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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Awful universities

Another ranking of universities worldwide, another dismal showing from India's universities. Let's set our sights low, so we're only thinking of universities in Asia. What there is from India in this: IITB (39th), IISc (48th), IITM (Rank 99). We are reaping the fruits today of high GDP growth owing to good thinking on higher education in the 1950s and 1960s. Countries like China are doing the right things on higher education today, while India is playing it exactly wrong.


  1. Hi Ajay
    These ranking merely look at the web the website itself warns: "If the web performance of an institution is below the expected position according to their academic excellence, university authorities should reconsider their web policy, promoting substantial increases of the volume and quality of their electronic publications."
    My suspicion is that such a ranking would be inherently biased against smaller universities who have fewer professors and fewer webpages to their names.
    Dartmouth university, for example is 11th ranked in US news best national universities, but places at a low 164th on the webometrics rankings.

  2. What is more appalling is the WORLD RANKINGS: IIT-B (559), IISc (654) and IIT-M (984) !!

  3. What's so surprising about the IIT rankings?

    The quality of the institutions is based on the fact that the best undergraduate students go there not the fact that these institutions produce world-class research.

    There is virtually no research done there, and what little is done is totally mediocre.

    Even the quality of the graduate students is mediocre. Who in their right mind would go there for graduate school compared to MIT, Stanford, etc.?

    On what basis are you expecting them to have higher rankings?

  4. Hai Ajay,
    Wish they got their parameters were right..coz how can they explain AIIMS at a rank of 6276 & XIMB ranked higher than XLRI..??

  5. Ajay,

    These rankings serve no purpose and at best they can be described as misleading. Let me highlight some facts.

    The top Investment banks led by Goldman Sachs hire the cream of talent from IIM's and IIT's, infact they ignore some highly ranked universities in the U.S.

    IISC and ISI- Kolkata produce world class students and the financial services industry goes all out to woo them.

    I am based in Chicago, but let me tell you this, the Indian education system is very good. Being a Chartered Accountant from India, I can tell you emphatically that Indian CA is the most competitive in the world a notch above London CA and CPA in the U.S. I had no difficulties getting thru the financial engg program and the CFA program in the U.S.

    Ask any IIT student, the masters program in the U.S. is a piece of cake. Students from IIT excel in terms of GPA and take less time to complete their PhD Program.

    Just take a look at the employees in Wall Street, almost 90% of the quants have been educated in India, China and Korea and these people are hired for their excellent math skills.

    Kids from India, China,Japan, Korea and Singapore excel in the math and science olympiad. Kids from the U.S. are ranked in the bottom decile in these competitions just ahead of people from South America.

    I do agree that India is lacking in high quality research because we haven't built the infrastructure and the incentives to excel in academic research in the Universities. Privatization of education and an emphasis on cutting-edge reserach coupled with close collaboration with Venture Capital companies and the Industry will drive the improvements in research.

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  7. The website which published this ranking says
    "The original aim of the Ranking was to promote Web publication, not to rank institutions."
    Going by this I dont feel one has to take this ranking seriously.

    But if the methodology of the ranking is to believed the position of IISc. and IITs surprise me a bit.
    There are large number of professors in these colleges who dont have their own webpages,even if they have one it doesnot contain any links to academic papers published by them or working papers related to their area of research neither does it have lecture notes or other teaching material used by them in classes.

    On the hand there are Institutes like Stanford,MIT(which has an impressive open course ware program) whose benefits(thanks to tons of content in their websites) are enjoyed by students who are not so lucky enough to study at these Institutes but still can get a feel of them.

    For lakhs of students in India whose college can neither afford to have good faculty nor subscribe to good journals, Universities like those who appear at top in this ranking and professors in it come to their rescue.Many of projects and assignments in these colleges are completed by referring to such websites of Universties which have better web policy.

    I guess Indian Institutions enjoy high web presence due to their illustrious alumni who don't forget to add link to these institutes in their Personal home page not because of the content which exists in it!!!

  8. The point well taken that the ranking is not really representative of true situation on ground. But the fact of the matter is that higher education is being ignored in India.

    Can you name any institution on par with IITs, IIMs, IISc established in recent times ? IIITs are definitely not in that league. All the best institutes in India have been established way back in 1950s and 1960s.

    There is lot of talk about how young India is and so on. But what are we doing to harness it ? There is so much demand for skilled workforce from various sectors but not enough labor force to fulfill it. This is clearly reflected in rising wages across the board. If the trend continues, we might lose our significant comparative advantage in no time. And this will have adverse implication for growth story.

    Hence to maintain our competitiveness, to increase the opportunities for common man for higher education, we need a bunch of self- sustaining higher educational institutitons.


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