IITs boycotting Times World rankings counterproductive for India: Times Higher Education

The Indian Institutes of Technology’s April decision not to participate in this year’s Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings will be “counterproductive” for India at the world stage, according to Phil Baty, chief knowledge officer of the rankings.

Baty told ThePrint in an email interview: “With more universities trusting THE World University Rankings than any other commercial competitor rankings, we believe that the IITs’ absence is counterproductive to improving both the individual institutions, and India’s position and visibility on the world stage.”

The Times rankings are one of the two most reputed for higher education institutions in the world, the other being Quacquerelli Symonds (QS). Published by THE Magazine, they rank the best institutions across the world based on various criteria such as research output, academic reputation and others. Apart from the world rankings, THE also comes up with Asia Rankings, Europe Teaching Rankings, Japan University Rankings, US College Rankings and Impact Rankings.

However, international rankings such as THE and QS have come in for criticism from the Government of India, with Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ saying they lay too much emphasis on perception.

“Times and QS ranking downgrade our institutions on the basis of perception, I do not agree with that. Our institutions are doing a lot of good research, we cannot be judged only on the basis of perception,” he had said, while releasing India’s own institutional rankings, NIRF.

Indian institutions in the past have also claimed that NIRF is better than THE and QS, and recently, the HRD ministry talked about taking NIRF to the international level.

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Alleged lack of transparency

The IITs announced their boycott of the rankings alleging a lack of transparency in the parameters that THE uses.

“IITs will reconsider their decision next year if Times Higher Education is able to convince them about the parameters and transparency in their ranking process,” the institutions had said in a joint statement.

However, Baty defended THE’s system, saying: “THE is proud of its transparent methodology and we believe we do more to actively demonstrate transparency than any of the other global university rankings in the market.”

Baty said THE’s “metrics are specifically designed to ensure they capture the entire performance of a university’s output”, and that it gets the World University Rankings audited through PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to ensure transparency.

Record number of Indian institutions

Speaking about Indian institutions in general, Baty said “there is clearly a huge appetite among India’s higher education institutions to be visible and accountable internationally, to strengthen the reach and appeal of the sector”.

“I am also heartened to see that our upcoming World University Rankings 2021, due for release in early September, also see a record number of Indian institutions included. We believe that the absence of some of India’s most esteemed IITs is a glaring omission,” he said.

“India has a great opportunity to continue to drive up the quality of its higher education sector through robust international rankings, such as THE World University Rankings, and to become a success story nationally, regionally and globally. The absence of its older IITs undermines that ambition,” he added.

Courtesy: The Print

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