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OPINION

Touching new heights

The University of Kashmir has figured at rank 47, thus ranking among the top 50 universities of India
Mubashir Majid Baba
Srinagar | Posted : Apr 16 2018 1:27AM | Updated: Apr 15 2018 11:56PM
Touching new heights
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“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today”- Malcolm X

On 3rd April, Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) released rankings of top higher educational institutions in India assessed in the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF). The NIRF was launched in 2015 with the main objective of assessing the ranks of educational institutions of India. Rankings of 2018 were categorized into different categories depending on the various disciplines taught and type of higher educational institution. The participating educational institutions were divided into various categories viz. engineering, management, universities list, colleges list, pharmacy and overall list. It is quite heartening that the University of Kashmir and University of Jammu have once again figured among top 100 universities in India under the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF-2018) and also Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University (SMVDU) is placed at 94th rank among all the engineering institutes of the country. The University of Kashmir has figured at rank 47, thus ranking among the top 50 universities of India with the point Score of 43.96 in the ranking system which is really a good news for all its stakeholders. University of Jammu stands at 51 with the total point score of 43.19. This achievement by University of Kashmir is really significant despite the obstacles faced by our institutions of higher learning due to various unfavorable conditions. Recently I had the opportunity to visit the top Universities of India for my research purpose and the feedback which I received from the scholars enrolled there was really encouraging. I came to know that the research activities start beyond 4 p.m. there and that is totally opposite here in our state. So keeping this into consideration being among the top 50 Universities despite the conditions prevailing here, it is really a big achievement for University of Kashmir.

The different parameters on which University of Kashmir, University of Jammu, SMVDU were assessed included Teaching, Learning & Resources (TLR); Research and Professional Practice (RP); Graduation Outcomes (GO); Outreach and Inclusivity (OI) and Perception (PR). 

In 2018, IISc Bangalore has once again topped in the overall list with the points in different parameters as:

 

Score of IISc Bangalore (2018)

TLR (100) RPC (100) GO (100) OI (100) PERCEPTION (100)

84.54 91.08 75.48 43.70 100.00

 

On the other hand while comparing University of Kashmir with IISc Bangalore, the result of NIRF rankings 2018 show that University of Kashmir is getting higher score in Graduation Outcomes than IISc Bangalore which is good but other important parameters cannot be ignored.

Score of University of Kashmir (2018)

TLR (100) RPC (100) GO (100) OI (100) PERCEPTION (100)

62.39 20.08 77.61 36.99 0.00

 

On the other hand comparing the score of University of Kashmir which they got in NIRF rankings during 2017 and now in 2018, the score has increased by 14.54 in Teaching, Learning & Resources (TLR), 3.34 in Research and Professional Practice (RPP), 10.66 in Graduation Outcomes (GO), 1.55 in Outreach and Inclusivity (OI) but the score in perception has decreased from 0.10 in 2017 to 0.00 in 2018 which should be a matter of concern for the administrators. Similarly, Jammu University has also improved in its ranking as compared to 2017 rankings of NIRF with the increase of 20.26 points in Teaching, Learning & Resources (TLR), 1.54 in Research and Professional Practice (RPP), and 0.63 in Perception (PR). But the score of Jammu University in 2018 has decreased in parameters of Graduation Outcomes (GO) and Outreach & Inclusivity (OI). Another positive point that has yielded from the rankings is the performance of University of Kashmir in Teaching, Learning & Resources (TLR) parameter. The TLR score of University of Kashmir (62.39) is more than Anna University which has been ranked 4th in the list with the TLR score of 57.31, Jadavpur University (57.08) ranked at 6th, University of Delhi (52.52) ranked at 7th, Calcutta University (45.47) ranked at 14th , BITS Pilani (61.02) ranked at 17th , Panjab University (52.59) ranked at 20th in NIRF rankings of 2018 to name a few. In the research parameter, University of Kashmir is also giving a tough fight to other universities in the race with 778 publications in web of science, 945 publications in scopus with a total of 6821 citations.

