In the recently announced QS World Universities Rankings 2023, Indian higher educational institutions have done their best to date. Soaring over a hundred places, seven universities have made a grand entry this year, while 17 universities ascended and 17 others stood unwavering on their previous year’s position as the world’s top higher educational institutions. The 20 per cent increase in new entrants has pushed India up the ladder.
India has set the stage for superior quality and world-recognised tertiary education with 41 universities being ranked in QS World Universities 2023. The world’s largest and most remarkable annual survey of academic opinion, the QS rankings evaluate a university’s performance by measuring the sentiments of academic stakeholders over six performance indicators — academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty/student ratio, citations per faculty (CpF), international faculty ratio, and international student ratio.
The 19th edition of the rankings draws a stronger picture of India. Nine institutions of eminence are ranked in the top 1,000, five in the top 500, and three in the top 200. Five of the declared public institutions of eminence have a higher rank than in previous editions (IIS, IITB, IITD, IITM, and IIT-KGP), while two have declined (University of Delhi and University of Hyderabad), and one stands unchanged (Banaras Hindu University). In the prestigious band of the top 200 are the Indian Institute of Science (155), IIT-Bombay at 172nd, and IIT-Delhi at 174th globally, moving up 31, five, and 11 places respectively from the previous year’s score. IIT-Indore debuts at an impressive 396th rank globally among the new entrants. The University of Madras lands in the 541-550 band, while Chandigarh University (800-1000) is the youngest university to secure a spot on the list.
QS surveyed 99,000 employers and hiring managers globally whose opinions inform the QS’ Employer Reputation (AR) metric. Two national universities, IIT-Bombay and IIT-Delhi have broken records to feature among the top 100 in the AR metric, ranking 59th and 72nd respectively and improving their rank year over year. Along with this, five institutions featured in the top 500 have risen rapidly in the rankings. It is historic that after a gap of 10 years all Indian institutions in the top 500 have improved their ranking.
Indian universities have established a significant global standing in the QS World Rankings 2023, with the highlight being the improved faculty/student ratio, citation per faculty, international student admissions and male/female student enrolment ratio. All this has happened due to the conscious efforts of the government towards improving the standards of higher education.
The central government’s historic decision to bring in the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, 34 years after the previous policy, reflects greatly on the vision, aspirations and farsightedness of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his relentless pursuit of reforming the education system and bridging the gap between current learning outcomes and those desired, while recognising the need to keep up with a rapidly-changing world and knowledge landscape.
The globalisation of education has transformed the way institutional excellence is measured. The elite status of world-class universities now also relies on international recognition from university rankings.
The results are significant, no doubt, and it is equally important to acknowledge that the change has not been brought overnight. It took the Prime Minister years of work and consultations with thousands of educators, policymakers, and members of civil society. This effort has been highly aspirational in the way it aims to tackle brain drain. The Prime Minister has said that NEP will tackle brain drain by paving the “way for opening campuses of best international institutions in the country to bring them within reach of youth from simple families”. The government has been taking long strides towards realising the dreams, which were unfathomable a decade ago. However, there are also a number of areas that call for immediate attention of the government.
The first one is the state expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP. Then comes issues of mobility of international faculty and students. India’s spending on research has been low for decades. Lastly, India doesn’t have education penetration to the last mile, but that is something which the government aims to rectify through its target of achieving a 50 per cent Gross Enrolment Ratio by the year 2035 against 26.3 per cent in 2018, as envisaged in the NEP. The Modi government should address these issues to make India’s education system strong, inclusive, and equitable.
This article first appeared in the print edition on June 10, 2022 under the title ‘Turnaround story’.
The writer is Associate Director (International Affairs),Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi