Indian institutions 10% of list, but do not make the cut for the top 10

Panjab University has overtaken the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) to become the highest-ranked educational institution of the country in the first-ever ranking of universities in BRICS and emerging economies.

The 131-year-old university, which happens to be the alma mater of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, emerged 13th in the ranking carried out by Times Higher Education magazine. It shares this position with Renmin University of China.

Indian institutions account for 10 per cent of the list but do not make the cut for the top 10, which is comprised by varsities of China, South Africa, Taiwan, Turkey and Russia. Besides the five BRICS countries, universities from 17 other emerging economies were ranked.

Under embargo

With the rankings released to the press under strict embargo for publication well after midnight Indian Standard Time, Panjab University did not have an official reaction but its Vice-Chancellor Arun Kumar Grover told The Hindu that his institution has been a premier one even pre-Independence, when it was located in Lahore. Pleased with the ranking, Mr. Grover maintained that Panjab University had a lot of catching up to do to achieve the standards of the top-ranking Peking University.

China leads the pack

According to a release put out by Times Higher Education, China has emerged as the higher education superpower among BRICS economies with 23 institutions in the rankings compared to India’s 10, South Africa’s five, Brazil’s four and Russia’s two.

Nine Indian institutions find a spot among the top 50 ranks, with the IITs coming a distant second to Panjab University.

The six IITs that made it to the rankings are Kharagpur (30), Kanpur (34), Delhi (37), Roorkee (37), Guwahati (46) and Madras (47). IIT-Madras shares its position with Jadavpur University while Aligarh Muslim University stands at 50 and JNU at 57.

‘India must aim higher’

In his analysis about India’s performance, Times Higher Education’s rankings editor Phil Baty, said: “This is a strong showing for India: Only China and Taiwan have more universities in the top 100.” While maintaining that it highlighted the nation’s real strengths in competition with countries that offer fair comparisons, Mr. Baty admitted that a country of India’s size, growing wealth and “immensely rich intellectual history” should aspire to more.

Mr. Baty also quoted from a recent report brought out by FICCI in collaboration with Ernst & Young on India’s higher education, as per which the country could provide one in four of the world’s graduates and possess more than 20 of its top 200 universities by 2030. “But this can only be achieved with the right financial support, leadership and strategy.”