In the recently announced QS World University Rankings 2023, Indian higher education institutions have done their best so far. Rising to more than a hundred places, seven universities made a splash this year, while 17 universities moved up and another 17 remained steadfast on their previous year’s position as top educational institutions superior to the world. The 20% increase in the number of new entrants pushed India up the ladder.
India has paved the way for world-class, globally recognized higher education with 41 universities ranked in QS World Universities 2023. The world’s largest and most notable annual survey of academic opinion, the QS Rankings assesses a university’s performance by measuring the sentiments of academic stakeholders on six performance indicators – academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty-to-student ratio, citations per faculty (CpF), international faculty ratio and student ratio international.
The 19th edition of the ranking paints a stronger portrait of India. Nine eminent institutions are ranked in the top 1000, five in the top 500 and three in the top 200. Five of the public institutions declared eminent have a higher rank than in previous editions (IIS, IITB, IITD, IITM and IIT-KGP ), while two declined (University of Delhi and University of Hyderabad), and one remained unchanged (Banaras Hindu University). In the prestigious group of the top 200 are the Indian Institute of Science (155), IIT-Bombay at 172nd and IIT-Delhi at 174th in the world, respectively progressing by 31, 5 and 11 places compared to the previous year’s score. IIT-Indore debuts at an impressive 396th in the world among new entrants. Madras University falls in the 541-550 band, while Chandigarh University (800-1000) is the youngest university to make it onto the list.
QS surveyed 99,000 employers and hiring managers worldwide whose opinions inform QS’s Employer Reputation (AR) measure. Two national universities, IIT-Bombay and IIT-Delhi broke records to be among the top 100 in the AR metric, ranking 59th and 72nd respectively and improving their rankings year on year. Along with this, five institutions in the top 500 have rapidly moved up the rankings. It is historical that after a gap of 10 years, all Indian institutions in the top 500 have improved their rankings.
Indian universities have established a significant global position in the QS World Rankings 2023, the highlight being improved faculty to student ratio, citation per faculty, international student admissions and male student enrollment ratio / women. All of this has happened thanks to the conscious efforts of the government to improve the standards of higher education.
The central government’s historic decision to introduce the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, 34 years after the previous policy, greatly reflects the vision, aspirations and foresight of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his relentless pursuit of reform education system and transition the gap between current and desired learning outcomes, while recognizing the need to keep pace with a rapidly changing world and knowledge landscape.
The globalization of education has transformed the way institutional excellence is measured. The elite status of world-class universities is now also based on international recognition of university rankings.
The results are significant, no doubt, and it is equally important to recognize that change did not happen overnight. It took the Prime Minister years of work and consultations with thousands of educators, policy makers and members of civil society. This effort has been very ambitious in the way it aims to address the brain drain. The Prime Minister said the NEP will tackle the brain drain by paving “the way for the campuses of the best international institutions in the country to be opened up to make them accessible to young people from simple families”. The government has made great strides towards realizing dreams, which were unfathomable ten years ago. However, there are also a number of areas that require immediate government attention.
The first concerns public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP. Then come questions of mobility of professors and international students. India’s research spending has been low for decades. Finally, India does not have last mile education penetration, but this is something the government aims to rectify through its target of achieving 50% gross enrollment ratio. by 2035 compared to 26.3% in 2018, as planned in the NEP. The Modi government should address these issues to make India’s education system strong, inclusive and equitable.
This article first appeared in the print edition of June 10, 2022 under the title “Turnaround story”.
The author is Associate Director (International Affairs), Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi