Why have 6 IITs boycotted THE World University Rankings for the third consecutive year?

The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in Mumbai, Delhi, Kanpur, Madras, Roorkee and Kharagpur have boycotted the Times Higher Education (THE) world university rankings for the third consecutive year and are not ready to budge unless the agency classification system is more “transparent” about its evaluation parameters.

In 2020, seven IITs announced their boycott of THE World University Rankings after top engineering schools held two meetings with THE representatives to flag their “transparency” issues with the ranking metrics . Of the seven institutes, IIT Guwahati has featured in this year’s ranking and is placed in the 1001-1200 band, well below its younger counterparts IIT Ropar (501 – 600), IIT Indore (601 – 800), IIT Patna (801 – 800). 1000) and IIT Gandhinagar (801 -1000). IIT Guwahati director TG Sitharam was not available for comment

Directors of IIT Delhi and IIT Bombay told this newspaper that they will continue to shun rankings as THE has not resolved the issues with the evaluation parameters. IIT Bombay director Subhasis Chaudhury said, “There is no improvement in the transparency factor in their process. A rank is directly assigned to the institute. We should know what the process is. No there is no reason to participate without knowing exactly what we are participating in”.

IIT Delhi director Rangan Bannerjee agreed with Chaudhury. “As of now our booth continues to not participate due to the lack of transparency in the process witnessed in the past.”

A spokesperson for THE, on the other hand, said that the organization has held talks with the “IITs (and other institutions) on several occasions and continues to host discussions with them” to resolve the differences.

“As mentioned, we have given a detailed explanation of our ranking methodology and listened to your input. In the next edition of the ranking, which will be launched next year, we have incorporated some of your suggestions,” he said the spokesperson to The Indian Express.

THE evaluates institutions on five parameters: teaching (30%), research (30%), citations (30%), international outlook (7.5%) and industry results (2.5%). In teaching and research, 15% weighting of each is based on a “reputation survey”. IITs have spoken out against THE citation metric.

“There are several research projects in which institutions collaborate worldwide. These research papers are highly cited by virtue of multiple authors associated with them. An institution that is part of such a project ends up having a disproportionate advantage over others because of a paper that is cited several times globally,” an IIT director had earlier told this newspaper, who did not want to be identified.

“There is also no consistency in performance. One year, an institution may do well in these rankings only to find that the next year it has been dropped altogether. Academic institutions do not work quarterly. There is no transparency on how the data is collected,” said another director.

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