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New Delhi: The government on Tuesday unveiled an indigenous ranking framework for higher educational institutions that it believes will give Indian institutions a competitive platform free of any international bias.

The framework will evaluate institutions on five parameters—teaching, learning and resources (TLR); research, professional practice and collaborative performance (RPC); graduation outcome (GO); outreach and inclusivity (OI); and perception (PR) of end users.

Initially, it will be voluntary for institutions to sign up for the ranking. Institutions will have to provide data online by 31 December, and the final ranking will be unveiled in the first week of April before the new academic session begins, higher education secretary Vinay S. Oberoi said.

The ranking will be done by an independent and autonomous body and the exercise will be an annual affair.

At an event to unveil to ranking framework, human resources development (HRD) minister Smriti Irani cited three fundamental reasons for coming up with an indigenous ranking framework. She said international ranking agencies only consider research work done in English; the body of work in regional languages is not considered. Social inclusion or the reservation system is the second reason and giving new institutions a level playing field with older institutions is the other key reason behind the move, Irani said.

The exercise will have an Indian context and reflect educational aspiration of Indians but shall be done in a completely “transparent manner", she said.

“The National Institutional Ranking Framework marks a paradigm shift by including perceptions of students and parents in the ranking," Irani said.

“Inclusivity of our institutions is not taken into account in international rankings," she said, and added that the ranking framework will provide a transparent means for institutions to engage with students.

When asked whether reservations or social inclusion will take away from the competitiveness of institutions as social inclusion is not always based on merit, Oberoi said this aspect was part of the institutional framework. “It is not going to alter the (reservations) policy but reflect it," the secretary added.

University Grants Commission chairman Ved Prakash said he does not see any disadvantage because of this parameter as it is just one of the five key parameters for evaluating an institution.

For the last two years, the HRD ministry has been deliberating on the subject and it picked up pace in the last one year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought development of an indigenous ranking for Indian institutions.

The initial impetus for such a ranking came after Indian universities, including the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) failed to garner a respectable ranking year after year in the World University Rankings, done by various international agencies like Times Higher Education and Quacquarelli Symonds or QS. None of the Indian institutes featured among the Top 200 universities. However, earlier this month, British ranking agency Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) ranked the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, at 147 and 179, respectively, in the QS World University Rankings for 2015-16.

This is the first time in years that two Indian institutes have been placed in the Top 200 of global education.

The ministry will rank institutions vertically—engineering, management, universities, etc. Besides, it will also create two categories. Category A: those focusing on research and teaching; and Category B: those focusing primarily on teaching.

Keeping in mind the diversity of institutions, both in terms of type and quality, the idea of a single overall ranking was abandoned in favour of separate rankings based on education verticals, said Surendra Prasad, chairman of the National Board of Accreditation, an autonomous body that accredits technical education subjects. He is part of a panel of experts involved in devising the ranking framework.

The ministry on Tuesday unveiled the ranking framework for engineering and management. In the next four weeks, it will come out with the frameworks for other sectors.

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