7 IITs to boycott THE World University Rankings this year

Seven IITs in Mumbai, Delhi, Kanpur, Guwahati, Madras, Roorkee and Kharagpur will not participate in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings this year. The decision, The Indian Express has learned, was taken after the premier engineering schools held two meetings with representatives of THE to flag issues of “transparency” in the ranking parameters.

Last year, the older IITs had expressed concerns over their performance in the World University Rankings released in September.

As first reported by The Indian Express on September 25, IIT-Bombay said that Times Higher Education had ranked the institute even though it chose not to participate this year. IIT-Delhi director V Ramgopal Rao, on the other hand, took to social media to say that World University Rankings do not reflect the actual performance of Indian educational institutions.

Last year, not a single Indian institution featured in the top 300 of World University Rankings. A total of 14 IITs found a place in the rankings this year. Of these, IIT-Roorkee and IIT-Kanpur registered a drop in performance, five improved and the remaining maintained their position from last year.

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IIT-Delhi reached out to Phil Baty, THE’s editorial director of global rankings, on behalf of all 23 IITs to seek a meeting. Subsequently, a workshop with THE’s data and analytics director Duncan Ross was arranged in November last year, which was followed by a video conference between Baty, and the IIT heads earlier this year.

The institutes, during these meetings, flagged concerns regarding the citation metric. “There are several research projects in which institutions collaborate globally. Such research papers have high citation by virtue of multiple authors associated with it. An institution that is part of such a project ends up having a disproportionate advantage over others because of one paper that is cited multiple times globally,” said an IIT director, who did not wish to be identified.

THE evaluates institutions on five parameters — teaching (the learning environment), research (volume, income and reputation), citations (research influence), international outlook (staff, students and research) and industry income (knowledge transfer).

“There is also no consistency in performance. One year an institution can do well in these rankings only to find that it has been dropped altogether next year. Academic institutions don’t work on quarterly basis. There is no transparency on how data is collected,” said another director.

The IITs were expecting THE to tweak the ranking parameter based on the feedback shared during the meetings. “We didn’t hear anything from them. So the seven older IITs decided not to participate unless THE can convince of transparency in the ranking parameters,” said the director quoted above.

Courtesy: The Indian Express

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