THE Indian Institute of Technology (IITs), widely regarded as one of a handful of Indian institutions that are among the best in the world, may not be all that great any more. That is, if the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) is to be believed.
For the first time in nine years, not a single IIT figures in the ranking of the top 500 universities in the world. The sole representative of the IITs, IIT Kharagpur, which has seen its ranking fall steadily over the past few years, has been dropped altogether from the 2011 list released last week.
This leaves just one Indian university on the long list — Indian Institute of Science (IISc).
This, certainly, is the kind of news the IITs could do without right now — especially with Jairam Ramesh, himself an alumnus, recently saying the standard at the IITs had dropped, and the recent debate on the lack of research being produced by these premier institutions.
“We are aware that our institute no longer figures on the (ranking) list. We are trying to explore why this has happened,” said B. K. Mathur, dean of planning and coordination at IIT Kharagpur, not wishing to comment further on the issue.
The ARWU is prepared and released by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University every year. It focuses mainly on a university’s achievements in scientific research and was the first global ranking of universities when it made its debut in 2003. IIT, Kharagpur, has featured in every edition of ARWU ever since it started, except this year. IIT, Delhi, was the only other IIT that ever made it to the list, but only once, in 2003.
ARWU is prepared based on a number of parameters, which include the frequency of publication in top journals such as the Nature and Science magazines.
The number of citations in articles appearing in these top journals and the number of Nobel prizes and Fields medals won by staff and alumni are also taken into account, something which the American universities are pretty good at. Another important consideration is per capita performance with respect to the size of an institution.
The limelight, predictably, has been hogged by American universities. Eight out of the 10 best varsities in the world, as per the ranking, are from the United States with Harvard University, Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology occupying the first, second and third positions, respectively.
But the IIT fraternity doesn’t see its exclusion as something that would dent the image or perception of the premier institutes of engineering. “Every ranking has different parameters of judging universities, which may not be suitable for Indian institutions. The Academic Ranking of World Universities, I know, looks at the number of Nobel laureates produced by a university,” said Gautam Barua, director, IIT Guwahati.
According to leading researcher Goverdhan Mehta, a shift in rank, up or down a grading list, should not distract the IITs from focusing on the real problem plaguing them right now.
“I am not a firm believer in such global rankings, but any hardcore researcher or academician knows that though IITs produce the best engineers, the research work done here is not of the same standard. That is the problem that one should focus on right now,” he said.
We completely agree with you Mr. Barua. What is your opinion on this FaaDoOS??
Article Credits: Mail Today