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Thursday, September 13, 2012

No Indian University in Top 100 of QS Ranking

Make that 200. The top rank goes to IIT Delhi at 212.

Let me draw up a list of reasons that I expect to hear and some proposed solutions.

QS rankings are biased. Their methodology favors China (and Korea and Japan and Brazil and everyone else).

Of course, they are biased. Haven't they heard of coaching mandis. Haven't they heard of JEE. Am I to believe that average student getting into MIT can do better in JEE than students that get into IITs. These rankings are just a plot by ISI to show India in poor light.

I think IIT Council must call for an emergency meeting to come up with a new Indian ranking system, which will be based solely on preference by JEE selected students of various universities. Any university who wants to participate in such a ranking will have to admit students only through JEE and the percentile score of 12th class board exam. If we do this, we will become the world leaders, with 19 out of top 20 universities being from India. We will make sure that there is at least one non-Indian university in the top 20, even a Pakistani university, lest others should doubt the ranking system.

We are a poor nation, and our priority is primary and secondary education.

Yeah, sure. That focus is so clearly visible in the PISA report. But I have a suggestion, and it has been inspired from an excellent paper that Prof. Mehta of IIM Ahmedabad wrote recently on Why Harvard is Number One university in the world (needless to say that QS does not agree with the title of the paper). It includes a brief history of Harvard, how it started as a government college, but government never had sufficient funds to support it. So early in Harvard's history, when the Government couldn't provide Harvard sufficient resources, it gave Harvard the right to receive the revenue of ferry services across the river Charles. So perhaps the government of India can do something similar.

Give just one coal mine to each IIT.

The main problem is that we lose marks for internationalization of our campuses. There is five percent weight for presence of foreign students, and five percent weight for presence of foreign faculty.

There are two solutions to this. We can bar Indians from going abroad for higher education. Thus, we will save billions of dollars that these people spend on education abroad. The top universities in the world will perform poorly next year on Internationalization parameter, since Indian students form a significant part of their international students.

On the other hand, we should impress upon QS ranking folks that they should not go by the nationality mentioned in the passport. A lot of students and faculty may not know who is the Vice President of India, but they certainly know the names of each and every Senator in US Congress. We should count them as India Born Foreign Students. (Just like we have the Indian Made Foreign Liquour - IMFL.)

Only universities established in a city called Cambridge are eligible for the top ranks.

MIT, Cambridge University, Harvard.
This is a simple problem to solve. In fact, this is not even a problem. British had a very short supply of names, and everything had to be named after something in England. So they first started calling my city, "Manchester of the East." But they had the foresight to see that one day all the cotton mills will be closed, and only education business (including a world class coaching mandi) will flourish. There is sufficient historical evidence that the city was to be renamed as Cambridge by British. When the order came, the local British agent could not read the poor hand-writing. So "Cam" became "Can." And to make life easy for the locals, "bridge" was translated to its Hindi word "Pul." And over the century, "Canpul" got corrupted to "Kanpur." I think we should just respect history and rename the city as Cambridge. If not Kanpur, may be we can rename Kalyanpur as Cambridge. If even that is objected to by the locals who do not understand the value of QS ranking,we can just rename the IIT as "IIT Cambridge." If we can have IIT Bombay in Mumbai, IIT Madras in Chennai, and IIT Gandhinagar in Ahmedabad, why can't we have IIT Cambridge in Kalyanpur.

While the number of research papers from Indian universities has been going up, their citation index is still low.

Serious problem. It is in our genes, I tell you. We pull each other down. You look at top 20 universities. The researchers in those universities will liberally cite each others' papers. But what do we do. We also cite papers written by researchers in those top 20 universities. We are stabbing our professional brothers and sisters in their back.

Again, where is IIT Council, when we need them most. Why can't they make it mandatory for all papers published from all Indian universities to cite at least 10 papers published by researchers from other Indian universities. The problem of low citation index will soon be history.

Concluding remarks

We only need to think out of the box. The traditional recipe for excellence invariably means hard work, accountability, planning and long term vision backed by strategy, massive amount of resources, and so on. But our leadership has shown that with innovative thinking one can achieve excellence by doing nothing. The problem of school education in the whole country can be solved simply by tweaking admission process to colleges. I have tried to follow that leadership style, and suggest ways to get into top few ranks next year without hard work, accountability, planning, vision, strategy and money.


Tarun G said...

Please Sir,
We all should comprehend the fact that the Indian Govt. and IIT Council is trying hard to revamp the country education system for the good. they are so keen to improve the system, they simply cut the discussion process and jump to random conclusion fast, and are very persistence to implement it.

i mean, see for yourself, in just a couple of years,the number of students graduating from IITs almost Doubled, i bet even MIT could not achieve that growth rate.
(What if, we don't have space, or funds, or facilities or classrooms, or labs, or enough instructors to "educate" the number,? the govt. knows that people are only interested in a Certificate that would say "IIT" somewhere, printing some more papers is all what it takes, not a hard job.)

