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The MHRD released its annual ranking for national institutes under the National Institutional Ranking Framework on the 3rd of April. IIT-Bombay was ranked third in the overall category, following IISc Bangalore and IIT-Madras, second in Engineering behind IIT-Madras and fifth in the Management category. The rankings were released for the third time, starting in 2016.
The framework evaluates the performance of an institute on 5 parameters:
Teaching, Learning, and Resources (TLR)
Research and Professional Practice (RPC)
Graduation Outcome (GO)
Outreach and Inclusivity (OI)
This year, IIT-B showed an improvement in the overall score from 71.78/100 to 79.20/100. With an improvement in its score for Teaching, Research, and Graduation Outcome. But a drastic drop was observed in the Outreach and Inclusivity category, which essentially is an index for social diversity in the campus. One outstanding feature for IIT-B in this year’s ranking was its inclusion in Management Institutes, and being ranked 5th, above many of the popular IIMs.
With that being said, NIRF faced criticism of its own which includes being accused of playing favourites with Government Institutions (like the IIT’s), and not having a credible basis of comparison between Institutes of various specializations. The government has also made it mandatory for Institutes to take part in the rankings from next year, or face cuts in central grants.
On speaking with the Dean SA, Prof. Soumyo Mukherji, he commented that IIT-B’s steps of improvement are not based directly on rankings, but with a general goal of progress in minds of the administration. He also commented on the recent origins of NIRF, adding that the parameters used and the process, in general, is still evolving. He emphasized the consideration of country-specific inputs in the parameters.
Let’s take a closer on the parameters used to rank universities and IIT-B’s standing in each. Starting with Intellectual Property Rights and Patents, over 360 patents have been published, and over 5800 academic papers in the past three years (2017, 2016, 2015). Compared to near 4900 publications a year back (2016, 2015, 2014). Reaffirming the exceptional research performed in the campus, and the continuous growth. The Institute surprisingly also fared well for the Faculty-Student ratio. These culminating in a general upward trend in Research and Academics.
The rankings have also revealed gaps in the campus, in particular, lack of facilities for physically disabled students. These gaps can be chalked up to the aged infrastructure of many of the institute. But improvements are underway, as nearly 100 rooms and some bathrooms in Hostels 17 and 18 each will be modified so as to be suitable for the physically challenged. As for other hostels and department buildings, the Dean SA said that gaining permissions from BMC for retrofitting, as an example in case of elevators, stands as a major issue. We hope that greater strides are taken in the direction, as providing better facilities has been a persistent challenge for the Institute.
Regarding IIT Bombay’s huge strides in management rankings (placed 5th), the Dean SA stated the presence of excellent faculty and foreign exchange programmes of Shailesh J Mehta School of Management to be a major factor. According to the Dean SA, IIT Bombay’s prime location which attracts a better pool of management students might be a contributing factor. On being asked about differences seen in QS rankings and NIRF, he stated that many differences are expected because of a number of different parameters used by QS, the foremost of which is the intake of international students, which IITB lacks when compared to foreign universities. He further emphasized that any increase in exchange students would not be done to improve IITB’s QS rank, rather based on other factors such as exposure and shared experience. He said, ‘If doing something is right, it should be done, not just for the sake of rankings.’ One major difference which we found out between QS and NIRF was that for NIRF, the institutes submit the data to MHRD, while QS rankings are based on surveys carried out by private enterprises.
On bringing up the consistent reduction in Overall Inclusivity score from 2016 (74.84) to 2017 (69.70) to 2018 (44.71), DoSA stated that one of the probable reasons for lesser inclusivity of economically disadvantaged students might be because the students getting admission prepare for exams through coaching classes, which generally charge a heavy sum of money. Since someone not able to afford these facilities might end up with a ‘lower’ ranked IIT, IIT-Bombay’s overall score is affected to some extent.He further added this to be an intrinsic problem with the entrance examinations required for admissions to IITs.
With all this being said, it is expected that any kind of rankings, be it NIRF or QS, can be pointed out as not being wholly accurate, based on shortcomings in the parameters or non-inclusivity of certain regional factors, like and hence should not be considered the final judgement when comparing two institutes.