Why don't Indian Universities Figure in World Rankings?

he Times Higher Education (THE) magazine, a source of information on higher education, has published the 2013 edition of its annual Times Higher Education 100 Under 50 ranking – a specially made evaluation of the world’s top 100 universities under 50 years of age. This year’s list does not figure any Indian university but has other Asian countries (Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan) performing really well.

Phil Baty is editor, Times Higher Education Rankings, and editor at large of Times Higher Education. He has been with the magazine since 1996, as reporter, chief reporter, news editor and deputy editor. He has received the Ted Wragg Award for Sustained Contribution to Education Journalism in 2011, and was named among the top 15 “most influential in education” by The Australian newspaper in 2012.

In an interview with IndiaEducation, Phil Baty discusses the implications of these rankings and why Indian universities have not made it to this list at all.

Q. Why is there a separate ranking for the under 50 years old universities? What is the rationale behind this ranking?

Baty: The THE 100 Under 50 was published for the first time last year and was exceedingly well received across the globe, by institutions and students alike.


We believe that there is a real need for this list, which is designed to be dynamic and forward looking.

It is there to help students make informed choices about where to study – and sometimes it may be that their experience will be more beneficial to them if they attend a rapidly rising institution, rather than an educational powerhouse steeped in tradition.

For institutions, this list allows those with world-class aspirations to benchmark themselves against their rivals of a similar age, and look to those ahead of them in the list for lessons in what can be achieved in a short space of time.

As a rankings provider, we feel that publishing a portfolio of clearly delineated rankings is a crucial part of our mission to be open and transparent, taking the wealth of data we have at our fingertips and analysing it from different perspectives so that people may use it in the way that is best suited to them.”

Q. Why is there a separate ranking for the under 50 years old universities? What is the rationale behind this ranking?

Baty: The single biggest indicator of the 13 we use to judge institutions is one of research influence: we examine tens of millions of citations to many millions of research papers published in the world’s leading research journals.

So one of the keys to success in this ranking is to ensure, as an institution, you are pushing forward the boundaries of knowledge with new discoveries and innovations, and that the research is widely read and shared around the global scholarly community.

But we also reward an institution’s teaching environment: well resourced universities, with healthy staff-student ratios and a rich research-led teaching culture, exposing their students to cutting edge new thinking, will serve an institution very well in this ranking.

These hard objective indicators are key in this ranking of younger institutions, as younger universities do not have the benefit of many centuries of tradition and heritage to build their reputations on.

Q. The rankings clearly indicate that there has been quite a drop in the rankings in some of the universities of the U.S. and the U.K. What do these developments signify?

Baty: The UK has 18 institutions in the top 100 and the US has 8. This means that the UK is the highest performing country in the Times Higher Education 100 Under 50 and the US is the third best performing country next to Australia with 13.

However, it is clear that we must not be complacent. What this table does show is that South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore have been able to develop absolutely outstanding institutions in a very short space of time: in some cases in just two decades.

These countries have made a clear commitment to the future knowledge economy, and are investing very heavily in university research and innovation.

So we expect to see these countries to continue to rise up the global rankings and increasingly challenge older more established elite institutions for the top spots.

(Also read: Times Higher Education Top 100 Universities Under 50)

Q. Three Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) managed to make it to the top 100 in THE's Asia University Rankings 2013. But there's no place for India in the 100 under 50 rankings 2013. What do you feel the younger Indian universities are doing wrong or not doing right?

Baty: The Indian universities that feature in the traditional Times Higher Education World University Rankings (mainly Indian Institutes of Technology) are mostly older than 50 years old and therefore cannot be included in this list of the world’s best universities under 50 years old.

We haven’t found may examples of India’s universities under 50 years old which are currently meeting our tough global standards. Many focus mainly on teaching, but both teaching and research are important factors with regards to our established, global rankings criteria.

We are keenly watching India’s progress, as many young universities in India promise to be very exciting prospects in the future. We are also delighted to be increasing our engagement with the Indian higher education sector, in order to allow India to accurately benchmark itself against its global counterparts.

Q. Out of the four BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India & China) countries only Brazil's universities seem to have done well. Your views?

Baty: China’s investment in higher education is paying off – Chinese universities are rising up the traditional world university rankings.

But the focus in China has been to invest in, and develop older, existing institutions, not create new ones, so they are not visible on this list of the world’s best universities under 50 years old.

Similarly in Russia – most of the institutions earmarked for greater investment and reforms to improve competitiveness have older origins.

By contrast, India has been very much focused on building its capacity, to cope with huge increased demand for more university places – so most of its very new institutions have been much more focused on teaching, rather than in creating new knowledge through world-class research, which is an important element of our rankings criteria.

Q. Which countries have the most number of universities in the list?

Baty: The UK has the most number of universities in the list, with 18 institutions featured. Australia is next with 13 and the US third with eight.

Please note: Unless explicitly stated otherwise, any job outlook predictions, career/educational advice, and salary information found on this page are based solely on the opinion of the interviewee and not that of IndiaEducation.net or any other organization.

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