The University can be in the top 10 if the score in Perception and Outreach & Inclusivity parameters can be improved. In fact in the 2018 rankings there are only 6 universities having scored 0 in perception parameter including University of Kashmir. University of Kashmir loses out on marks on the perception count. This is due to the unfavorable conditions prevailing in the valley.  Had the conditions been normal the University of Kashmir would have figured among the top ten universities. Academics and employers consulted by the ranking firms do not perceive J&K institutes to be “research intensive”, even though their research papers are published by reputed journals. They do not see our institutes as research hubs. They still think we are mainly involved in churning out undergraduates which is not the case now. Quality research is being undertaken in almost every department/centre. Regarding Outreach and Inclusivity we are also lagging behind despite having such centres being established in the campus like UNESCO Madanjeet Institute of Kashmir Studies (UMIKS). The objective of this centre is to attract the best students from across South Asia to study at the Post-Graduate level, regardless of background or circumstance. This helps to promote diversity, cultural exchange and the cause of regional peace and cooperation. On the same pattern, centres can be established and MOUs can be signed, student exchange programmes can be initiated which will have a bearing on OI score of University of Kashmir in the future rankings. University of Kashmir should give fellowships to foreign students/ students from other states who want to study here which will be one of the motivational forces to come here thereby increasing the diversity in the education system. It will be heartening to see the improved score in the Outreach and Inclusivity (OI) parameter, which will showcase our regional diversity, international outreach as well as our focus on creating a better environment for women, economically and socially challenged as well as the physically challenged students. In this regard, few months ago, electric vehicles were kept at main entrances of the campus for differently-abled students as well which is really appreciable. There is no doubt many more facilities have to be started for physically challenged students so that to provide equal chances also to them in order to compete in this era.

Besides the above factors, the quality of university education, like other levels of education can be measured through an analysis of: (a) inputs such as teaching and non-teaching staff, curricula, facilities and technologies for teaching and learning arrangements for students’ catering and institutional management; and (b) outputs such as tests and examinations. Physical planning in the universities in many countries does not commensurate with their rate of growth and expansion as more students are enrolled; the academic administrators of universities continue to accommodate them in the existing facilities. This has often led to an over-stretching of such facilities. As a consequence, there is congestion in lecture theatres, workshops, laboratories, and libraries. The required inputs are seriously lacking in most universities. The massive expansion of enrollments without a corresponding increase in the number of teaching staff has meant that the staff to student ratio has risen. The improvement in rankings can be achieved through a variety of measures. Urgent attention should be paid to the establishment and gradual implementation of standards of provision for the full range of inputs to teaching and research. The provision of libraries with the necessary print and non-print resources should be the highest priority, closely followed by supplying laboratories and workshops with consumables and materials needed for equipment maintenance and repair. 

Higher education, especially at the university level is of paramount importance for J&Ks future. J&K requires both highly trained people and top-quality research in order to be able to formulate the policies, plan the programmes and implement the projects that are essential to economic growth and development of the state. Preparing individuals for positions of responsibility in government, business, and in professions is a central role of the universities and supporting these individuals in their work with research, advice and consultancy is another equally important role.

If the Universities of J&K have to sustain their rankings certain measures are to be taken like:

We have to stop unplanned expansion of higher education.

Comprehensive policy is to be laid down.

Curriculum to be revised.

We have to develop inspiring and motivating classroom interactions.

We must apply new changes and innovations.

Students have to be motivated and teachers to be dedicated.

Crazy rush for degrees should be stopped.

The cream of the student community attracted by the foreign countries should be stopped. These students should be provided good incentives in their own land.

We have to develop professionalism.

We should not establish colleges and Universities for vote bank and for other non-academic reasons such as caste, community or political patronage.

Exploitation of students in the name of tuitions should be stopped.

The Universities and Colleges have to develop will power to curb unhealthy practices.

Providing facilities to physically handicapped students whether in laboratories, libraries etc.

Student exchange programmes with world leading universities.

Signing of MOUs should be practical but not only on paper.

Creation of more Research Centres.

If all the above parameters are taken care of, the day is not far away when we will have higher educational institutions of India particularly of our J&K state figuring in the top 100 of different World University rankings.

 

Mubashir Majid Baba is Doctoral Scholar, Department of Management Studies, University of Kashmir. Also nominated by UGC as Stipendium Hungaricum Scholar in 2015).