It’s pertinent to note that India’s 657 government including 235 Central and 422 state government universities educate 73.1 percent of the total 41.3 million students in higher education
Although India’s fast multiplying new genre private universities constitute the glamour section of the annual EducationWorld India Higher Education Rankings (EWIHER), government varsities continue to be the dominant force in higher education. Of the country’s 1,113 universities, 657 are government-promoted (cf. 446 in the private sector), according to the latest All India Survey of Higher Education 2020-21 (AISHE). More important, 657 government including 235 Central and 422 state government universities educate 73.1 percent of the total 41.3 million students in higher education.
Therefore in 2020, the annual EWIHER, which until then rated and ranked only private universities, was expanded to also rank the best reputed Central and state government varsities inter se. Last year, in keeping with our commitment to continuously improve and refine our ranking surveys, the broad category of government (and private) universities was further sub-divided according to subject specialisations.
In EWIHER 2023-24, government universities are ranked in nine separate categories — multidisciplinary, law and humanities, natural and life sciences (including medical), engineering and technology, all-women, agriculture, physical sciences and sports, maths and research. This segregation eliminates apples and oranges type comparisons and makes it easier for school-leaving students and graduates to select government universities (whose tuition fees tend to be substantially lower) best suited to their aptitude and academic aspirations.
To conduct the EW India Government University Rankings 2023-24, we commissioned the highly-reputed Delhi-based market research and opinion polls company Centre for Forecasting & Research Pvt. Ltd (C fore, estb.2000) to interview 4,223 sample respondents comprising 2,147 faculty, 1,210 final year students of 162 universities, and 766 industry representatives in 25 cities countrywide.
These respondents were persuaded to award government universities of whom they have sufficient knowledge, scores of 1-300 on ten parameters of higher education excellence, viz, faculty competence, faculty welfare and development, research and innovation, curriculum and pedagogy (digital readiness), industry interface, placements, infrastructure, internationalism, leadership/governance and range and diversity of study programmes. Higher weightage is given to the critical parameters of faculty competence (150), research and innovation (300) and infrastructure (150).
Within the broad category of government varsities, higher education institutions (HEIs) offering multidisciplinary programmes are more popular with students as they provide a wide range of study programmes across numerous faculties including arts, humanities, science, commerce, management, engineering and technology, etc, and offer opportunity for inter-disciplinary study. Consequently, it’s not surprising that the longest league table in EWIHER 2023-24 is of government multidisciplinary universities.
That said, there’s no apex-level change in the 2023-24 league table of India’s best government multi-disciplinary universities. Delhi University and University of Mumbai are jointly ranked #1 for the second year consecutively. However further down the top table, there’s been a rearrangement of seats. Banaras Hindu University promoted to #2 (#5 in 2022-23) with Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi, ranked #3 (#2); Jadavpur University, Kolkata at #4 (#3) and University of Hyderabad at #5 (#4) complete the Top 5.
Prof. Ajay Bhambre, pro vice chancellor of the University of Mumbai (UoM), one of the country’s three oldest universities established in 1857, is unsurprised that the university has retained its India #1 rank with top scores on the parameters of faculty competence, curriculum and pedagogy, industry interface and placements.
“It’s a notable achievement to be ranked the #1 government multidisciplinary university for the second consecutive year by EducationWorld. I credit our consistent top rank to our dedicated faculty, visionary leadership, state-of-the-art facilities, and groundbreaking research endeavours. Moreover, our focus on cultivating a global outlook through international partnerships has significantly contributed to our success. I am especially delighted with our top scores for industry interface, placements, and curriculum and pedagogy which is proof of our commitment to prepare well-rounded graduates equipped to excel in today’s competitive global world. In line with NEP 2020, our future plans are focused on upgrading research capabilities, launching interdisciplinary centers of excellence, and deepening international collaborations,” says Prof. Bhambre, an alumnus of Pune University and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar University, Aurangabad, and former principal of the Ramanand Arya DAV College (Autonomous), Mumbai who was appointed pro vice chancellor of UoM last September.
Beyond the Top 5, there’s a major rejig. Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) has leapfrogged to #6 from #14 in 2022-23 followed by Savitribai Phule Pune University at #7 (#8). Panjab University, Chandigarh has slipped to #8 (#6); Bharathidasan University, Trichy is promoted to #8 (#13). Osmania University, Hyderabad has lost ground and is ranked #9 (#7) while Alagappa University, Karaikudi has retained its #10 ranking of last year.
Prof. M. Selvam, Vice Chancellor of Bharathidasan University, Trichy, Tamil Nadu (BU, estb.1982) is elated that this 40-year-old state government-funded varsity has entered the Top 10 league table with high scores under the parameters of range/diversity of study programmes and curriculum and pedagogy.
“I dedicate this Top 10 ranking to our students, teachers and staff. I believe our constant efforts to improve infrastructure and lab facilities and upgrade curriculums, pedagogies and research output has got us into the national Top 10. I’m especially satisfied that Bharathidasan has been highly ranked for curriculum and pedagogy and our range of programmes. We offer study programmes in 45-plus streams across STEM, social sciences, language, education and business management. Moreover, we include many value-added short-term skilling courses to enhance employability of our students. As a state government university, we are fully aware that we have a responsibility to provide high-quality, affordable education to our students, many of them first-generation learners, to prepare them for employment and entrepreneurship,” says Selvam.
Yet the most spectacular leap forward in the EW Government Multidisciplinary Universities 2023-24 league table is of University of Calcutta (UoC), which has been catapulted to #12 from #32 in 2022-23. One of the country’s three oldest universities established in 1857, UoC sprawls across 14 campuses in Kolkata and its suburbs with 151 affiliated colleges.
However Prof. Asis Chattopadhyay, pro vice chancellor of Academic Affairs at UoC, is not impressed. “Although there’s a significant improvement in our ranking, we are not very happy as UoC deserves a Top 5 ranking. If you look at our NIRF ranking for the past few years, we have been ranked among the Top 10. This is one of the country’s oldest universities with world famous alumni and world-class faculties, innovative teaching and research, and excellent institutional support and infrastructure. Currently, we are focused on setting up research centres in emerging areas such as astrostatistics, nano science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. UoC definitely deserves a better ranking,” says Chattopadhyay, an alum of Presidency College and UoC, and also professor of statistics at UoC. Currently, the university has 14,196 students and 1,255 on its muster rolls.
Further down the 91-strong league table of India’s most reputed government multidisciplinary universities, several have moved up in public esteem. Annamalai University has been elevated to #14 (#21 in 2022-23), University of Kashmir to #20 (#40), Gauhati University to #35 (#46), and Gurugram University to #49 (#63).
Moreover, it’s also important to highlight that although some universities are ranked modestly in the national league table, they are highly ranked in their host states. For instance, Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, ranked #29 nationally, is #1 in Andhra Pradesh (pop.53 million). Similarly Central University of Jharkhand, ranked India #60, is #1 in Jharkhand (39.4 million) and the Indira Gandhi National Tribal University, Amarkantak ranked #52 nationally is the #1 government university of Madhya Pradesh (85 million). Therefore given the sheer scale and spread of India, being featured in the EW national league table is an achievement in itself.