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IITs and IISc fall in QS rankings for 2021, week after similar THE performance

IIT Delhi and Bombay and IISc Bangalore — all three are Institutes of Eminence in India — slip in the QS Rankings while maintaining top-200 positions.

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New Delhi: The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) — Delhi and Bombay — and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bengaluru have slipped in the QS World University Rankings even as they maintained their positions in the top 200 institutes.

In the 2021 QS rankings announced Wednesday, IIT Bombay continued to be the best ranked Indian institute at 172, but saw a sharp fall from its 2020 position of 152. IIT Delhi, which was at 182 last year, is now ranked 193.

IISc fell in the rankings by one spot — from 184 to 185 — but improved its India position.

Other IITs — Madras (275 in 2021), Kharagpur (315) and Kanpur (350) — also registered a decline in the rankings as did other institutes like Delhi University, Jadavpur University and Hyderabad University.

The number of Indian institutes ranked in the top 1,000 also fell this year. While 24 Indian institutions, including IITs, central and state universities and private universities were featured last year, this number has dropped to 21. Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) and Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) are among the prominent institutes to miss the cut in this year’s rankings.

Also read: Indian startups step in with jobs for IIT grads who lost big offers after Covid

Fall in other rankings too

QS Rankings is the second consecutive international list where Indian varsities have fared poorly compared to 2020. Last week, the Times Higher Education (THE) Asia University rankings also showed that Indian institutes have slipped.

IISc, which was at number 29 in the 2019 THE Asia ranking fell, to 36 this year. The IITs, including Bombay and Roorkee, also performed worse this year among Asian universities. IIT Delhi and Kharagpur are the only Indian institutes to improve their positions from 2020 in the Asia rankings.

The slippage of these institutions in international rankings is significant because many of the ones that have not performed well, like IIT Delhi and Bombay, and IISc, are Institutes of Eminence (IoEs) declared by the Narendra Modi government.

The government had formulated IoEs in its previous term to catapult Indian institutions to top international rankings. Under the scheme aimed at improving international rankings, selected private institutions are given autonomy from regulators while the public ones are given funding to perform better.

ThePrint reached the Ministry of Human Resource Development for a comment on this, but there was no response until the time of publishing this report.

Indian varsities need to be ‘international’

Speaking about the performance of Indian institutes on these rankings, professors in the IITs told ThePrint that these institutes take a beating on internationalisation.

One of the QS ranking criteria is the number of international faculty and students, where Indian institutes have not been able to perform well.

“There has been discussion over this in the past as well… Indian institutes need to improve in terms of more international students and faculty. Till the time we do not do that, our ranks will not improve significantly,” said an IIT Delhi professor, who didn’t wish to be named.

However, according to an IIT Kanpur professor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, “No institute can maintain its position in these international rankings, some or the other university will keep scoring more and getting higher up in the rankings. This is precisely the problem with these rankings, the criteria is such that older varsities that have established practices in place are unable to adapt.”

Also read: HRD ministry working on reducing school syllabus & hours of instruction, invites suggestions


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  1. Being an Ex-IIScian, it has hurt me too much to know that our Great Institute’s QS has gone so low. It is beyond my capacity to make any comment about the scientific capabilities of our research scholars but still I can say that now a days there is lack of commitment in every Indian due to nepotism and favouritism. Every one plans to amass wealth at the cost of innocent and gullible public. Unless & untill we Indians start questioning the governance and selfish law-makers, we cannot progress in any field. Scientific excellence is very essential for progress of any country. There is no lack or dearth of talent in India but what is lacking is dedication. Let us all wish good for our country & IISc.

  2. There is no in depth analysis about “fall” in standard and no suggestion to improve .
    I am afraid THE PRINT will lose its credibility if they publish such “reports”.

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