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A tool to benchmark quality: do global rankings of universities provide an assurance of quality?

Global accreditations enable institutions to get into a cycle of continuous improvement   | Photo Credit: Freepik

According to recent media reports, the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are opting out of the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2021. Only two Indian universities feature among the world’s best 400 universities at a time when the National Education Policy 2020 seeks to transform India into a global knowledge superpower.

Currently, there are more than 15 international rankings for educational institutions, of which the major ones international rankings are the QS Rankings and the THE. The other major one, the Financial Times (FT) Rankings, ranks only management schools and business schools around the globe.

Global rankings measure parameters ranging from process-linked teaching-learning experience to output-linked students’ pay packages and the creation of Intellectual Property. However, these rankings differ widely in the parameters they use (such as research output or reputation among academics and employers) and the weight they assign to each.

Quality assurance

Although the usefulness of such ranking has been disputed, it often serves as a benchmarking tool for educational institutions, helping them identify important areas for improvement. Ranking and accreditation are two different forms of quality assurance. They provide information to students, employers, policy makers, educationalists, and concerned individuals. For universities and business schools around the world, global accreditations enable them to get into a cycle of continuous improvement through peer learning and benchmarking.

Those educational institutions that wish to participate in global rankings will first have to meet the qualifying criteria. For example, business schools need to be accredited either by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) or The EFMD Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) to participate in the QS Global or FT Rankings. Institutions that make it to the global rankings are those that have significantly improved their teaching-learning experience, learning outcomes, employability and career progressions of their graduates, impact of scholarship and internationalisation.

India, globally

While Indian B-Schools like IIM-A, IIM-B, IIM-C and ISB retained their position among the top 100 in the QS Global MBA rankings and IIM-Udaipur retained its position in the FT top 100 in MIM rankings, this year, private business schools have also made their mark by being featured in the FT Ranking and QS World Ranking.

To enhance their performance, Indian institutions need to work out an action plan to improve the quality of their pedagogy and align the learning outcomes with the needs of industry or practice to enhance graduates’ employability. They will also need to work on their research agenda with clear focus area of impact — practice, academics, or pedagogy. Indian institutions should strengthen their efforts towards internationalisation and explore how they can attract international students and faculty to improve diversity in their campuses.

Continuous and consistent improvement in these parameters will lead to an improved performance in the global rankings, which is a priority of the National Education Policy 2020.

The writer is Director, JAGSOM (formerly IFIM Business School).

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Printable version | Mar 1, 2021 7:50:11 PM |

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