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Rankings that make no sense

GS paper 2

Syllabus: Issues related to the development of the social sector related to education, NEP, National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) etc


Source: The Hindu


  • The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)’s ranking of higher education institutions (HEIs), released in July, has received considerable flak.

 Directions: Just go through it once. Not so important

HEIs are ranked overall, university-wise, college-wise and also under disciplines such as law, medical, pharmacy, management, architecture, and engineering.

Parameters of ranking:


Issues with the Data:

  • Private institutions placed above NLUs: The NIRF places some private multi-discipline institutions higher than many prestigious national law universities (NLUs) and law departments.
    • Generally, students who cannot secure a seat in NLUs are admitted to private institutions.
  • These institutions are not the first choice: NIRF ranking shows that a private law university scored 100% in perception.
    • Considering this score, it should have been the most preferred place for students.
    • But the Common Law Admission Test admission choices show different picture-this institution figures below 10 NLUs as a preferred place to study.
  • Lack of rigorous system: An analysis of the data submitted by some multi-discipline private universities participating in various disciplines under the NIRF provides evidence of data fudging.
  • Faculty-student ratio:
    • Evidence suggests that some private multi-discipline universities have claimed the same faculty in more than one discipline.
  • Funding in research: Research funding for research projects and consultancy is an essential parameter for ranking.
    • Data show that research grants and consultancy charges received in other disciplines appear to have been claimed as those in law.
  • No transparency: The NIRF requires the data submitted to it to be published by all the participating HEIs on their website so that such data can be scrutinised.
    • Some private multi-discipline universities have not granted free access to such data on their website; instead, they require an online form to be filled along with the details of the person seeking access.
  • Discrepancy in data:
    • For instance, the data uploaded on the websites omit details on the number, name, qualification and experience of the faculty.
  • Same parameters to all institutions: The NIRF applies almost the same parameters to all the institutions across varied disciplines in research and professional practice.
  • Publication data only from Scopus and web of science: While the National Assessment and Accreditation Council gives due weightage to publications in UGC-Care listed journals, the NIRF uses publication data only from Scopus and Web of Science.


  • Revised methodology: Severe methodological and structural issues in the NIRF undermine the ranking process.
    • The methodology must be revised in consultation with all the stakeholders.


Insta Links:

Union Education Minister Releases India Rankings 2022 of higher educational institutes


Mains Link:

Q. National Education Policy 2020 is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals-4 (2030). It intended to restructure and re-orient the education system in India. Critically examine the statement(UPSC 2020)


Prelims Link

Which of the following is/are parameters used by NIRF for ranking of higher educational institutions?

    1. Teaching, learning and resources(TLR)
    2. Graduation outcome
    3. Number of students enrolled yearly
    4. Inclusivity and perception

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

a. 1, 2 and 4 only

b. 1, 3 and 4 only

c. 2 and 3 only

d. 1, 2, 3 and 4

Ans: (a)


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