All universities are not created equally. Nor are all of the global rankings systems designed to measure them. These differences can be highlighted by varying parameters between rankings framework -- particularly when viewed through the lens of cultural diversity. In an attempt to promote transparency while most accurately evaluating and conveying the strengths of its higher education institutions, the Indian government announced plans for new, country-specific rankings criteria set to debut next April.
Introducing the NIRF
Announced by India’s Minister for Human Resource Development Smriti Zubin Irani, India’s National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) will comprise five key parameters:
● teaching learning and resources
● research, consulting and collaborative performance
● graduation outcomes
● outreach and inclusivity
Schools will be divided into two categories: autonomous, research-focused institutions and university-affiliated, teaching-focused colleges and centers. Some universities may elect to be evaluated in both categories.
While currently open solely to engineering and management schools, the NIRF will become available to universities in other areas in the weeks ahead. Irani reports that all of India’s 122 centrally funded universities, IITs and IIMs will be included in the inaugural round of NIRF rankings. Further, all of the country’s higher education institutions -- both public and private -- across all disciplines are eligible to participate.
An “Indian Context”
Irani reports that this initiative will allow for “an Indian context to educational aspirations and needs,” which is not always acknowledged by international rankings. In particular, the NIRF aims to highlight two oft-overlooked mainstays of the Indian higher educational system: research conducted in languages other than English and inclusive education.
At a time when academic accountability is an increasing international imperative, the NIRF represents new opportunities for India. According to Chairman of the National Board of Accreditation Professor Surendra Prasad, this new “apple-to-apple comparison” is expected to provide more useful, objective and transparent takeaways for all stakeholders -- from parents and students to faculty members and the educational institutions themselves.
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