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India has 42 universities in Asia rankings but widening gender gap is a matter of concern

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IIT-Kanpur has the worst female-male ratio at 14:86, says report; HRD ministry asked IITs to create 550 extra seats exclusively for women.

New Delhi: India may have 42 universities in the Asia rankings for best campuses, but the widening gender gap in these top institutions could serve as a wake-up call for policy makers.

The good news is India’s representation in the annual universities’ ranking has improved to 42 (out of 350 in Asia) from last year’s 33, according to the Times Higher Education rankings released this week.

Also, seven Indian universities, including five IITs, have made it to the top 100 universities in Asia. They include Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (Rank: 29), IIT-Bombay (44), IIT-Kharagpur (60), IIT-Roorkee (65), IIT-Kanpur (81), IIT-Delhi (86) and Tezpur University, Assam (100).

However, these institutions are lagging behind when it comes to the female-male student ratio. For instance, IIT-Kanpur shows the worst numbers with 14:86 and IIT-Guwahati at 15:85. Other institutes such IIT-Kharagpur, Indian School of Mines, IIT-Roorkee, IIT-Bombay, IIT-Madras, and IIT-Delhi are stuck at 20:80.

IISc-Bangalore, ranked 29th in Asia and the best in the country, has a female-male ratio of 21:79.

Ravish Roshan, director of the Centre for Education Growth and Research, an independent think tank, said that there are many social and economic reasons behind the skewed gender ratio in Indian educational institutions.

“Girls generally prefer distance education to regular courses due to security and family reasons,” he said.

“We have limited number of government technical colleges. The fee structure in IITs is another biggest hurdle. In a male dominated society, the family prefers to spend more on educating men than women,” Roshan added.

Out of the 42 Indian universities, only two have an equal female-male ratio — University of Calcutta and SASTRA University in Tamil Nadu.

Delhi University and Sathyabama University in Chennai also fare better with 49:51 and 51:49, respectively.

There are only three Indian universities which can boast of having more women than men — University of Kerala (65:35), Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (62:38) and Maharaja Sayajirao University in Baroda (56:44).

Even countries such as Japan fare poorly when it comes to maintaining the gender balance. About 10 universities in Japan have the worst female-male ratio with the Toyohashi University of Technology showing the poorest ratio of 9: 91.

The National University of Singapore continues to be Asia’s top university for three years in a row with an almost equal divide of 51:49.

Although the skewed female-male ratio does not affect the ranking of universities, the issue has raised concern. Last month, the human resource development ministry had directed all 23 IITs in the country to create 550 extra seats exclusively for women in this academic year starting July 2018, ensuring 14 per cent of the places for females in the premier institutions.

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