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Rankings of higher education institutions may improve visibility, not funding

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Economic Times | Prachi Verma, ET Bureau | 8 April, 2016  |

NEW DELHI: India’s first official ranking of higher education institutions may not fetch top institutes funds from the government but outliers such as IIT Hyderabad, IIT Ropar and IIM Udaipur that figure in the top 10 believe it would help them attract global faculty, students, and ultimately funding.  New IITs and IIMs that have ranked better than established counterparts in the recently released India Rankings 2016 stand to gain the most, experts said. “They will get more visibility both within India and outside India,” said Sourav Mukherji, dean-—programmes at IIM Bangalore. “Chances of top performing institutes getting more funds for research should also go up but not immediately,” he said.  Many countries that undertake domestic rankings follow it up with government funding the top rankers. “Funding by the government is usually followed once the domestic rankings are conducted in most other countries. For example, China has been able to improve its global rankings in the last few years with the help of government funding a few of the performing institutes,” said Kylie Chiew, regional solution sales director, research management, at Elsevier Research Solutions.

An insider at the HRD ministry, however, made it clear that it would not be the case in India. Institutions eye funding from elsewhere. “IITs require funds to able to stand out in the world. We have to look at a combination of funding from fee hikes, selling intellectual property and collaboration with the industry for various projects,” said Devang Khakhar, director at IIT Bombay. His counterpart at IIT Ropar, Sarit Kumar Das said, “Institutes with higher ranking will be able to attract projects under initiatives like Make in India, Smart Cities, and IMPRINT. This in turn will lead to funding from government and industry both within and outside India.” IIT Ropar was ranked at No. 9 among the country’s engineering institutes. IIT Hyderabad director Uday B Desai said a good rank will help Indian institutes to improve their perception globally as well as attract global faculty for collaboration. “All of this in turn will help IITs to get more funds but it also depends on the proposals,” he said. Some experts called for government backing of top ranking institutions.

“Globally, countries such as China and the UK have used domestic rankings as a measurement of an institute’s potential thereby linking access to funding and resources. As a country, India needs to emulate such best practices in order to really gain from such initiatives,” said Rohin Kapoor, director at Deloitte in India. Phil Baty, editor of Times Higher Education, a London-based magazine known for its world university rankings, said Indian institutions are strong in many attributes but fall behind in research and funding. “The research strength of the Indian institutions is not as strong as key competitors. This is partly about culture and national priorities, but more than anything it is about funding,” Baty said in an emailed response to ET. Funding is key to attract and retain the finest global faculty talent, he said.  “Indian institutions are prevented from being as globally-focused as their competitors. Universities need to be global magnets for talent, and to share great ideas with the leading scholars and institutions across the world,” he said. Ben Sowter, head of research at QS Quacquarelli Symonds, agreed. “Funding is the fundamental fuel for research, but establishing the right, incorruptible algorithms for the most effective and productive distribution of funding is the challenging part,” Sowter wrote to ET in an email.  – Courtesy


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