QS World University Rankings 2021

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Context: 17th edition of the QS World University Rankings has been released. Recently, QS World University Rankings 2021 shows a decline in the rankings of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc). Only the newer IITs in Guwahati and Hyderabad have shown some improvement.

Mains: GS II- Issues relating to the development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.


QS World University Rankings
  • Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) is a leading global career and education network for ambitious professionals looking to further their personal and professional development.
  • QS develops and successfully implements methods of comparative data collection and analysis used to highlight institutions’ strengths.
  • The ‘QS World University Rankings’ is an annual publication of university rankings that comprises the global overall and subject rankings.
  • Previously, it was called Times Higher Education – QS World University rankings. The name changed since 2010.
  • It is the only international ranking to have received the approval of the International Ranking Expert Group (IREG).
  • It rates the world's top 1000 universities.

  • Six parameters and their weightage for the evaluation:
    • Academic Reputation (40%)
    • Employer Reputation (10%)
    • Faculty/Student Ratio (20%)
    • Citations per faculty (20%)
    • International Faculty Ratio (5%)
    • International Student Ratio (5%)
Performance of Indian Institutions
  • Top three from India featured in the top 200 and their rankings:
    • Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay (172), followed closely by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore (185), and IIT Delhi (193). However, all three have dropped in their rankings compared to the last year.
    • Only three educational institutes from India, the IIT Bombay (172), IISc Bengaluru (185) and IIT Delhi (193) feature in the top 200 list.
  • In total, 21 Indian higher education institutions have found their place among the world’s top 1,000 (It was 24 last year). Of these 21, 14 have fallen in rank over the past 12 months, while four have improved their position.
  • In private universities, BITS Pilani and the Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) have dropped out of the top 1,000 list, but OP Jindal Global University has climbed to the 650-700 band in the rankings.
  • Indian higher education institutions perform strongly in research quality, even though they fail to increase their academic standing, teaching capacity, and levels of internationalization at the same rate as their global competitors.
  • Despite the Centre's flagship Institutes of Eminence (IoE) scheme to boost the Indian presence in these global rankings, the total number of Indian institutions in the top 1,000 global list has fallen from 24 to 21.
Reasons for the poor performance of Indian institutions
  • Out of the six parameters, Indian institutions get zero scores on the ratio of international faculty and students while scoring well on research impact, measured through citations per faculty.
  • India also scores poorly on faculty-student ratio because of counting only full-time faculty whereas American universities include Ph.D. students who are teaching or are research assistants.
  • Indian academics have focused on that if a parameter comparing the cost of education to students is introduced, Indian institutions would be among the world’s top 50.
  • The government should launch a campaign for improving educational institutes, similar to Incredible India which promotes tourism in India and engages with travelers.
    • Success should be based on five pillars:
      • Not-for-profit status.
      • Strong commitment to faculty hiring and research.
      • Focus on internationalisation.
      • Devotion to humanities and social sciences.
      • Drive to build a reputation through students and employers.
Institutions of Eminence Scheme
  • About:
    • It is a government's scheme to provide the regulatory architecture for setting up or upgrading of 20 Institutions (10 from the public sector and 10 from the private sector) as world-class teaching and research institutions called ‘Institutions of Eminence’.
  • Objectives:
    • Excellence and Innovation:
      • To provide for higher education leading to excellence and innovations in such branches of knowledge as may be deemed fit at post-graduate, graduate, and research degree levels.
    • Specialization:
      • To engage in areas of specialization to make distinctive contributions to the objectives of the university education system.
    • Global Rating:
      • To aim to be rated internationally for its teaching and research as a top hundred Institution in the world over time.
    • Quality teaching and Research:
      • To provide for high-quality teaching and research and for the advancement of knowledge and its dissemination.
  • Benefits:
    • Autonomy:
      • Institutes with IoE tag will be given greater autonomy and freedom to decide fees, course durations, and governance structures.
    • Grant:
      • The public institutions under the IoE tag will receive a government grant of Rs 1,000 crore, while the private institutions will not get any funding under the scheme.


Way Forward
  • The perception about India and its education standards play a major role that cannot be changed by an individual institution so all of the universities and institutes have to come together to tackle the issue.
  • To regain lost ground, Indian higher education must find ways of increasing teaching capacity and of attracting more talented students and faculty across the world to study and work in India.

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