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Indian Institute of Sciences. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

Indian universities draw a blank in THE’s top 300 list

  • IISc Bangalore and IIT Ropar in 301-350 grouping, IIT Indore figures in 351-400 group
  • Times Higher Education said IISc’s fall is due to a fall in its (research) citation impact score

For the first time since 2012, not a single Indian institution figured among the top 300 in World University Rankings 2020, compiled by UK-based Times Higher Education (THE).

While Indian universities are led by the Indian Institute of Sciences (IISc) Bangalore, its ranking dropped 50 places—from the 251-300 ranking cohort in the previous year to the 301-350 grouping.

Other than IISc, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Ropar appeared in the same grouping, followed by IIT Indore with a rank of 351 to 400. Both second-generation IITs established after 2008-09 have leapt ahead of other top schools and older IITs including those in Mumbai and Delhi, primarily because of their high score in research citations. While IIT Ropar has got 100 in the research citation parameter, IIT Indore scored 77— much better than IISc and older IITs.

IITs in Mumbai, Delhi and Kharagpur have been placed in the 401-500 ranking bracket. It means both IIT Kharagpur and IIT Delhi have grown by 100 ranks from the previous year. After the top 200 ranks, THE puts universities in ranking groups.

Yet, none of the top Indian schools finding a space in the top 300, leave alone in the top 200, comes as a setback as Indian higher education is looking to improve its global presence and a structured programme of the Union government has shortlisted 20 universities as institutions of eminence to improve their global positions in all parameters.

“India has a huge amount of potential in global higher education, given its rapidly growing youth population and economy and use of English-language instruction. However, it is disappointing to see the country fall out of the top 300 of the rankings this year, with only a small number of institutions registering progress. The Indian government has strong ambitions to boost the global standing of its top universities and attract foreign students, academics and research collaboration. It now needs to back up these aspirations with high levels of investment – or risk declining further amid increasing global competition, especially from other parts of Asia," Ellie Bothwell, THE rankings editor, said in an email.

THE said the fall in the ranking of IISc is “due to a significant fall in its (research) citation impact score offsetting improvements in research environment, teaching environment and industry income."

“It is the first time that an Indian university has not featured in the top 300 of the ranking since 2012, when just a single institution from the country, the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, was ranked," THE said in its email.

Paras Jain/Mint

As per the ranking survey, Indian institutions have been lagging in their international outlook, a prickly issue for the higher education sector in the country despite its ambition to become a study-abroad destination for low income and developing countries.

“The best Indian institutions are generally characterized by relatively strong scores for teaching environment and industry income, but perform poorly when it comes to international outlook in comparison to both regional and international counterparts," THE said.

In Asia, China’s dominance continues with 24 of its universities finding a place among the top 200 in the list.

The solace for India, however, is 56 Indian universities feature in the group of 1,300 institutions, up from 49 last year. As a result, India holds on to its place as the fifth most-represented nation in the world and the third most-represented in Asia —behind Japan and mainland China. It has eight more universities than Germany, which is sixth in the country ranking.

Among new entries from India, the Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai and IIT Gandhi Nagar have made it to the top 501-600 group. They were not ranked earlier. Similarly, Delhi-based Jawaharlal Nehru University was for the first time ranked in the 601-800 group.

Globally, Oxford University continues to lead the high table followed by California Institute of Technology and University of Cambridge. Stanford University and MIT complete the top five global table.

Globally, the US continues to dominate the ranking, with 172 institutions overall and 60 in the top 200. US universities make up 14 of the global top 20 and seven of the top 10, with the country’s leading institutions performing particularly well in the area of citation impact.

“Future editions of the World University Rankings will most likely reveal intense competition, and while European and American institutions face significant hurdles, Chinese and other Asian universities have challenges of their own they must meet. These include ensuring that the excellent academics they produce do not move abroad to more established institutions in Europe and North America; promoting a culture of scholarly creativity and freedom; and boosting ties with nations across the globe," said Phil Baty, THE’s chief knowledge officer.