Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings, 2021


    In News

    • The Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings, released recently, did not have a single Indian institution in the top 300. 

    Key Findings

    • Indian:
      • Indian Institute of Science (IISc) is the country’s top-performing institute but is ranked in the 301-350 bracket. It is followed by IIT Ropar and the JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research. Both are in the 351-400 bracket.
      • Overall, India is home to 35 of the world’s top 1,000 universities, its second-highest total ever in the rankings. Last year, it was 36. 
    • Global:
      • A UK institution, the University of Oxford, has taken the top spot for the sixth year running. 
      • The California Institute of Technology and Harvard University are in joint second position. 
      • Mainland China has two institutions in the top 20 for the first time: Peking University and Tsinghua University share 16th place.
        • Mainland China now has the joint fifth-highest number of institutions in the top 200 (up from joint seventh last year), overtaking Canada and on a par with the Netherlands.
      • Institut Polytechnique de Paris is the highest new entry at 95th place, following a merger of five institutions.
      • The US is the most-represented country overall with 183 institutions, and also the most represented in the top 200 (57), although its share of universities in this elite group is falling.
      • Six new countries feature in the table compared with last year: Azerbaijan, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Fiji, Palestine and Tanzania.
      • Harvard University tops the teaching pillar, while the University of Oxford tops the research pillar and Macau University of Science and Technology leads the international pillar.

    (Image Courtesy: Parameters )

    Reason for a boycott by IITs

    • Seven IITs continued boycotting THE World University Rankings.
    • This is the second consecutive year that the IITs in Mumbai, Delhi, Kanpur, Guwahati, Madras, Roorkee and Kharagpur have not participated in THE global rankings. 
    • They had announced their boycott in April last year, citing concerns over transparency after none of them found a place among the world’s best 300 universities. 
    • Before the announcement, the IITs had held two meetings with THE officials to flag issues of “transparency” in the ranking parameters, especially the citation metric
    • They had objected to THE allowing participating institutions to use collaborative research projects to bump up their score on the citation metric. 
    • Such research papers have high citations by virtue of multiple authors associated with them.
    • Hence, an institution that is part of such a project ends up having a disproportionate advantage over others because of one paper that is cited multiple times globally.

    Challenges for Higher Education in India

    • Gap between the Supply and demand: In higher education, India has a low rate of enrolment i.e. gross enrolment ratio (GER), at only 26.3%. 
    • Inadequate Student-Faculty Ratio: In most of the state and central universities more than 30% of faculty positions are lying vacant. While the student enrolment in higher education is growing at a faster rate in the last few years. 
    • Inadequate Infrastructure and Facilities: Apart from the highly recognized higher educational institutes (HEIs) in India, many institutes are running without proper infrastructure, high-end research facilities and basic facilities like library, hostels, transport, sports facility etc. which is desirable to rank the quality institution.
    • Outdated Curriculum: Indian higher education is facing the problem of poor quality of curriculum. In most of the higher educational institutes curriculum is out-dated and irrelevant.
    • Lack of Quality Research work: There is no shortage of funding for the top Indian Institutions such as IITs, IIMs and other institutes of national importance. Due to the limited focus on Research and Internationalization, very few Indian higher educational institutes are globally recognized. 
    • Less Research Papers: The number of Research papers published in India has increased continuously for the past few decades but is reflected in low citation impact if compared with other countries like Germany, United States, France and China. 
    • Low employability: Only a small proportion of Indian graduates are considered employable. Placement outcomes also drop significantly as we move away from the top institutes. Presently there is very little collaboration of higher educational institutes with industries.

    Need For Change

    • Requires transformational approach: There is a need to implement an innovative and transformational approach from primary to higher education level to make the Indian educational system globally more relevant and competitive. 
    • Greater industrial co-operation: In higher educational institutes (HEIs), Industrial co-operation must be there for the development of curriculum, organizing expert lectures, internships, live projects, career counselling and placements.
    • Improve Quality & Credibility: Higher educational institutes (HEIs) need to improve quality, reputation and establish credibility through student exchange, faculty exchange programs, and other collaborations with high-quality national and international higher educational institutes. 
    • Foreign Collaboration: Government must promote collaboration between Indian higher education institutes and top International institutes and also generate linkage between national research laboratories and research centers of top institutions for better quality and collaborative research. 
    • Placement for under-Graduates: There is a need to focus on the graduate students by providing them such courses in which they can achieve excellence, gain deeper knowledge of the subject so that they will get jobs after recruitment in the companies which would reduce unnecessary rush to higher education. 


    Way Ahead

    • For India to emerge as a global innovation hub, the youth of our country, especially in higher education institutions (HEIs) need to play a crucial role to create a sustainable innovation ecosystem. 
    • The Prime Minister of India has declared the decade 2010-20 as the ‘Decade of Innovation’, to unleash the creative potential of every Indian. 
    • Thus, ideally, all HEIs should have a comprehensive and functional mechanism to convert research into innovations.
    • To improve the higher education system, there is a need to improve teaching pedagogy, build synergies between research and teaching, facilitate alliance of higher institutions among themselves, research centres and industries. 

    World University Rankings 2022

    • The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022 include more than 1,600 universities across 99 countries and territories, making them the largest and most diverse university rankings to date.
    • The ranking is based on 13 carefully calibrated performance indicators that measure an institution’s performance across four areas
      • Teaching:
        • Reputation survey
        • Staff-to-student ratio
        • Doctorate-to-bachelor’s ratio
        • Doctorates-awarded-to-academic-staff ratio
        • Institutional income 
      • Research:
        • Reputation survey
        • Research income
        • Research productivity
        • Research influence 
      • Knowledge transfer/Citations metric:
        • Industry Income
      • International outlook:
        • Proportion of international students
        • Proportion of international staff
        • International collaboration
    • This year’s ranking analysed more than 108 million citations across over 14.4 million research publications and included survey responses from almost 22,000 scholars globally. Overall, we collected over 430,000 data points from more than 2,100 institutions that submitted data.


    Source: IE