IITs @ 61st rank globally when rated as a system
Mahesh Sarma, 03 Mar 2014

“Not a single higher education institute in India figures amongst the Top 200 institutes of the World”.


Pranab Mukerjee, President of India at the Diamond Jubilee, KC College Mumbai

 

What the President is missed out is that India does have world class institutions within its fold, if we treat all IITs as one unit as the University of California does of all its campuses. Though the IIT system comprises 16 IITs, the top seven, namely Bombay, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur, Khargpur, Madras and Roorkee, if combined as a single unit, can excel in global sweepstakes.

Methodology

Rating Fields

QS Ranking %

THE Ranking %

ARWU 2013 %

Industry income

 

2.50

International faculty (as a ratio to domestic faculty in THE)

5.00

2.50

International students (ratio of domestic to international by THE)

5.00

2.50

Publications with international co-author

2.50

Academic reputation

40.00

18.00

Research income

6.00

Research Environment

6.00

Citations per faculty (only highly cited researchers counted for ARWU)

20.00

30.00

20.00

Faculty-student

20.00

4.50

Teaching and learning

15.00

Doctorate to Bachelor

2.25

No of PhDs produced

6.00

Institutional income against staff

2.25

Employer reputation

10.00

Alumni (Fields Medals and Nobel Prizes)

10.00

Staff (Fields Medals and Nobel Prizes)

20.00

Research output in Nature & Science

20.00

Research output (SCI-expanded and SSCI)

20.00

Publications per faculty

10.00

TOTAL

100

100

100

What it takes to be the global best?

The table alongside explains the scoring pattern of the three reputed global rankings. As we could see, in the Times Higher Education Ranking 2013 (we used it to compare institutions), reputation counts for 18%, citation for 30% and learning is 15%, thus accounting for nearly 63% of the total scores. And other 10 parameters account for the rest. We looked at the aggregate data globally of top universities and compared the same with that of the IITs. And the outcomes surprised us.

Let us talk money first

World class universities cost money (See Table 1). Great universities, especially the Top 10 or 20 do have enviable track record, long history and, of course, huge budgets. Harvard’s annual operating expenses at USD 4,042 million dollars (Rs. 25,246 crores) is 15% more than the India’s entire higher education outlay of Rs. 21912 crores. But even within the Top 20 there are universities that have smaller budgets. For example, Imperial College at 10 has a budget of just USD 1.1 billion while the seven IITs put together have a budget of about USD 0.4 billion.

 

Citation 

Research output is the best means of gaining reputation. If one looks at academic output globally, IIT system is comparable to the best. Take the top 100, (see illustrative Table alongside) IITs as a system are reasonably well placed, though the score is relatively less. But given their aggregate size, the citation should improve and they could be within the 60 -70 rank.

1. Money

Name of the Institute

US$(billions)

THE 2013 Agg Rank

Harvard University

4.20

1

Stanford University

4.80

2

University of California, Berkeley

2.60

3

Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine

1.10

4

 IIT System

0.40

40-50

2. Citation

Name of the Institute

Score

THE 2013 Citation Rank

Caltech, California

8.09

1

Yale University

4.84

11

National University of Singapore

3.95

26

Seoul National University

2.85

44

IIT System

2.41

60-70

Teaching

Here, the IIT system would score very well. This section consists of 15% score for teaching and learning survey. With an alumni data base of over 2.31 lakh+ of whom at least 10% would be in academia across the world, IIT system has one of the largest alumni base in the academia. If leveraged properly the teaching and learning score for IITs would figure amongst the top 25 in the world. 

OxfordYale_University_Art_Gallery_entrance
Stanford oval

PhD Output

THE rank looks at two measures. Aggregate PhDs (6%) and PhD to students ratio (2.25%). IIT system performs exceeding well here. Unlike the general media perception, which argues that IITs are good only for undergraduate education, data proves conclusively that IIT system also produced 885 PhDs last year. As Tables 4 & 5 show, while in terms of the number of PhDs the IIT system would rank near 30-40 in the global order, in terms of the ratio of PhDs to UG+PG students, IITs are actually comparable to the Top 20.