Plus we provide equal opportunity to everybody, QS should see that too. Everybody. Anybody.

In addition, we have such an "inter-disciplinary" system, that LLM(Laywer) guy decides what best for engineering. where in world will you find that?

Oh QS! you ppl are so archaic in your ranking criteria, the third-worlds have there own wonders, only if you have enough mind power to appreciate it.!

Ankur Kulkarni said...

:) I would to hear the real reasons why you think IITs rank so low. Do you mind writing a blog on it?

Chirag Sangani said...

For a moment there, I wasn't sure on which side this was treading on the border of serious or satire. Excellent read!

blohani said...

What a pun ! Like it very much.

Dheeraj Sanghi said...

Thanks everyone. @Ankur, I will try to write about it in the coming week.

mchellia said...

How can
1. students be immersed into experiential learning?

2. faculty members publish in leading global conferences in their sphere of research?

3. academia collaboration with industry be mutually beneficial?

Answers to these questions may be key for IITs in particular to go up in quality, kaing it to top ranks in such polls or not! Hoping to hear your insights in this regard.

Yogi Raj said...

Excellent remark, Sir! Your satiric expression have real meaningful depths!

Shishir said...

@Dheeraj, I congratulate you on your discovering innovative ways to maximise the efficiencies of educational system and institute so that output of it could be rated few notches higher without really putting any inputs in terms of effort, resources and the like. I'm sure this paper of yours will be very well cited in Indian educational system and will prove to a milestone in the field of Indian education in coming years.
However , I've a different submission on the issue which begs to differ from your point of view.

It is a sinful thinking that so called good education is required for human development. What is human development? In fact since we all have to die in the end ,what is the point! We should not put ourselves in this rat race of who is ahead or behind. We must take care of our souls. It is not good for our souls to worry about a mere ranking of the universities. We must rise above all this 'Maya'.
If worry we must, then we should worry about 'Nirvana'.
Hence, let's not waste our time and effort on things like improvement,holistic studies, citation index, quality and the like.

Saurabh Joshi said...

Great satirical article! I have an idea about how to feel good about ourselves. Imagine ranks as points. That way MIT would have only 1 point where as IIT Delhi would be far ahead with 212 points. I am sure IIT Kanpur is even ahead in terms of these points. Taking an inverse helps sometimes :-)!

Ankur Kulkarni said...

One point that did not sink in earlier. I am happy that an IIT faculty member is unhappy with the rank. That is the first step to improve the rank.

Prashant said...

Brilliantly put and you are so very correct in your prediction about the kind of excuses which will pour in.

Not sure if you have seen this video of the HRD minister imply that the lack of foreign faculty and students led to this :

NDTV Video (check the part around 2:20)

Vijayant Singh said...

Well said, let me congratulate you for touching upon the topic - albeit on the QS' cue (pun not intended :-)).

The Indian "Universities" are terribly lacking in funding and autonomy.

How ironical is the fact that once a premier university -- Benares Hindu University, which has three major institutes (IT-BHU, Institute of Medical Sciences and Institute of Agricultural Sciences plus three of the largest Arts, Science and Law faculties -- science faculty was also being made into Institute of Science once I hear) has less annual budget than that of IIT Kanpur.

So much has been the government interference in the functioning of IT-BHU, that they found it prudent to break away from BHU and become an IIT (twice over, once in 70s and now), thereby weakening the university altogether.

There's only one way to move forward:

0 - deglamourise, at least normalize the wow factor of sciences, arts, technology, others

1 - make huge investments in the traditional university system, instead of pigeonholing the education to "Institute" syndrome

2 - grant equal autonomy to at least the central universities. Increase the PhD stipend to INR 50k p.m

3 - do away with the allocation of seats at the beginning of the degree (in BS)

4 - allow multiple degrees in a single academic tenure to bright kids

5 - do away with stupid equations like MSc <=> BTech <=> MA/MBA/MCA etc. No two courses can be equivalent, ever! What's a PhD in Science equivalent to then... MTech perhaps? Ridiculus!

6 - give multinational companies and labs incentives/tax breaks when they hire masters/doctoral students, they'll hire them only when they take quality work to India, which in turn would increase the employ-ability of advanced degree holders... and so on, it's infectious and self healing process

7 - totally de-subsidize undergrad education -- at least for the well offs; heavily subsidize graduate education and make it a 10 year plan to break into the top 10 universities of the world (even w/o the internationalization criteria)

8 - have at least 5-6 Professors like Dr. H.V Sahasrabuddhe, Dr. R Sankar, Prof Keshav V Nori, Mr. Sanghi etc., who are passionate about the education in general in all the universities (not the institutes), and empower them to take bold calls

9 - that'll be all for now, as it's Utopian enough (most definitely laughed away by the ministers who quite naively talk about (Physics/Chem/Eco/Lit./Medicine) Nobel from IITs with their puny & street-urchin-like little Science faculties)


Sunil Bajpai said...

Great post! Will wait for the next one you've promised to Ankur!!