Joining the Ranks: NIRF Rankings

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A country in which 65 out of the top 100 rankers in JEE Adv choose IIT Bombay over 17 other premier IITs only goes to show the quality and prestige associated with IIT-B. But, in the recent Ranking System Framework for Higher Educational Institutions of India released by the Ministry for Human Resource Development (MHRD) IIT-B was ranked second, only to IIT Madras. IIT-B is not new to finishing behind its sister IITs with IIT Delhi surpassing it in the international QS rankings last year.
A major question which arises here is on what parameters and metrics were these rankings decided and how apt are these considered parameters at appraising the institutes. Another question we try to answer is how seriously does IIT-B as an institute take these rankings and what does it think about the parameters. Also, it is important to analyse where does IIT-B lag in these parameters and what steps, if any, is the institute undertaking to improve on them.

Teaching, Learning and Resources (TLR) Outreach and Inclusivity (OI) Research Productivity, Impact and IPR (RPII) Graduation Outcome (GO Perception (PR)
1. Faculty Student Ratio – Permanent Faculty 1. Outreach Footprint (Continuing Education, Services) 1. Combined Metric for Publications 1. Performance in University Examinations 1. Process for Peer Rating in Category and Applications to Seat Ratio
2. Faculty Student Ratio – Visiting Faculty 2. Percentage of Students from Other States / Countries 2. Combined Metric for Citations 2. Performance in Public Examinations
3. Metric for Faculty with Ph.D. and Experience 3. Percentage of Women Students and Faculty 3. Intellectual Property Right and Patents 3. Performance in Placement, Higher Studies and Entrepreneurship
4.Metric for Library, Studio & Laboratory Facilities 4. Percentage of Economically and Socially Disadvantaged Students 4. % of Collaborative Publications and Patents 4. Mean Salary for Employment
5.Metric for Sports and Extracurricular Facilities 5. Facilities for Physically Challenged / Differently Abled Persons 5. Footprint of Projects and Professional Practice
6.Metric for Teaching and Innovation


A major slump can be observed in the categories of Outreach and Inclusivity (OI) such as percentage of students from other states/countries, percentage of women students and faculty in the institut and facilities provided for the differently abled students among others. IIT-B also lagged behind on Teaching, Learning and resources (TLR) which includes factors like faculty student ratio and Graduation Outcome (GO) which includes performance in university and public examinations post graduation and mean salary for employment. Apart from these, IIT-B seems to perform well in other areas such as Research, Productivity, Impact and Perception.

Comparing this data with the ‘top 5’ IITs in the country, it can be easily observed that most IITs seem to do well in some categories while seem to fare poorly in some others. Madras manages to maintain a low standard deviation and a high average on the rankings of individual categories and hence manages to secure the first spot. IIT Kharagpur, Delhi and Kanpur follow Bombay on the list. Surprisingly (or maybe not) IIT Ropar ranks 1st in the TLR category, argued as ‘a new IIT has better quality infrastructure and facilities than a relatively older counterpart’ by Narayan Rangaraj, Dean AP, IIT-B.

Fairly speaking, there are certain areas in which the institute administration can actively work towards improving the conditions whereas in some it cannot change much.
For instance, one aspect on which the authorities must work upon is the facilities for the physically challenged students. This could be achieved by having more handicap-friendly internal transportation systems, classrooms, hostels and other facilities. Newer IITs have been recently established and,therefore are more likely to have better infrastructure. These rankings highlight the fact that even though older IITs are well equipped and maintained, there are infrastructural problems that need to be resolved.

As far as issues like number of women on campus and students from different states are concerned, there is little control that the institute has over this since the admissions are purely based on performance in the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE), where discrimination based on gender, caste or religion is non-existent. However, the same cannot be argued about PhD admissions which are based on interviews.

The metric used to judge the student faculty interaction is mostly based on quantity and not directly on quality. Quality is checked by performance at the workplace which can depend a lot on the personal effort of the student as compared to the quality of teaching.

After speaking to the Dean AP and Prof Soumyo Mukherjee, Dean of Student Affairs (DoSA) IIT-B, it was quite clear that the institute does not give much importance to these rankings as it believes in improving the overall environment and facilities for students to study in the institute, rather than worrying about faring well in the existing plethora of rankings. However, it seems to agree with the parameters used in judging the institutes and is of the opinion of taking elementary steps in betterment of areas where the institute lacks. According to the DoSA, ‘The number of students taking admission at IIT-B won’t change drastically due to these rankings and since the nature of the rankings is not purely academic, the quality of education offered cannot be judged sufficiently well based solely on these rankings’. So while they don’t completely dismiss the rankings and still consider certain parameters important, there is little they can do about it.

An excerpt from the official document says:
‘On the down side, the associated learning has been that educational institutions have to be more careful about the data. Many institutions failed to put their best foot forward, when it came to supplying quality data. The point being emphasized here is “quality”. Some of the institutions were definitely casual in supplying the data sought. Reliability of an exercise like this depends entirely on the reliability of the data. This is clearly an area in which further work is needed.’

‘Incomplete knowledge is dangerous’ they say and rightly so. Certainly the accuracy and efficiency of these rankings can be questioned based on this text however assuming that the data provided is fairly accurate, it is really important to know on what these rankings are based, how IIT-B ranked in individual categories and how it can improve in the areas it lacks in. A blind decision as to which IIT to choose just based on the rankings and not looking into the metrics of the system would not be a wise decision.

1. Ranking-Framework-for-Engineering-Institutions
2. nirf_booklet