Not a few academics and pundits tend to be derisive of education institution rankings. The main criticisms are that they are shallow and compare dissimilar institutions, and sample sizes are too small to provide an accurate assessment of the relative merits of education institutions, each of which is unique in its own right. Critics are also unanimous that media publications publish institutional ranking league tables to rake in advertising revenue and that inevitably, there’s a quid pro quo.
Now in their tenth year, the annual EducationWorld India Higher Education Rankings, are designed bearing these criticisms in mind. First, higher education institutions are carefully divided into separate silos to ensure that apples with oranges-type comparisons are eliminated to the maximum extent possible. Thus Arts, Science and Commerce undergrad colleges are not only ranked separately but sub-divided into private autonomous, government autonomous and private non-autonomous colleges.
Re sample size, the field surveys for EW preschools. schools and higher education institutions are conducted by the Delhi-based Centre for Forecasting & Research Pvt. Ltd (C fore, estb. 2000), the highly reputed market research and opinion polls company whose clients include several political parties. In its judgement, the sample size of over 4,000 faculty, senior college students and industry representatives is more than sufficient, especially because sample respondents are carefully selected. “We interview a lesser number of respondents to forecast election outcomes in states with populations running into millions,” says Premchand Palety, the founder-director of C-fore.
Apropos the charge that media publications tend to rake in high revenue from issues publishing academic institutional rankings, it’s true because after investing money and huge effort, we deliver a valuable service to school leaving students. One can’t pander to well-remunerated academics who believe any profit generating activity is sinful per se.
This issue also contains league tables ranking the country’s best private engineering colleges. Government promoted IITs and NITs which are routinely top-ranked in all media rankings but admit a mere 2 percent of the 1.3 million school-leavers who write the IIT-JEE annually, are not ranked in our user-friendly league tables.
Nevertheless all these illogical and arbitrary classifications made by the overweening educracy which has messed up the education system, including higher ed, are likely to become redundant in the near future. The National Education Policy 2020 proposes that all undergrad colleges should gradually transform into autonomous multi-disciplinary universities by 2035. It’s aconsummation devoutly to be wished.