The big news for us in the past few days is of course that we are No. 10 in the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings of Academic Institutions in India. Just so that it is clear as to what this means, I went to the THE website and learned that this ranking is from data compiled by Thomson Reuters. The ranking is based on responses from around 16,300 leading peer-reviewed academics from across the world who were asked to nominate no more than 15 of the best institutions in their field of expertise.
39% of responses were from the Americas, 26% from Europe, 25% from Asia Pacific and 12% from the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia; 18% of the respondents were from the physical sciences, 21.3% from engineering and technology, 22.1% from the social sciences, 15.4% from clinical subjects, 12.7% from life sciences and 10.5% from the arts and humanities.
Who were the other 9 in the top 10? IISc, five of the IITs (Bombay, Kanpur, Delhi, Madras, Kharagpur). AIIMS. Along with us, the other universities are Delhi and Aligarh. One can critique methodology, analysis and inference all one wants, but still its nice to be up there in the list, although most of the others in the top 10 are so different from the UoH, one wonders about the nature of the ranking… Reputation is such a tenuous (and ephemeral) thing, and as Iago realized, so valuable.
And value it, we do. What we seem to do with much less felicity, though, is to ask the right questions (as the THE people seem to have!) and when (or if) asked, our answers are often wanting… I had actually started on this post a while ago, sparked by some concern on the poor flow of information on campus, almost as if we have an informal DADT (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell!) policy on all issues. But that’s really for another post.
Which finally brings me to what makes a ranking that is based on the opinion that other academics have of us. In no specific order, this would probably have to include
- Research papers, which is where most others read about our work
- Books that our faculty and students publish
- Seminars and Conferences, where they may have participated…
- Scholars on campus, who they have heard of
- Alumni, our best ambassadors
- Visitors to our campus who talk about us…
There doubtless are many other factors, of course, but like I said it’s good to be on the short list… And it also gives us an idea of what we need to work on to get higher up there…