Click here to See IITs @ 61-the SYSTEM BREAKS INTO GLOBAL RANKING

 

Student –Faculty ratio

IITs perform exceeding well here. In most of the ranking this ratio is taken as a proxy for teaching effectiveness and any ratio which is less than 1:15 is considered a good number.  IITs with a 1: 12 ratio IITs are actually comparable to the best universities in the world and stands within Top 25 in the pecking order of world Universities.

4. Phd/UG+PG Students

Name of the Institute

Ratio

THE 2013 Rank

Columbia University, New York

0.028

8

National University of Singapore, Singapore

0.022

26

New York University, New York

0.008

40

IIT System

0.022

25-30

5. Phd Output

Name of the Institute

No PhDs

THE 2013 Rank

Columbia University, New York

627

8

National University of Singapore, Singapore

837

26

New York University, New York

407

40

IIT System

885

30- 40

6. Student–Faculty ratio

Name of the Institute

Ratio

THE 2013 Rank

Stanford University

7.60

2

University of California, Los Angeles

10.40

13

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

17.40

29

IIT System

12.30

20 -25

International faculty and students

This is one area where the IITs completely lack a presence. Though IIT Bombay claims to have over 43 international faculty (14%) of its total, the IIT system as whole does not even have 1.56% of international faculty, while the global best range from 11- 20%. So IITs would fare quite poorly in terms of faculty and might be placed beyond 100  rank band.

The situation on students is much worse. There are negligible numbers of international students. Being a globally recognised brand, with very little tweaking, IITs could easily get around 15% of their total cohort from international market and that would do wonders to the learning ambience at the institute as well as let the school score well. We must remember that peer learning improves dramatically with international diversity. Admission of international students in government-funded universities must not be looked at with myopic lens of parochialism.

7. International Students

Institution

Int. Students %

THE 2013 World Rank

Harvard University

22.00

1

Stanford University

23.00

2

University of California, Berkeley

9.00

3

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

24.00

4

California Institute of Technology

4.00

6

8. International Faculty

Name of the Institute

No PhDs%

THE 2013 Rank

Top Universities

11- 21

40-59

Middle-level universities

6-11

40-60

IIT System

1.56

>100

Industry 

In absolute numbers IITs may not be a match to global players. However, as a ratio to annual income, the percentage varies between 41% for IIT Madras to less than 10% for IIT Guwahati. So the mean would be around 20- 25% of income from industry, which would place IITs in the lower order ranking of 60s or 70s. We might stand corrected here as there is no comparable data available for the institutions beyond the Top 20 schools in the THE ranking.

 

Research Reputation

With an 18% weightage this is one domain where IITs are yet to make a dent. We know that in terms of the number of publications, IITs actually count amongst the worlds Top 50 paper producing universities. But unfortunately the number of international collaborative papers is very less at the IITs. The institutions have become completely insular and to some extent self sufficient. This also reflects on the international orientations score. IITs must motivate and incentivise their faculty to collaborate more with international faculty on research publications. In fact the higher citation score that has propelled Panjab University into national consciousness is due to the University researcher’s participation in the multinational Large Haldron collider project and the corresponding citation spin offs thereof.

 

Where does the IIT system finally stand?

In sum, if we take all the parameters together, IIT system as a whole does have a fair chance of reaching a 61st rank positions in any credible global ranking, with a little tweaking to their approach and structure as the Table below shows.

 

We do have a world class system in the country. Will we let it wilt as individual flowers or will we knit them together as a powerful academic system, setting benchmarks for rest of the country? 

9. IITs’ Standing

 

Citation (30%)

S/PhD
ratio( 6%)

Aggregate
PhDs (6%)

S/F ratio (4.5%)

Int.
faculty
(5%)

Inter
students (2.5%)

Teaching (21%)

Others (25%)

Aggregate rank

IIT system

60-70

25-30

30- 40

20-25

>100

200 and above

40-50

60-70

61

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