How Indian Educational Institutions can improve in global rankings – Part 2 of 2

In Part 1 published earlier, we talked about International and National Rankings of Educational Institutions and how these rankings could help Students in choosing the roadmap for their academic career. We also gathered how limited the representation is of Indian Institutions when it comes to Global ranking.  Based on the parameters used by the Surveys for purposes of ranking, we summed up at least 3 benchmarks that educational institutions in India could focus on to improve rankings and they are:

  • Internationalization
  • Graduate employability
  • Quality of Relevant Research

That said, Students also play an equally important role in complementing efforts of Government and Educational institutions in elevating Indian Education system in the International Arena. Let us have a look at the three criteria in a bit more detail in this Part 2.

Internationalization

What makes this an important parameter?

  • It provides necessary certification to students to pursue academic courses internationally for advanced studies.
  • Besides, from a country perspective, it opens up doors for international students and provides a diverse and cross culture environment for Indian students, thereby widening perspective and outlook.

Some of the focus areas to achieve this recognition and trust are –

  • Through the medium of globally conforming Syllabus.
  • To build trust and recognition through Excellence in education to match global standards.
  • Sync with International assessment practices.
  • Participate in Global Exchange programs.
  • Inclusion of foreign languages in curriculum.
  • Getting accredited by International bodies.

Graduate Employability:

Employability is the single most benefit that most students seek from education and so this is an important benchmark   that determines student preparedness for jobs once they graduate. As per a survey, only 4 pc of work force in India are skilled while the percentage is much higher in other countries and so improving this percentage is a daunting task. It involves a major shift in attitudes in the different players in the education ecosystem and the pedagogical approach also needs revisiting. Training of trainers, revamping of syllabus besides financial outlay  are some of the several challenges specially since many of the  educational institutions have embroiled themselves in the traditional non vocational system for several decades now .

Nevertheless, it is not impossible to make this a reality. We should consider some of the following aspects here.

  • Opportunity to work during studies makes students more competitive in job market after education.
  • Industry academia interface and Campus placements is another aspect of ecosystem that helps to prepare students for better employability.
  • Focus on projects and case studies gives them an opportunity to engage with employment process early.
  • Flexibility to choose academic courses aligned with skill sets and interest of students.
  • Course curriculum designed to provide graduate employability and career counseling programs early in academics.

 Quality of Relevant Research:

This is key parameter used by Surveys and aimed to assess Impact of Research on Industry and Community in general. Factors to be kept in mind to elevate the ranking in these Criteria could include the following.

  • Research should not just be high quality but should also be relevant in order that the target community can relate to and appreciate the use of research.
  • Industry Academia partnerships can help teaching methodologies and Research topics to be oriented towards industry requirements and community in general.
  • Creating environment where students can experiment with technology through audio visual tutorials and improve quality of research outputs and stretch the limits of research.
  • Opportunity to conduct research jointly by researchers across globe and coauthored research findings could significantly improve value of research findings.
  • Students also need an affordable socio-economic ecosystem where they can access lab facility, Industry interface and high level faculty needed to purse  quality research.

On a closing note,  it  is worthwhile to note that as part of the thrust to the education sector, Government of India has come out with several initiatives in this regard and the ones very relevant to the criteria we discussed are –

  • An initiative called Global Research Interaction Network (GRIN)aimed at encouraging research collaborations between the IITs and global institutes.
  • Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) which is focused on global exchange of content by inviting foreign faculty members to teach at Indian institutions.
  • The National Skill development mission launched by PM Narendra modi is aimed towards Skilling 400 million people by 2022 through 15 Skill Development Schemes announced as part of the mission to make India the Skill capital of the world.

So, with a concerted awareness and teamwork from all players in Education ecosystem, Indian Education system can sure elevate  internationally in the coming years and pride itself in the Top 200 rankings of Global surveys.

Written by Asha Sampath

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What does it take to crack the IIT-JEE!

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going “– Joseph Kennedy

As we approach the due date for enrollment into IIT-JEE Mains 2017 , it is worthwhile to flash back on the IIT-JEE results 2016 to put things in perspective to Students aspiring to come out winners, qualifying to enter the prestigious IITs across India. As per a Statistical table published (Source: Indiatoday.in 27th April 2016) a total of 1,128,636 students appeared for the IIT-JEE Main exams. Out of this, only 198,228 students qualified for the IIT-JEE Advanced examination. Furthermore, the total number of students who qualified to make it to the leading IITs across the country was just 36,566.  What this tells us is that the success rate in IIT-JEE Mains is as low as 1:5. From 2017, however, 20,000 more candidates will be eligible to write the JEE (Advanced) after clearing JEE (Main) thus taking the eligibility number of candidates to 220 k.

