'Business as usual': NIRF no different from global rankings, say former education officials

SS Mantha and Ashok Thakur wrote, “NIRF seems to be committing the same sin that the global rankings systems were once accused of - a one-size-fits-all approach”.

'Business as usual': NIRF no different from global rankings, say former education officials
Team Careers360 | Oct 6, 2021 - 12:50 p.m. IST
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NIRF Ranking 2021: “There has been a big upset with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) being dislodged by IIT Madras as the top institute in the country. Apart from this, the rest seemed business as usual,” SS Mantha, former AICTE chairman and Ashok Thakur, former education secretary, Ministry of Human Resource Development wrote about NIRF rankings in an opinion piece for The Indian Express.

Union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan on September 9 declared the sixth annual National Institutional Ranking Framework India ranking 2021 (NIRF India ranking 2021) at nirfindia.org.

Also read | NIRF Ranking 2021: Can't compare IITs, IISc with BHU, says BHU director

The NIRF India Ranking 2021 of universities and colleges were done based on these six parameters - teaching, learning and resources (TLR), research and professional practice (RP), graduation outcomes (GO), outreach and inclusivity (OI), peer perception.

Saying that the above parameters were not sufficient to rank universities and colleges, Mantha and Thakur raised several questions such as “how can we include the skills that an institution/university imparts to its students as one of the important ingredients? Should the financial health and size of the institution not be a criterion?”

Last year, seven IITs- IIT Bombay, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Madras and Roorkee - decided to boycott THE- World University Rankings stating that they had doubts over the ranking parameters and transparency in the process.

NIRF Ranking: 'One-size-fits-all approach'

Providing a possible solution, they wrote, “Ideally, an objective function must be defined for an institution, with the desired attributes as variables and weightage apportioned to each such attribute that depends on their importance in the overall value proposition that the institute serves.”

They also pointed out that the state university budget allocations are much lower than the IITs and central universities.

Calling the Indian education system as diverse and large, they said there are at least 20 global ranking agencies, and “NIRF seems to be committing the same sin that the global rankings systems were once accused of — a one-size-fits-all approach”.

After the NIRF rankings 2021 was announced Anil K Tripathi, director of the Institute of Science, Banaras Hindu University (BHU) criticised the parameters used to rank institutions. Highlighting the lacunae in the NIRF ranking 2021 process, he said that BHU can’t be compared with IIT, IISc Bangalore as they have vast differences in terms of students, teachers, disciplines.

While Delhi University acting vice-chancellor PC Joshi said that low student-teacher ratio could be one of the reasons behind DU slipping from 11th to 12th rank this year in the NIRF rankings.

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