“International world university rankings give a large weightage to perception and internationalisation indicators where Indian institutions predominantly lag. There is a rampant need to re-look into the methodology of these ranking systems. The global rankings must be the means but not the sole criterion for measuring the performance of an IoE institute. The ministry should come up with its own parameters which are more organic in nature for evaluating the performance rather than solely relying on these global ranking systems,” he adds.
As for our own home-grown ranking systems such as the National Institutional Ranking Framework – (NIRF) that are primarily new and are evolving with time, Rao adds, “Though NIRF is one of the most transparent rankings of higher education institutions in India but it is not yet ready for global acceptance. It remains to be seen if NIRF can set up a benchmark at least in the SAARC nations soon in the near future.”
To foster internationalisation and attract foreign faculty, across IoEs, Rao emphasises on the need for a good working environment, with relatively little red-tape, good startup grants, ease of handling students, providing international standard teaching assistants, a competitive salary, and generous vacation, coupled with good quality housing.
He calls for a macro level policy framework for incentivising IoE institutes which in turn could provide a level playing field for the IoEs that have fallen below par. “That should be left to the ministry to decide the structure. Building a global perception requires a concerted effort over a period which is a function of many variables such as improving research standards, internationalisation, better reach by establishing an overseas campus, student and faculty exchange etc,” Rao adds.
IITs versus state universities An incentive mechanism to globalise education in the IoEs would need better citations per publications, says MK Surappa, vice chancellor Anna University, one of the few state universities with IoE status. “One of the critical parameters in international ranking exercises is the number of citations per publication, and in that the premier institutes of the country fall short. While none of the institutions have citations exceeding 10, the globally ranked institutions such as MIT, Stanford University and Harvard have around 30 citations per publication which makes them stay ahead of the race.”
He believes that incentivisation should be a means to help fund-starved state universities to function with greater autonomy, much like the IITs. “To increase competition between the two, the government should provide more fellowships to PhD scholars in the state universities where there is enormous talent with a large percentage coming from the non-elite sections.”
NEP 2020 for better ranking
About the provisions of the National Education Policy 2020 to ensure success of IoEs, Surappa says that its effective implementation through multiple entry-exit, online degrees and multidisciplinary education, will require commitment from all stakeholders to fulfil the measures in the true spirit.