Institute Ranking System: The Tribune India

The National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF) manages to create a buzz in the media; and the ranks of some of these higher education institutions are often surprising. While it is commendable that the government promotes a benchmark based primarily on objective indicators, it is concerning that this does not serve the purpose of improving learning standards. Overzealousness in ticking the right boxes can yield results that are inconsistent with the reality on the ground, raising questions about the fairness and reliability of assessment metrics. For some, the rankings are at best indicative of an institute’s response to the NIRF questionnaire.

The impact of NIRF rankings on improving student enrollment is also considered limited. It largely depends on reputation, fee structure, infrastructural facilities, location, and search results. India having its own global ranking system may be a work in progress, but ultimately quality and vastly improved standards are what will bring international students and faculty to the country, not hollow validation based on scores that project a distorted image. Connecting with industry will happen when research leads to better results. This requires liberal funding for promising institutions, whether or not they appear at the top of the rankings, ending the foolish exercise of producing worthless amateur research papers just to gain extra credit or help an individual acquire a diploma.

The idea behind rankings should be to inform decisions, not drive admissions. As the NIRF evolves and involves more institutions, the advice of foreign and Indian experts should be of immense help, in addition to an honest review of its performance, shortcomings and additional parameters that ‘it must integrate, such as the financial health and the size of the institution. The success of the effort lies in how beneficial it can be for students.

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