During spring, just as flowers bloom, rankings of engineering colleges pop out of national magazines. It is time to rejoice for students of some of the highly ranked colleges; while for others, it is time to worry and introspect.
Why do we need these rankings?
College ranking is a controversial yet a useful guide for many.
For college-entering students to decide the best option available.
For colleges to know what they need to improve and where they stand in the pecking order.
For recruiters and human resource managers to decide the college they would visit for campus interviews and negotiate pay packages.
For the teaching faculty to decide which colleges to aspire to teach in.
For students and alumni, for whom it is a matter of pride.
Type of rankings
There are basically three types of rankings:
Government rankings: The central government carries out a survey of engineering colleges every few years. The survey, conducted by the World Bank, is used to arrive at a funding formula for financing colleges under United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and to monitor the progress of the colleges receiving funding.
The government survey is highly respectable and includes comments/suggestions for the improvement needed by the colleges. These are generally not available in public domain.
Academic rankings: These is carried out by leading institutions around the world and sometimes by academic and scientific magazines. The survey is authentic and unbiased, but is of limited use. It is used mainly to boost the ego of a college among similar colleges, to attract talented faculty and to keep flow of money from its patrons.
The Asian Technology Information Program, Tokyo, is a prestigious, non-profit think-tank, which monitors research programmes from universities/institutes across Asia and classifies some of the leading universities in a specific research area.
For example, according to ATIP, Indian Institute of Science is among the world leaders in the field of nano-crystal technology research. Similarly, it puts Banaras Hindu University among the leading research universities in the world in the field of application of hydrogen energy to two-wheeler vehicles.
Magazine rankings: Also known as popular rankings, these are the ones that are mostly read by common folk. These are carried out by national magazines as a guide for students and faculty, and for the college themselves.