There is one thing common among the Indian CEOs of global IT giants: All of them completed their higher education at a leading foreign university. Such exposure decidedly put them into the big league and the corollary is that the lack of a foreign degree is as good as a disqualification for their fellow Indians. It is in this context that the move to allow foreign universities to set up campuses in India assumes significance. Of course, these universities will be free to fix their fees as well as norms in terms of admissions in the sense that the restrictions applicable to Indian universities will not be binding on them. But it will provide more Indian students with the opportunity to acquire qualifications that are in demand by the top companies of the world. It is a pity that despite India’s legacy as the ancient seat of learning and claims of it being the provider of knowledge to the rest of the world, not even one Indian institution of higher learning finds a place on the list of top 100 universities. Perhaps, as a consolation point, three Indian universities have made it to the list of the top 200: The Indian Institute of Sciences, Bengaluru, followed by IITs of Bombay and Delhi. Given the size and other attributes of the country, accounting for one-sixth of humanity, this is indeed a dubious distinction.
Contrast this to a country like the United Arab Emirates with a history of just about half a century, and much less in terms of its history of education. The UAE today has at least three universities on the QS World Universities Rankings list of the top 100 and as many as 20 in the top 200. QS reviews some 1,400 universities to produce its lists. Institutions are assessed across six categories to effectively capture university performance – including academic and employer reputation, faculty/student ratio, and research citations. The topmost consideration in the rankings is academic reputation, which accounts for 40 percent of the overall score. Academic reputation looks at the teaching and research quality at the world’s universities. According to QS, over 1,30,000 expert opinions are collected from the higher education space, creating the largest survey of academic opinion in the world. In terms of employer reputation, QS assesses how institutions prepare students for successful careers, and which institutions provide the most competent, innovative, and effective graduates.
While computing the score, citations per faculty are also an important factor. For this, QS measures the quality of university research with a citation per faculty metric, taking the total number of academic citations in papers produced by a university in five years. The decision to allow foreign universities to set up campuses in India will allow Indian universities to set up overseas campuses, which will be a big plus for some of the more ambitious universities in the country. But academicians have opposed the UGC’s new GCC proposals, saying that opening up of the higher education sector would affect Indian universities as there would be greater demand for admission to foreign universities. This view is typical of an isolationist approach, which has held back our institutions from upgrading and updating themselves to the new realities of an emerging world.