Syllabus and Weightage 

As per the notification issued by the ministry of HRD on 8th April 2016, the following changes are effective for IIT-JEE Main 2017

  • “There will be no weightage for higher secondary marks in calculating the ranks in JEE Main examination.Class 12 scores will be a crucial parameter only for determining the eligibility criteria for the exam.
  • For the applicants to qualify for admission in IITs, NITs, IIITs & such other CFTIs whose admission are based on JEE ranks; they must have score minimum 75% marks (65% for reserved categories) in higher secondary standard or be in the top 20 percentile in higher secondary exam.”

What therefore makes IIT-JEE, one of the toughest Competitive Examinations is the sheer high level of competition and complexity and therefore the intensity of preparation needed to crack this examination should not be underestimated by the students aspiring to get into IITs.

Here are some factors that Students can take note of as they embark on their IIT –JEE dream journey.

  • Organic preparation:  IIT-JEE is certainly not one of those exams where preparation can begin and end few months prior to the examination. Besides a thorough understanding of the syllabus, what is also needed is a gradual, phased out and disciplined preparation and building of skills right from high school level spread out until Class 12 ,nearer the examination schedules.
  • Pick the right School: There are very few institutions that have a scientifically devised and integrated curriculum that combines CBSE Syllabi with IIT-JEE coaching. Picking the right School can reduce duplication in preparation and also avoid stress leading to burn out, fatigue and the consequent ills leading to failure.
  • Attitude and Mindset:This is an extremely important aspect that differentiates the Winner from the crowd. High level of commitment and perseverance to achieve the dream no matter what it takes is an important factor. Also, students need to have a strong sense of self belief and conviction that success will follow from sincere and focused efforts.  It is sometimes quite natural to go through temporary phases of lack of confidence and fear of failure.  But the students should realize this is only a momentary phase and develop a mentally strong personality to bounce back, stay focused and self motivated on the big picture which is the dream destination called the IIT!  As Thomas Edison said “Many of life’s failures are people not realizing how close they were to success when they gave up “So never make the mistake of giving up what you have set out to achieve.
  • Scientific preparation and mastering the technique:  Students need to be aware that unlike in Board exams, what brings success in IIT-JEE is problem solving skills and understanding of practical concepts in application as opposed to mere knowledge of the subject. Besides, speed is of the essence in this exam and this is something that can be developed through constant practice.
  • Find the right mentor: No matter how hard work and Intelligence helps, a good mentor has no substitute. And who better than an IITian can play this role because he is the one who has seen it all and more by way of experience in successfully handholding aspiring IITians through their successful journey. The Complex pattern of the exam and the negative marking makes it most challenging and the mentor can play a key role in honing the aptitude of the student in the direction that assures success.
  • Cherry picking not possible:It is quite likely that in the total syllabus, there could a subject or topic that one dislikes but unfortunately there is no cherry picking here. The performance in that particular subject is as important as any other in the syllabus for the overall results. So it is important to realize there is no escape route here. Students should find a way to manage this by immersing into the subject and then start enjoying the learning process. Another trick would be to allocate the best part of the day to the not so favorite subject so  the learning becomes easier and less stressful and then the other subjects are well taken care at ease with a sense of relief at other times of preparation Schedule.
  • Finally, Dare to dream big .Have the courage! –

As Mark Twain said, and I quote – “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, dream, discover “

Written by Asha Sampath

How Indian Educational Institutions can improve in global rankings – Part One of Two

There are several premier organizations  that conduct survey of Education Institutions globally and rank them based on various criteria.  A good starting point before we go into the subject topic on how Indian educational institutions can raise the bar for themselves , will be to refresh our minds with some of the global rankings results for 2016/17.

We have QS World University rankings for 2016-17 which was based on 6 different criteria having varying weightage.

Academic Reputation 40%

Employer Reputation 10%

Student Faculty Ratio 20%

Citations per faculty 20%

International Faculty ratio and International Student ratio 5% each

Based on Overall criteria, only 4 Institutes from India featured in the top 250 of the 936 surveyed. Indian Institute of Science ranked at 152, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi at 185, IIT Bombay at 219 and IIT Madras at 249. While  ,there are few other IITs that were featured further down  in the list in the 300-400 ranking,  a point worth highlighting is that the only Indian University that featured at all in the list is University of Delhi that ranked somewhere between 501-550.

