industries have no connection with universities. The parameters of these rankings levied by international ranking agencies give very low percentage of allocation to extended activities towards society (or CSR) and placement or employability. In India, employability is very important than research for the students. For these ranking programmes the western universities cannot be compared with the ones in India, because we are dealing with a completely different scenario. 
--Vidya Yeravdekar, principle director, Symbiosis Society


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