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India: A new national ranking of institutions

The market of university rankings continues to flourish, and the latest country to join with a brand new national ranking is India. The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), unveiled on 29 September 2015, is a pet initiative of Minister of Human Resource Development Smriti Irani, who has been advocating for such an initiative since she took office. The national ranking is being billed as a league table that will reflect the specific context of Indian universities, including an emphasis on diversity and inclusiveness apart from excellence in teaching and research. 

Prepared by a committee set up by the ministry, the NIRF will assess universities along five broad parameters: teaching, learning and resources; research, consulting and collaboration; graduation outcomes; outreach and inclusivity; and perception. Domain-specific ranking methods are already available for engineering and management institutions, and the ministry is currently developing methods for other fields, including pharmacy, architecture and humanities. The first edition of the ranking will feature engineering and management institutions and is expected to be released in April 2016.  

Not generally recognized as strongholds of excellence, Indian universities have lagged behind in global university rankings for years. This year, however, did bring some good news for India, as two Indian universities finally made it to the top 200 in the 2015/2016 edition of the QS World University Rankings for the first time. Considering the overall disappointing results, however, the new national framework is regarded by many as a response to the less-than-stellar performance of Indian institutions in global rankings.