Times Higher Education (THE)’s ranking of the world’s top 100 universities less than 50 years old released on 31 May, 2012 reveals insights on the rising hubs of higher education across the globe and, in particular, the recent crop of Indian private universities. In ways more than one, the publication enlists some of the ingredients that have created the rising stars on the global higher education stage. According to Jamil Salmi, the former head of tertiary education at the World Bank, academic excellence has traditionally required care and long periods of maturing. Today, this notion is being challenged. To understand why, it is important to understand the methodology and results of the THE top 100 under-50 rankings1.
THE’s traditional top 400 universities’ ranking parameters and weights — one-third of the weights has been assigned to subjective parameters (reputational surveys) that perpetuate the status and reputation universities have built over several years.
THE’s top 100 under-50 ranking parameters and weights — retaining the same parameters from the traditional rankings, weights assigned to subjective parameters linked to reputation have been reduced to a little over one-fifth of the total. The focus on tangible/measurable performance that young universities have demonstrated in recent times has increased.
THE’s top 100 under 50 — the verdict and message
1. European Renaissance: If the top 100 under 50 is an indication of future dominance in higher education, there is indication that Europe (and the UK, in particular) will eventually take over the US as a preferred global destination for higher education. The share of the top 100 by region: Europe -51, Australia, New Zealand, Japan-17, US, Canada, Brazil-15, East and Southeast Asia -13, Middle East - 4
2. The golden age: Some spectacular performers have entered the ranking within three
decades (and some even within two decades). However, it appears that universities
between 40 and 50 years of age proliferate across the ranking ranges:
3. Message from the top: Case studies of select universities from the top 100 under 50 showcase what goes into making a high-quality academic institution that can rise rapidly in global stature:
- Best attracts best - Skilled faculty that joins during the formative stage of a university, in turn, attracts outstanding students. Sourcing high-quality faculty often encourages overseas scholars to return to their countries of origin. To retain such students, one must have a merit-based and transparent management system and provide academic freedom.
- Attract significant investment from the private sector (e.g., Pohang) and/or governments (e.g., HKUST) and leverage to one’s benefit macroeconomic factors such as healthy growth in the home country’s economy.
- Institute good leadership and develop a long-term vision for the university that can guide strategic choices. Adopt a conscious strategy. A selection and concentration strategy to focus on niche areas (often in technology streams) can often stretch limited resources and the time available to new universities to their benefit.
KPMG in India’s point of view
India is conspicuous by its absence in the top 100 under-50 lists. The country is already supported by macro factors such as an economy that is performing well relative to other countries and a largely well-established government policy. What is left, therefore, is for its universities to pursue the excellence required to join the ranks of the world’s best universities The fact that research at Indian universities is not always recognized globally can no longer be a hurdle to establishing an international reputation (this assumes importance, as rankings such as THE place a dominant focus on the quality of research at higher education institutions). Private institutions such as the Indian School of Business (ISB) have already proven that it is possible to develop research capabilities and global positioning in a short span of time. Hubs of excellence such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), National Institutes of Technology (NITs) and Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) on one hand, and private universities with corporate backing on the other, are India’s tickets to the greater heights in global education.
1.Times Higher Education: 100 Under 50, 2012
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