With Indian educational institutes sliding on global academic rankings, Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani on Tuesday pushed the idea of a national ranking system that will factor in domestic considerations — much like the one China has.
In her first meeting with state education secretaries, Irani called for “a National Framework of Ranking of Universities and Colleges suited to the local conditions, circumstances and requirements”.
This came on a day she presented the first copy of the ‘QS University Rankings: BRICS 2014’ featuring the top 200 universities to the PM. While no Indian institute figures among the top 10 in this list, there are six from China.
Interestingly, China already has its own rankings — the Shanghai rankings — that evaluates domestic as well as international institutes.
The idea of a national ranking framework is in line with recommendations by a committee of IIT directors on the issue of rankings. The panel had suggested that while it was important for Indian institutes to participate in global rankings, there was a greater need for India to devise its own domestic ranking that factors in India-specific criteria.
It has been argued that global rankings fail to factor in issues like affirmative action by Indian institutes and give huge weightage to criteria like number of international students and faculty, which inevitably favour institutes in western and developed nations.
Irani also said there was a need for a Rashtriya Aavishkar Abhiyaan. Sources said this will be a mission aimed at encouraging research and innovation from school to university levels. While one part of this mission will look at incentivising, with greater funding of new inventions and innovations right from the district level, the other aspect will be to sensitise institutes as well as students on the need for patenting research and publishing research papers.
Within days of stating that she would replicate the Gujarat education model in the country, the minister also told the state education secretaries that there was a need to replicate the ‘Shaala Deep Programme’ of schools in colleges. Sources said this is a Gujarat schooling model that allows greater transparency and parent participation in schools.
Irani, who is also a Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat, in fact visited Gandhinagar over the weekend where she participated in the ‘Shala Praveshotsav’ — a student enrolment drive in Gujarat schools initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he was the chief minister. Irani also visited the state’s educational institutes.
In keeping with the promise in both the BJP manifesto and the President’s address, Irani also announced that the new Central University for Himalayan Technology will soon be set up in Uttarakhand and the Ntaional e-library will come up by year end.
The state education secretaries were heard out on all their sector-specific concerns, with Kerala pressing again for an IIT in the state.