However, based on Individual parameters, we do have some representation from Indian University in the Global Ranking.

  • In the Academic Reputation, we have  Jawaharlal Nehru University(JNU) ranked at 240 and University of Delhi(UOD) at 249
  • In the Employer reputation , we have UOD at 180
  • In the Citation per faculty  , we have University of Calcutta and Banaras Hindu University (BHU)featuring in the list at #425 and #469

Another prominent survey released by the Times Higher Education (THE)survey which can be viewed here.  The Criteria for the evaluation were based on Citations, Teaching, Industry Income, International Outlook and research.  In this survey, Indian Institute of Science is the only Indian representation claiming a spot in the top 250 in the 201-250 band of the 980 institutions.

Alongside, let us also have a look at the first of its kind Indian Rankings 2016announced by the Union  Human Resource Development Ministry. Besides IISc claiming the Numero Uno position, there are other Indian Universities that are featuring in the top 10 and these include, JNU ranked as country’s third best University followed by Hyderabad Central University at #4, UOD at #6, BHU at 7th position and Aligarh Muslim university at #10.These rankings were based on demographic parameters such as gender and geographic diversity, facilities for differently abled and representation of students from socio-economic backward communities.

What these surveys do tell us:

  • One, they can be very useful for Students to make informed decisions about  where they would like to study, depending on the academic or employment pursuit they have in mind.
  • It also tells us that there are a handful of Indian Universities besides the IITs and other Institutes of Repute that are actually trying to go that extra mile to bring themselves up to International standards and find themselves a place in global rankings. Good example of this is the University of Delhi which features not just in India’s top 10 rankings but also in global list, though not quite on top.
  • It gives clarity on what parameters Indian Universities should be looking for to improve and raise bar for themselves in order to qualify for or upgrade themselves in global rankings.

Summarizing the key parameters that each of the above surveys have used in the rankings, we could sum up at least 3 benchmarks that educational institutions  should be working on to improve rankings.

  • Internationalization
  • Graduate Employability
  • Quality of Relevant Research

There are multiple ways in which each of these benchmarks can be worked upon. In Part 2 of this blog, we will look at how this can be achieved  and we will also try and relate them to the Government of India’s efforts  in its new Thrust to the Education sector. Stay tuned!

Written by Asha Sampath

Life Skills for the aspiring doctors and IITians at Vikas Girls Campus, Vizag

Addressing students is something I am passionate about-perhaps the inherent teacher in me makes its appearance! On a serious note, it gives me an opportunity to share real life experiences-some of my own and many from those of noted personalities. Experience sharing help people from falling into these common traps.  No doubt, all successful people go through their own unique cycles of setbacks, but a few thumb rules can always be handy.

Attitude plays the most important role in the game of life.  While each person is shaped by the environment and education that he grows with, a positive attitude creates a fertile mind for new ideas.  Most students were shy to admit that they day-dream, but day-dreaming is extremely productive as it helps visualise success and you become what you feel.  Ideas shape up into new innovations and the entire process from the dream stage to the actual finished product in the real world shapes the dreamer’s personality.  While preparing for the IIT-JEE is gruesome, 2-3 years of hard work does strengthen fundamentals and does more good than harm even if one does not eventually make it to the IITs.  The eternal optimist looks at the key learning in contrast to the pessimist who would relate non-selected candidates in JEE to failures.

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“All those who have attained great heights have not attained them in a single flight; they, while their friends slept, toiled upward in the night”

Behind every successful man/woman, there are years of hard work.  It is a common misconception that successful people are plain lucky while others are not.  Luck does play an important role in success but that luck is again circumstantial and fighting hard can make you lucky too.  “Stay long to get lucky” is a common pithy.  Success is relative, subjective and time-centric.  I consider my day successful and well spent as Dr.Venkat, Principal, found me worthy of delivering a talk here.  The general  (not necessarily correct) definition of success is to correlate the person with the amount of money he has made.

Most people give up when they are close to the finish line and perseverance & hunger are two qualities that define winning traits.  Winners don’t quit and quitters don’t win.  Procrastination is fatal and most people who procrastinate are eternal losers who don’t realise that time is a limited commodity.

Education in its broadest form shapes up citizens of tomorrow.  Value based learning is as critical as academic education because value learning imbibes judgmental capabilities that are missing in pure academic learning.  The highly ambitious girls of Vikas found the six rules of success useful and liked the idea of self-branding from a young age.

Written by Sid Baliga