PRO, Nagaland University
Nagaland University is set to celebrate its Silver Jubilee this year. In a sense, the result of NIRF 2018 announced on April 4, 2018 by Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar has become something of an unintended appraisal for Nagaland University in the journey thus far. Therefore, the news of having secured 95th position in the Universities category was naturally received with deserved elation by the University fraternity. To put it in perspective, Nagaland University’s rank in the Universities category in the NIRF 2016 was 227th. Before assessing the performance of Nagaland University, let us look into the national ranking framework itself.
The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) came into being in 2014-2015 as the outcome of intense discussions and deliberations of the HRD-appointed 16-member Core Committee headed by Secretary (Higher Education). The Committee had proposed a robust National Framework to measure the performance and ranking of higher education institutions while also making recommendations for the institutional mechanisms, processes, and time lines for its implementation. An Implementation Core Committee (ICC) was also then constituted by the HRD ministry. In the first NIRF that was conducted in the year 2016, rankings were given for Universities as well as for the specific disciplines of Engineering, Management and Pharmacy. In the NIRF 2017 that followed, the categories of common overall ranking and ranking of General Degree colleges were added. And in the just declared results of NIRF 2018, rankings were also given in the fields of law, medicine and architecture. The participating higher education institutions in the NIRF 2018 can be seen in the Table 1.
Table 1: Participation numbers for overall, Disciplines and Category-specific Rankings (Source: MHRD)
As per NIRF guidelines, ranks are allotted to the participating institutions based on five broad generic groups of parameters, namely, Teaching, Learning and Resources; Research and Professional Practice; Graduation Outcome; Outreach and Inclusivity; and Perception. Under Teaching, Learning and Resources, the parameters include student strength, faculty-student ratio, faculty with PhD and Experience, and Financial resources and their utilization. Under Research and Professional Practice, are publications, quality of publications, IPR and Patents, and Projects and Professional Practice. In the group of Graduation Outcome, are placement and higher studies, University examinations, median salary, and Ph.D. students graduated. In Outreach and Inclusivity, the parameters are percentage of students from other states, percentage of women, economically and socially-challenged students, and facilities for physically-challenged students. Under Perception, the parameters are peer perception (employers) and peer perception (academic peers).
For computing the scores for ranking, the participating institutes were required to submit the required data through an Online Data Capturing System (DCS). Data on publications, citation and highly-cited papers were sourced from third parties, namely, Scopus (Elsevier Science) and Web of Science (Clarivate Analytics). The Implementation Core Committee (ICC) addressed the issues and pit-falls in the process of data collection, verification, authentication and interpretation. In addition, committees comprising academic experts were set up to closely examine the submitted data under each of the five broad generic groups of parameters for each discipline. The participating institutions were also required to nominate senior functionaries as a nodal officer to attend to the feedback and anomalies pointed out by the expert committees. Participating institutes also had to upload the submitted data on their website for dissemination to the public.
Coming against the rather unflattering performance in the NIRF 2016, Nagaland University’s ranking in the NIRF 2018 was thus heartwarming. Going into the details, Nagaland University had a perfect score in the parameter of faculty-student ratio. Scores were excellent for the parameters of faculty’s qualification and experience, University examinations, and women diversity (percentage of women). Performance was average for the parameter of financial resources and their utilization. Thus, in order to retain or improve on the ranking, the University as a whole will have to striver harder.
The Vice-Chancellor Prof. Pardeshi Lal, in his message to the University fraternity, termed the result for NIRF 2018 as “quantitative as well as qualitative advancement of our University despite all the challenges and constraints”. He said, “It has been made possible by the sheer hardwork and unswerving commitment and dedication of students, faculty members and the administrative staff of the University”. He felt that “it is an opportunity as well as a moment of pride to take the pledge to do better in the future’. He also congratulated and thanked “Team Nagaland University” for the modest but meaningful achievement.
According to the MHRD, one of the major outcomes of India rankings is that institutions are getting into the good habit of compiling vital statistics of their institutions—about their faculty, staff and infrastructure—more carefully and meticulously. This can only bode well for the institutions, especially for assessing themselves against internal benchmarks. At the national level, the data can serve as a very useful basis for analysis of the status of Higher Educational Institutions in the country. In the words of HRD minister Prakash Javadekar, “The educational institutions performing well in the India Rankings will be awarded with more funding or grants, enhanced autonomy and freedom of functioning and various other benefits”.