Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Kakodkar Committee Report: Part 6. Forget Ranking, Let's Do Some Re-Ranking

Chapter 2 of the Report has a section entitled "IITs and Global Scene in Engineering Education" in which the Committee considers where the IITs are in the rank list produced by QS World University Rankings. It turns out that IIT-B is the first Indian entry in the list, at No. 187, followed by IIT-D, IIT-K, IIT-M, IIT-KGP, University of Delhi, IIT-R, University of Mumbai, etc.

Now the Committee tries some innovative spin:

[University ranking and the methodologies] need to be used wisely in order to derive benefits. The following simple scenarios bring out certain interesting observations. Many of the top-ranking institutions have a Medical School. QS has classified all IITs to be without a medical school, which is accurate.

You know what they did? In their own words, they "[looked] at institutions that are classified by QS to be focusing on all 5 areas but do not have a medical school." In other words, they just dropped all the universities with a medical school, and re-ranked the universities! And the result is ... [Drum roll, please]

IIT-B is now at No. 21!

Fabulous, isn't it?

The Committee doesn't produce the full list produced by their innovative re-ranking exercise. But, going by its description of what it has done, its "new, improved" list would not include the University of Michigan, UCLA, and UCSD because they have a Medical School. Nor would it include Cambridge, Cornell, or Stanford!

Clueless? Disingenuous?

You decide.


  1. Abi said...

    Here's the truly bizarre thing.

    The Committee used the QS rank list from 2010 -- the same year in which QS also produced a whole bunch of lists in different fields -- including engineering and technology.

    And IIT-B appears in that list at No. 47!

    So, the Committee's re-ranking exercise was not only dubious, but also unnecessary!

  2. Anonymous said...

    Absence of medical school affecting rankings/accreditation has some precedent:

    But, what you have included in your comment justifies calling Kakodkar Committee's exercise as silly :) .

  3. Unknown said...

    It is so much of fun to read the report and your commentary! Hard to believe that this report is written by a set of scientists!! Report is really a joke!


  4. Arun said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  5. Arun said...

    Off topic:

    Two papers I came across:

    Women's underrepresentation in science: The role of language and laws

    and the paper it tries to debunk

    Thought you might be interested.

    Imagine a scenario - since Asians are growing as percentage in US grad students, and there's some inherent gender disparity in Asian higher ed. in aspirants in tech and in the choice and ability to go abroad for higher ed., the US PhD numbers will get affected!

  6. Ajay Harish said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  7. Ungrateful Alive said...

    "Hard to believe that this report is written by a set of scientists!" --- Once Indian scientists start writing reports like these, they hardly remain scientists. Papers they ostensibly coauthor are often ghostwritten by minions. Which may be why they find it urgent to increase the ranks of minions.

  8. Suresh said...

    I went through the chapter and was baffled to see that no use is made of the re-rankings. After the re-ranking is done on page 40, no further use is made of them in the chapter.

    My suspicion is that the committee simply
    wanted to say that the ranking of an institute can depend on the presence of a medical school and that one has to be careful in drawing inferences on the basis of such rankings. This is a totally uncontroversial point.

    Unfortunately, the committee chose to illustrate this simple point in a totally incompetent way viz., by dropping all universities with a medical school and then re-ranking. You cannot arbitrarily drop all universities which have a medical school for the simple reason that a university may have both a good engineering school and a good medical school. The dropping would be justified if all schools with a medical school had lousy engineering schools.

    As Abi notes, the entire re-ranking exercise is unnecessary as there is a separate ranking covering Engineering and Technology. (That might not include the "pure" natural sciences, but I don't think the rankings will change too much if those are included.)

    The incompetence is indeed astounding.