India’s top 100 private Arts, Science & Commerce Colleges

EducationWorld May 2019 | Cover Story

To compile the second EW India Top 100 Private College Rankings 2019-20, C fore constituted a sample respondents database of 1,770 knowledgeable individuals comprising 932 college faculty and 838 final year students to rate and rank the country’s most well-known arts, science and commerce colleges on six parameters of undergrad education excellence – Summiya Yasmeen

In 2016, your editors pioneered the first comprehensive field survey-based national ranking of the country’s best private higher education institutions including private universities, private engineering institutions and privately promoted B-schools. This (and subsequent) private higher ed institutions field surveys were conducted by the well-respected Delhi-based market research and opinion polls company Centre for Forecasting and Research (C fore) which also conducts the annual EW India School Rankings (estb.2007) and EW India Preschool Rankings (2010). The rationale for excluding government-promoted institutions such as the IITs, NITs, IIMs, etc was that since they are monotonously top-ranked in league tables of mainstream and business publications, a more useful social purpose would be served by spotlighting and ranking the rising number of private higher education institutions in their discrete categories. Moreover, over 67 percent of students in Indian higher education are enrolled in private institutions.

Last year, responding to feedback received from readers and given that the overwhelming majority of the country’s estimated 39 million school-leavers are admitted into multi-disciplinary arts, science and commerce colleges annually, we commissioned C fore to conduct an additional survey to also rate and rank the country’s Top 100 private arts, science and commerce colleges in six metro cities. Ditto this year.

To compile the second EW India Top 100 Private College Rankings 2019-20, C fore constituted a sample respondents database of 1,770 knowledgeable individuals comprising 932 college faculty and 838 final year students to rate the country’s most well-known arts, science and commerce colleges (shortlisted by EducationWorld) on six parameters of undergrad education excellence viz, competence of faculty, faculty welfare and development, curriculum and pedagogy, industry placements, infrastructure and leadership and governance — on a 100 point scale, with the vital parameter of faculty competence accorded double weightage. The scores awarded by respondents under each parameter were totalled and formed the basis for ranking the country’s Top 100 multi-disciplinary arts, science and commerce (ASC) colleges inter se.

Right at the top there’s no change in the 2019-20 league table of India’s best ASC colleges. The national capital’s star undergrad colleges and crown jewels of Delhi University — St. Stephen’s College (#1), Shri Ram College of Commerce (2) and Lady Shri Ram College for Women (3) — continue to dominate the Top 10 table. Mumbai’s showpiece St. Xavier’s College too has retained its #4 rank although this year it shares it with Bangalore’s Christ University, ranked #6 in 2018-19. The all-women Miranda House, Delhi, ranked #1 in the Union HRD ministry’s NIRF league table, has not made as great an impact on the 1,770 EW sample respondents as it has on the babus of the HRD ministry, and is ranked #5.

Prof. John Varghese, principal of the blue-chip St. Stephen’s College (NIRF rank: #4) which boasts a distinguished alumni roll call including author-politician Shashi Tharoor, historian Ramachandra Guha, legal eagle Kapil Sibal, journalist Barkha Dutt among others, is unsurprised that this 138-year-old college has retained its #1 rank in the EducationWorld 2019-20 league table. “Few academics and students in higher education are likely to dispute St. Stephen’s #1 ranking. This 138-year-old multi-disciplinary college is continuously evolving and our highly qualified faculty is constantly innovating new pedagogies and tutorials to provide all-round education. We hope to be granted autonomous status soon. This will enable us to introduce new study programmes and further upgrade our teaching-learning standards,” says Varghese, an alumnus of Loyola College, Chennai and Madras Christian College and former head of communications at the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad who was appointed principal of St. Stephen’s in 2016. Currently, the college has 1,300 students and 100 faculty on its muster rolls.

On the other hand, Dr. Fr. Abraham Vettiyankal Mani, vice chancellor of Christ University (a deemed university also ranked #12 in the EW India Private University Rankings 2019-20), is more than satisfied with this 50-year-old institution’s #4 all-India and more pertinently #1 rank in Bangalore. “I am delighted that our efforts to provide high quality undergrad education have been acknowledged by EducationWorld and the academic and student communities. The credit for our higher rank this year should accrue to our committed, hard-working faculty and students. In recent years, we have made special efforts to transform from a mere teaching to a teaching-and-research university. This research focus has enhanced faculty competence and enriched curriculum delivery and pedagogies.

