- Mains – GS 2 (Governance)
Context: The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) is adopted by the Ministry of Education to rank institutions of higher education in India.
About National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF):
- It was launched by the Ministry for Human Resource Development (MHRD) [now Ministry of Education (MoE)] in September 2015.
- This framework outlines a methodology to rank institutions across the country.
- The NIRF employs a ranking metric comprising five parameters with varying weightage to assess the quality of colleges:
- Teaching, Learning and Resources (40%),
- Graduation Outcome (25%),
- Research and Professional Practices (15%),
- Outreach and Inclusivity (10%) and
- Perception (10%).
- Each of these parameters has several components, which again have varying weightage.
- Though far from perfect, the metric is reasonably robust as it uses broad-based and curated parameters.
Learning from Top ranking states:
- Larger coverage of colleges: More than one-third of the top-ranked colleges are dispersed across different places; they not only cater largely to the rural and under-served areas, but also provide an opportunity for quality education for students from poor and disadvantaged social groups who do not have the economic resources and social networks to study in colleges.
- Reservation Policy: Tamil Nadu not only has one of the highest reservation quotas, but also has been quite effective in its implementation of the reservation policy.
Significance of Quality education in India:
- There is a severe learning crisis in India.
- Time and again this has been emphasized by several national and international level studies.
- The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), stated that 50% of Class V students were unable to even read the text meant for students three levels below.
- Without immediate remedial assistance, these children cannot effectively progress in the education system.
- These future citizens will be low on skill level requirements of Industry 4.0.
- In the longer run, this will act as roadblock in the path of demographic dividend’s realization.
Criticisms of the ranking framework:
Insufficient quality parameters:
- The quality of an institution is a function of several inputs and the above indicators alone may not be sufficient.
- For example., how can we include the skills that an institution/university imparts to its students as one of the important ingredients? Should the financial health and size of the institution not be a criterion? etc.
- The diversity in the Indian education system is large.
- There are fresh as well as old institutions offering degrees/diplomas/certifications.
- There are also technology vs social sciences institutions, multi-disciplinary vs single discipline, private vs public, research-based, innovation-based, language-based or even special-purpose institutions/universities.
- The boundary conditions in which they operate are very different.
- NIRF seems to be committing the same sin that the global rankings systems were once accused of — a one-size-fits-all approach.
Ranking Vs accreditation:
- Another glaring oversight is the disconnect that exists between the ranking and accreditation.
- Several universities have earned a NAAC A grade but figure poorly in the ranking system.
Lack of international faculty:
- The world over, ranking educational institutes is a matter of debate and research. There are at least 20 global ranking agencies that measure quality on various parameters.
- Two factors that are absent and differentiate us from the global ranking systems are our lack of international faculty and students and the inadequacy of our research to connect with the industry.
Challenges at higher education level:
- Indian universities have become moribund institutions run by cloistered, change-resistant bureaucracies where curricula are not updated for years.
- Students are not exposed to cutting edge research and ideas – CSIR has research avenues but these are cut off from University linkages.
- Political interference in selections, appointments and day-to-day administrative of universities.
- Mistaken belief that homogenization of institutions will produce greater pedagogic creativity. This leaves no room for competition among higher education institutions.
The consistent and remarkable performance of Tamil Nadu in higher education highlights the possibility of achieving both quality and inclusion simultaneously. This significant achievement should serve as a catalyst for introspection among other southern states that possess a robust and inclusive social welfare framework.
There is need to examine the reasons behind their lagging performance and be inspired to take proactive measures to address the existing issues and improve the quality and inclusivity of higher education in their respective regions.
Source: The Hindu