How do Indian Institutions compare with the Global Leaders

Recently I had a very interesting chat with a close friend. Why do some of the best Indian Institutes never rank among the top universities in global rankings. What stops us to work harder and achieve global rankings. Why do Indian institutions fare badly in research? I was kind of perplexed in responding how can I explain it to someone outside the ecosystem. The challenge is that I should explain this in less than 500 words, since readers inside the domain of academics, know already about our shortcomings, but readers outside our system may get lost if we explain it in too much of details.  But more importantly, I also suffer from a lack of time to pen down my thoughts in a more detailed manner.

The international rankings like QS rankings evaluate universities based on 6 parameters

  1. Academic Reputation (40%)
  2. Employer Reputation (10%)
  3. Faculty/Student Ratio (20%)
  4. Citations per faculty (20%)
  5. International Faculty Ratio (5%)
  6. International Student Ratio (5%)

To address the answer, very briefly I present the QS Ranking scores of the best universities globally, and of IIT Delhi, since I teach here.


If one looks carefully at the list of how we compare, only criteria where we are somewhat scoring favorably is on the basis of research outcome. The citations per faculty, as an outcome of our research, scores higher than even Oxford and Cambridge.

So where does things go wrong for us?

  1. Employers who hire our students are for needs which are mostly based out of India, even if they are MNCs. So our employer reputation goes down, when we compare the salaries without equating the purchasing power parity. So surveys among employers seldom reflect understanding of how students take part in that organization from Indian ecosystem, simply because of a lack of awareness.
  2. When we speak of faculty student ration, we are abysmally poor. We end up teaching a lot more students every year, as compared to our western counterparts. The western universities have faculty members above 1000 but a student count lower than 10,000. We on the contrary struggle with half the faculty size and similar student size.  IIT Delhi has a student faculty ratio of 18:1. Good universities typically have a ratio of 10:1.
  3. Being in an emerging economy, we rarely get international faculty members, though a lot of our faculty members may have been trained outside India. Hiring policies in India do not favour foreign faculty hiring, as of now.
  4. International students don’t like applying to third world countries. We have facilities which are not really luxurious. Often 2-3 students share a room, and many students share a washroom. This is completely different if we compare the infrastructure of western economies.
  5. No wonder we score low in terms of academic reputation. Academic reputation is captured by comparing among universities from other academics who respond to surveys based on perceptions on the university they are grading. Indian institutions like IITs/IIMs have never tried to market itself globally for enhancing visibility of our productivity despite limitations.

More details about the QS Ranking can be found in their website