RSTV- The Big Picture : How can Indian Universities Improve their Global Standing?

  • October 2, 2017
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The Big Picture- RSTV
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How can Indian Universities Improve their Global Standing?


In news: India slipped in World University ranking as its share of institutions marginally fell from 31 to 30 in global 1000 list of topped by Oxford and Cambridge.

The annual world universities ranking release found India’s flagship IISC fell from 201-250 cohort to 251-300 grouping. This was attributed to its drop in research influence code and research income. IITs of Delhi, Kanpur and Madras also dropped by at least one band. Internationalization, which measures how successful a school is in attracting foreign students and staff, has affected India’s ranking majorly. This is because government has restricted policy to have limited number of students from abroad who can study in India. However, there might be an improvement in near future as research income and research quality has risen.

Why Indian universities faring so poorly?

Arts and humanities institutions have different functions and role in societies like India where there is an ongoing process of social transformation. Educational system is abiding by constitutional provisions- like reservations, quotas, bringing people from marginalised group, first generation learners etc. Those are the main targets.

Here, there is a need for assessment system which is not typically quantitative ranking based carried according to some international standard of education but which takes into account the domestic needs and priorities.

Today’s higher education in India is faced with crisis of quality. There are global challenges to higher education and therefore higher education in India has to be globally competitive and India specific too. Indian universities are catering to different kind of strata of Indian society. But this doesn’t mean that students coming from lower strata just need to be literate. The faculty has to be also more competitive to help them gain multi-dimensional knowledge.

Infrastructure, competition within and competition outside, the kind of funding received plays an important role in university building. It may be a good idea to promote competition between public and private universities and their release combined rankings. Improvement of ranking is a real challenge as decline of institutions is a serious concern due to under-funding as well as limited teaching faculty.

How to improve ranking?- These ranking are for students’ consumption

  • The environment to have best research needs to be there. The parents are also to be blamed. The students go under rigorous coaching and have lost their imagination. There is no originality in the thought working in India. So then there has to be done incremental research to be competitive in the world. Original research requires lot of infrastructure and also people who can use that. This is not build in a day.
  • Educational improvement will come from the bottom i.e. through students. The primary school training has to be there. Teachers are highly underpaid and hence people don’t chose this profession. Hence vast places in universities are filled by mediocre people.
  • There is a legacy problem from British rule. Indian universities focus on teaching only more than research. Research and teaching are integral to universities and these have to go together.
  • The moral and motivation of the academics have to be maintained. Not only attract the quality but also retain the quality of teachers. For this, the recruitment and the promotion policy has to be looked into. Recruitment policy on merit, kind of promotion on merit and in intervals would retain good teachers.
  • Apart from it, the Indian industry needs to be more ambitious in terms of their own research capacities and ability to generate technology.


If universities become centre of fresh knowledge production then things change. Complete freedom of thought in direction and ideas is need of the hour. There is a prevailing culture that knowledge is finite and job of student is to master pre-existing knowledge. This has a limiting problem in educational culture which needs to be challenged.

There is highly layered society where authority is very important. If somebody questions existing authority, it can shake entire social foundations of culture so there is scared of questioning. There is a need for system that allows freedom of questioning in all directions.

The filter down approach since independence was that there should be good higher education. But then it was understood that it is the primary education that makes the difference.

Additionally, it is not necessary that only outside agencies can conduct the survey. NIRF has also conducted the survey of its own. There is a need to rate the institutions on continuous basis to check their performance and set other benchmarks.

Connecting the dots:

  • Critically analyse why Indian education is faring poorly domestically as well as in international arena. Suggest practical measures to bring good standards in education sector.

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