University Rankings founded on How they skill the students for SDGs
Rankings of the Higher Educational Institutes (HEIs)\, initiated for the first time in the 1950s, are well debated since then. They are criticized extensively among academicians, local and international governments, the industries. The debates and criticisms are mainly centred around transparency, verification system of collated data, purpose ranking serves and criteria used for the same.
In any case, rankings do serve the core purpose of generating positive competition among the HEIs.
Competition among HEIs is reaching an absurd level with some rich universities enlisting on their roll Nobel laureates to bolster their rankings. There is no doubt that students are becoming more and more choosey like any other consumer group. The students make the selection of HEIs based on what exactly they get for the bucks (fees) they pay and the investment they make in terms of time.
There are, by one count, more than 100 ranking systems globally many of which are of national level but some are well recognised global ranking systems likeQuacquarelli Symonds (QS) or Times Higher Education (THE) rankings.
How many of them really address the need of the students and hence the societies where the students finally make their way and contribution is the question. Students ask. “which university fulfils my need for a subject X or Y?”. They hardly ask the question of which university ranked high on the list in general. ‘ Global Specialization’ is the keyword than ‘General localization’.
The National Education Policy (NEP) of India launched in 2020, at the very beginning of the report indicates ‘quality education’ ( SDG4) as the key driver for the transformation. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are considered as a disruptive force to change the narrative of our education system to enable HEIs to meet those goals.
TERRE Policy Centre, as part of its Smart Campus Cloud Network, has drawn a plan to make ‘ Bharat Ranking’ of Universities/HEIsto fulfil the needs of students and to seal the gaps left open by the debates and criticism of ranking systems. It is based on the concept of mainstreaming SDGs in the Education system and implementation of SDGs in the HEI’s campus. The Impact Matrix of 17 SDGs and particularly those relevant to HEI’s campuses would be the criteria for the ranking.
In short, rankings would reveal how the HEIs are the centres for skill-building for SDGs and how the students are made ‘ SDGs-Ready’ will be the outcome of the ranking. Such a system that would internalise the verification by way of digital technology would be the core process