IITs Consistently Dropping In Worldwide Rankings: Should You Be Bothered?


First of all I would like to clarify I am no genius or scholar. Simply an above-average student who was, and still is, very keen and curious about things and subjects I love. And surely not studious! But I have always respected studious students and their perseverance into consistently trying to get into a top-notch educational institute. But post reading this, I am not very sure if the destination is as rewarding as the journey claims…

In a land where centers of learning were established as early as the fifth century AD, India was supposed to hold a lot of promise. Going by that rate, we should have been world leaders today in the educational sphere and dominating in every field of education. But alas! One quick look at this list and you would be shattered.

We usually associate good quality education with engineering. India’s top engineering institutes, the premier IITs, for which tens of thousands of students aspire every year, is slowly losing its sheen. Between 2009 and 2013, the IITs have seen a steady decline in their rankings.

In the World University Rankings 2013 list, IIT Delhi is at rank 222 (from 212 last), IIT Bombay at 233 (from 227), IIT Kanpur at 295 (from 278), IIT Madras at 313 (from 312) and IIT Kharagpur, India’s first IIT, is the only improved one at rank 346 (from 349). Today, there are 16 IITs in India. Since the rankings started, our ‘elite’ institutions have continued performing poorly but interesting, in the same period, India’s economy was expanding at a rate of 9%!

QS Top Universities

In Asian University Ranking 2013 list, IIT Delhi is at rank 38 (from 36 last year), IIT Bombay at 39 (from 34 last year), IIT Madras at 49, IIT Kanpur at 51, IIT Kharagpur at 58 and the oldest technical institution of Asia and India’s first engineering university IIT Roorkee at 66. Interestingly, University of Delhi finds its place at rank 80, ahead of IIT Guwahati at rank 89. No other Indian educational institution figures high in the list.

Ben Sowter, head of research at QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) which ranks Universities said: “The stable performance of Indian institutions is a reflection on the country’s efforts to internationalize its higher education system. However, it is clear that more efforts are needed in the area if the country’s institutions wish to feature more prominently at the top of global rankings.”

However, the picture is not as gloomy as it appears…

India may not have a top-notch world class ranked University but if you take the University Rankings by Faculty of Engineering and Technology, IIT Delhi ranks at a very honorable rank of 52, at par with another esteemed English college, University College London. IIT Bombay is at 56, IIT Madras at 66, IIT Kanpur at 93 and the prestigious IISc at 98.

In total, there are 9 Indian institutes in top 400 worldwide in their preferred faculty i.e. Engineering and Technology. So it is completely unfair to compare a core technical institute with Universities worldwide which offer a plethora of courses and our IITs barely manage to offer a handful of the latest studies.

Also, interestingly, if you take a look at the methodology of how the rankings are calculated, globally recognized awards, student faculty ratios, average graduate salaries, student exchange programs, innovation, disability access and societal contribution are some of the key parameters for a good ranking where any Indian institute would have a hard time keeping its stand. For eg: IITs don’t have many foreign teachers due to rules governing appointments.

In the Arts and Humanities Faculty, we do not have any institute. Just one (University of Delhi) in Life Sciences and Medicine, eight in Natural Science and six in Social Sciences and Management.

So the IITs are still standing their ground in their fields of expertise. Still, a drop in the rankings is an area of concern.

But are other Indian educational institutes not worth the salt? Is it due to the rote learning what we have imbibed since childhood or the frenzy we have for marks and scores and not learning for understanding the subject? Or should the drop of a few rankings not bother us at all? Or should foreign education be the ambitious student’s last recourse?

Looks like our educational institutes Chairmen and Vice-Chancellors should watch 3 Idiots once again!

Share your thoughts on what is rotting in our system which prevents this giant of a nation from excelling in education.

  1. Karthikeyan says

    Not even. It’s just a hype about the brand. It’s all about individual skills. Just many entrepreneurs are from IIT doesn’t mean IIT’s are good. It means those students are something special and they got funding from Govt and admitted there. Credit should go to the people and not the institution always. Let the students give credit to those institutions. For me, IIT’s never are interested towards country. It’s towards branding.

  2. Kapil says

    This is interesting and expected, but the downfall came too fast!

    Any institution is about students. Now think of the students who are joining IIT’s for the last 5 – 6 years, the competition is worse. But, I feel the competition is perceived wrong.

    All the students willing to join IIT’s are spoon-fed from books and lot of practice of the existing book problems. There is no out-of-box thinking cultivated in the students. Only goal for them is to secure rank, forget about what is being learnt and why.

    And if the students of this kind have been joining IIT’s, they are so stuck to the book knowledge and no innovation when compared to other universities, and I think that is the reason for downfall.

  3. Sanved says

    Not that I am a hater of IIT, still I think students give unnecessary importance to it. There are plenty on colleges which give more knowledge than just a heavy degree. Also they can simply consider Foreign Institutes which have a more enhanced system of education making it easy for us to interact and learn and even have an international degree.

  4. Mandar says

    Off course it will drop. Look at the government policies in last few years. The ‘elite’ tag for IIT is gone.

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