- Neelam Pandey
Two universities now at the centre of a raging debate over nationalism and free speech are India’s best, a first-ever government-backed survey has found, using parameters ranging from research facilities to employability of their graduates.
New Delhi-based Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and University of Hyderabad have been on the boil since January with rival students groups sparring over differing political ideologies, but that seems to have had little impact on their academic excellence.
The survey results assume significance considering that students of the two campuses have been at loggerheads with the government over free speech and anti-caste campaigns.
The rankings, to be released by human resource development minister Smriti Irani on Monday, are set to show that the two universities are the best in India, although on the overall list they come after two scientific institutes that are not designated as universities.
More than 3,500 higher educational institutions were considered in the survey. The other categories of institutes that have been ranked include engineering, management and pharmacy. No ranking was considered for colleges since the response was poor.
The criteria used to rank the institutions included teaching/learning resources, research, graduation outcomes (employability), outreach/ social and gender inclusivity and perception.
An independent agency, the National Bureau of Accreditation, validated the data submitted by the institutes, government sources said.
The data for the first four parameters, which account for 90% of the weightage, was submitted by the institutions and verified by National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), a body constituted by the HRD ministry last year to conduct annual quality surveys.
For the perception criterion, feedback was taken from various stakeholders, including parents, teachers and alumni.
While protests swept JNU after its students’ union leader Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested on charges of sedition for allegedly attending an anti-India event, the university in Hyderabad saw trouble over the suicide of Rohith Vemula, a Dalit PhD scholar who alleged on-campus social discrimination.
Irani’s ministry came under fire for Vemula’s death, with the opposition accusing it of discriminating against the student and abetting his suicide.