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EducationWorld Higher Education Rankings 2018-19

Against the backdrop of the Union government publishing its slipshod National Institutional Ranking Framework 2018 league tables in early April, we present the EWHE Rankings 2018 rating and ranking the country’s Top 1oo private universities, engineering institutes, multi-disciplinary colleges and B-schools - Dilip Thakore

ALTHOUGH ITS ACTS OF OMISSION and commission in early childhood and primary education are causing great damage to the foundations of India’s fragile K-12 education system defined by a few thousand high quality private and Central government schools in an ocean of 1.20 million mediocre to dysfunctional state and local government schools countrywide, following widespread criticism of poor learning outcomes in the country’s 39,000 undergraduate colleges and 800 universities from the media, especially EducationWorld, the BJP/NDA government at the Centre has initiated some overdue reforms in higher education. 

On December 31 last year, President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to a radically re-written Indian Institutes of Management Bill, 2017, which confers substantial autonomy on the country’s 20 Central government-promoted IIMs and empowers them to award degrees instead of postgraduate diplomas as they have been compelled to do for the past half century. “Through this Bill, we will remove all interference of the government, bureaucracy in the functioning of the IIMs. They will themselves decide how to manage and run these premier institutes,” Union human resource development (HRD) minister Prakash Javadekar said while moving the Bill in the Rajya Sabha on December 19. An earlier version of the Bill drafted under the direction of former HRD minister Smriti Irani which severely circumscribed the autonomy of the IIMs, caused an uproar within the academy and was forensically criticised by EducationWorld (see archives) and resulted in Irani’s transfer from the HRD to the Union textiles ministry in July 2016. 

More recently following sustained criticism of the asphyxiating control of the University Grants Commission (UGC, estb.1956) — a Soviet-style institution which closely regulates all non-technical (arts, science, commerce) tertiary education institutions (technical education is equally stringently regulated by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) — Javadekar announced devolution of substantial administrative and curriculum autonomy upon five Central, 21 state, 24 deemed and two private universities awarded high accreditation by NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation Council). These chosen institutions of higher education now have the freedom to introduce new study programmes, design their own fee structures, establish satellite learning centres, start skill development courses and establish research units. 

Moreover, they also have the freedom to hire foreign faculty, enroll foreign students, determine faculty remuneration, sign academic collaboration agreements with Indian and foreign institutions and run distance-learning programmes. Such institutional autonomy, normative in all democracies, was hitherto denied to all higher ed institutions — and continues to be denied to the great majority of the country’s colleges and universities. This perhaps explains why none of the country’s 800 universities are ranked in the Top 200 World University Rankings league tables published annually by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) and Times Higher Education, the London-based globally respected higher education institutions rating and ranking agencies. 

That the BJP/NDA government has some appetite for higher education reform is also indicated by the introduction in 2016 of the HRD ministry’s NIRF (National Institutional Ranking Framework) league tables which rank the country’s Top 100 universities, colleges and professional colleges (engineering, business management, medical, pharmacy, architecture and law). Every April, the ministry publishes its annual NIRF league tables which because they are ‘official’ rankings, generate considerable but unwarranted excitement in academia and the media. But inevitably, the rating and ranking methodology employed by the HRD ministry is slipshod. 

For one, the onus of ‘participation’ in the NIRF is dependent upon colleges and universities furnishing extensive documentation (‘data files’) within prescribed deadlines. Therefore, several reputed universities including University of Mumbai (estb. 1857) are unranked for the second consecutive year. Moreover none of the new-gen private varsities like Ashoka and O.P. Jindal universities, which are generating great excitement within the country’s post-liberalisation middle class, are ranked among the Top 100 universities in NIRF 2018.

It’s also pertinent to note that the detailed documentation required to be submitted by all participating higher ed institutions is self generated. The NIRF website features the disclaimer “responsibility for accuracy and authenticity of data files with concerned institution”. Even data related to perception details — one of the five parameters on which higher education institutions are ranked in the NIRF league tables — is required to be submitted by participating institutions. In short, no effort is made by the HRD ministry to validate or authenticate the data submitted by the participating institutions while rating and ranking them inter se. 

Against this backdrop of the Union government having initiated publication of its indigenous slipshod NIRF league tables, we present the annual EducationWorld Higher Education Rankings 2018-19. On the premise that other higher education league tables tend to be dominated by heavily subsidised government institutions demanding sky-high cut-off percentages in school-leaving examinations and admitting a tiny percentage of applicants, we believe the public needs to learn which of the country’s new-genre private higher ed institutions provide the best undergrad and professional education. Although routinely denounced by left academics and jholawallas as “commercialised” — a pejorative in leftist lexicon — the plain truth is that the best among India’s much maligned private professional colleges and universities provide high quality education charging arguably the lowest tuition fees levied by private institutions worldwide. Therefore, we believe the public interest is well-served by rating and ranking them inter se to enable school-leavers who can’t make the cut to enter the Top 100 government higher education institutions or venture abroad, to evaluate other options. 

However in a departure from past practice and mindful of public feedback that the great majority of the country’s estimated 39 million school-leavers enter arts, science and commerce colleges, this year we have expanded our survey to rank the country’s Top 100 multidisciplinary undergraduate colleges. Moreover responding to public demand, despite the inevitability of the Central government’s pampered and heavily subsidised IIMs dominating the B-school rankings, they have been rated and ranked by our knowledgeable sample respondents this year. Consequently, this year the EWHE Rankings which were hitherto restricted to rating and ranking private institutions of higher education and aroused the ire and contempt of left academics and jholawallas, also include government B-schools and undergrad colleges, although the universities and engineering colleges league tables continue to be restricted to private institutions. 

“To conduct the EWHE Rankings 2018-19, separate sample respondents databases had to be constituted for private universities and engineering institutes, B-schools and arts, science and commerce colleges. Therefore this year, the number of respondents interviewed by our field personnel over a period of four months was much larger, aggregating 10,264. Moreover, great care and diligence was invested in selecting sample respondents for each category. In addition, the parameters under which institutions are rated for this exercise were also carefully selected by highly knowledgeable and respected academics. I am confident the EWHE Rankings 2018-19 league tables provide a reliable and accurate evaluation of the relative merits of the country’s Top 100 multidisciplinary arts, science and commerce colleges, private universities, private engineering colleges and B-schools,” says Premchand Palety, an alumnus of Punjab Engineering College and the Fore School of Management, Delhi, former senior manager of ORG (Organisation & Research Group), India’s pioneer market research agency, and founder-director of the Centre for Forecasting & Research Pvt. Ltd (C fore, estb. 2000), which conducts the annual EWHE Rankings. A highly respected market research and opinion polls company, C fore’s client list includes Nestle, NDTV, Mint and the Congress party. 

In the pages following, we present the EducationWorld Higher Education Rankings 2018-19 league tables rating and ranking the country’s Top 100 undergraduate arts, science and commerce colleges, private universities and engineering colleges, and B-schools. For the convenience of readers and to enable them to evaluate the most suitable higher education institutions, state and city and parameter ranking tables are also presented.