We have recently completed construction of a 30-acre campus in Lavasa, Pune and a 10-acre campus in Ghaziabad. These campuses will start offering undergrad and postgrad programmes in arts, science, law and management from the start of this academic year,” says Mani, an alum of Calicut University (Kerala), Iona College, New York and Bangalore University (Ph D) who served as pro vice chancellor of Christ University for ten years before being appointed vice chancellor in March this year. Promoted and managed by Carmelites of Mary Immaculate, a Catholic congregation headquartered in Kochi, Christ University has an enrolment of 21,000 students mentored by 800 faculty.

Dr. Rajendra D. Shinde, principal of St. Xavier’s (estb.1869), is similarly delighted with the college’s #4 all-India and #1 in Mumbai ranking. “This valuable rank is the outcome of good long-term planning and great team work by faculty and students. Autonomous colleges such as St. Xavier’s are playing an important role in providing students quality education that keeps pace with the dynamically changing employment scene. Since we were conferred autonomy in 2010, we have advanced on all fronts, upgrading syllabuses and introducing rigorous evaluation processes. I am especially pleased with our #1 faculty welfare and development ranking as we have made a conscious effort to accord our faculty all support and opportunity to initiate research programmes and submit theses for doctoral degrees,” says Shinde, who has served in various positions — reader, exam controller, vice-principal — at his alma mater, before being appointed the first non-Christian principal of this 150-year-old Jesuit college in 2018.
While the Top 5 pecking order of private ASC colleges is unchanged, further down the Top 10 table below the salt, Loyola College, Chennai has been promoted to #6 (#9 in 2018), St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore #7 (10) is jointly ranked with Hindu College, Delhi (8), Hansraj College, Delhi #8 (13), Mithibai College, Mumbai #9 (18) and Mount Carmel College, Bangalore #10 (12).

Although most principals of ASC undergrad colleges, which have been upgraded by this year’s sample respondents, are satisfied with their promotion up the ladder, Dr. Rajpal Shripat Hande, principal of Mithibai College, Mumbai, which has 11,000 students and 224 faculty on its muster rolls, is of the opinion that Mithibai’s promotion from #18 to the Top 10 table is insufficient. “We deserve a higher rank because our performance under your survey’s six parameters is exceptional. For your information, Mithibai has been awarded Grade I autonomy for ten consecutive years by Mumbai University. All our 32 departments, of which 16 are postgraduate and nine Ph D research centres, are headed by highly qualified faculty. Therefore on the parameters of faculty competence and infrastructure, we deserve substantially higher scores,” says Hande, an alumnus of Mumbai University who served as director of Board of Colleges & University Development, University of Mumbai. Re Mithibai’s highest score under the parameter of leadership and governance, Hande modestly gives credit to the management. “It’s a recognition of the college management’s commitment to provide high-quality collegiate education,” he says.

Beyond the Top 10, several ASC undergrad colleges have risen dramatically in the public esteem. Notable among them: Loyola Academy Degree and PG College, Hyderabad, from #29 in 2018-19 to #11 this year; R.A. Podar College of Commerce & Economics, Mumbai to #17 (81); Bethune College, Kolkata to #22 (68); K.J. Somaiya College of Arts and Commerce, Mumbai, to #22 (41) and Seshadripuram College, Bangalore to #24 (50).

It’s also pertinent to bear in mind that the overwhelming majority of students in ASC undergrad colleges tend to be day scholars. Therefore their city rankings are perhaps more important than national rankings from the perspective of parents and students. For instance, St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata, ranked #15 nationally is this bustling metro’s #1 ASC college. Likewise, St. Joseph’s Degree College, Hyderabad, ranked #28 in India, is #3 in Hyderabad; Narsee Monjee College, Mumbai, ranked #13 nationally is #3 in the commercial capital of India and Stella Maris College, Chennai ranked #19 in India is ranked among the Top 3 in Chennai (pop. 4.6 million).

Therefore while Fr. Dr. Pothireddy Anthony S, principal of the Loyola Academy, Hyderabad is satisfied with the steady progress of the college in the EW national league tables of ASC colleges, he is more elated that Loyola Academy is ranked #1 in Hyderabad and presumably in the state of Telangana (pop. 35 million). “EducationWorld’s survey methodology based on field interviews with academics and students is sound. Therefore our #11 national ranking, and especially our #1 rank in Hyderabad indicates that we are on the right track. I am also pleased with our national Top 5 rank for infrastructure provision. We have invested heavily in our 134-acre campus which provides the best academic, laboratory, sports and residential facilities of any college in Telangana,” says Dr. Anthony.

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