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HomeOpinionNewsmaker of the WeekIISc Bangalore's entry in QS World Rankings isn't a surprise. It was...

IISc Bangalore’s entry in QS World Rankings isn’t a surprise. It was just a matter of time

It speaks of IISc Bangalore's global repute and eminent scholars that it was ranked above famed global institutes like Princeton and Harvard universities in terms of research.

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Bengaluru is the city of scientific institutions and the Indian Institute of Science, or IISc, has greatly contributed to that reputation. Research has flourished in Bengaluru because of the science ecosystem built by entities like IISc.

To academia’s delight, IISc Bangalore has been ranked the number one research institute on one indicator in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World Rankings 2022, an annual publication of university rankings carried out in partnership with the scientific publishing company, Elsevier. It is a bit of a surprise and the merit of the achievement is also debatable because the entire concept of citation as a metric is debated.

Nevertheless, it is the first time that an Indian institute has scored a perfect hundred in the indicator of citations per faculty. Famed global institutions Princeton University and Harvard University are ranked second and third on this indicator. This is why IISc Bangalore is ThePrint’s Newsmaker of the Week.

Also read: IISc world’s top research university in QS World Rankings, is 1st Indian varsity to score a 100

Top-notch research

The rankings evaluate institutes on six metrics: academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty/student ratio, international faculty ratio, international student ratio, and citations per faculty. The last of these indicators, on which IISc emerged as number one, is analysed by dividing the total number of citations received by a university’s research papers over a five-year period by the number of faculty at that institution, normalised for subject of research.

When evaluated on all indicators, the IISc is ranked third among best research institutes within India, after the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay and IIT Delhi. The top three institutes globally are Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Oxford and Stanford University. No Indian university is in the top 100.

While IISc Bangalore’s achievement is certainly a proud moment for India, what should not be overlooked is that it is always the same elite institutes that make it to these rankings, if at all, and bring any kind of laurel for the country. It is time other institutes in India upped their game and registered a place in the haloed circle of global institutes.

Also Read: IIT, IISc global rankings fall: How can India attract foreign students, faculty to improve?

Praises galore

Congratulations poured in for IISc Bangalore, as also for IIT Bombay and IIT Delhi. From Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Karnataka’s chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa and his deputy C.N. Ashwathnarayan to MPs, political leaders, public figures and alumni, several people lauded the institute with posts on social media.

IISc was established in 1909 with aid from the formidable industrialist and founder of Tata Group, Jamsetji Tata. A committee headed by him presented a draft to Lord Curzon, the Viceroy-designate of British India, on 31 December 1898. The proposal was reviewed by the Royal Society of England, after the personal involvement of Nobel laureate Sir William Ramsay.

Several people came forward to provide further aid to establish a leading institution of scientific calibre. Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV, then-Maharaja of Mysore, gave 372 acres of land while the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan, made financial contributions.

The first batch of students was admitted in 1911 to the chemistry and electro-technology departments, while English chemist Morris Travers, who had worked with Ramsay in discovering noble gases, was appointed as the first director of the institute. The first Indian director was Sir C.V. Raman, who took charge of IISc in 1933.

Also Read: IIT Bombay & Delhi break into top 50 engineering colleges in QS World Rankings by Subject

A starry list

Today, IISc offers bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees. It is considered one of the most eminent research institutions in India, having produced notable alumni like K. Sivan, the Chairman of ISRO; R. Chidambaram, the former principal scientific adviser to the Government of India; notable physicist G.N. Ramachandran, who created the Ramachandran plot for peptide structure; and Sudha Murthy, chairperson of Infosys Foundation.

Among its former directors, C.V. Raman and C.N.R. Rao have been awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour, while four — A.G. Bourne, Martin O. Forster, J. C. Ghosh, and Raman — have been knighted.

Multiple faculty members have been Fellows of the Royal Society, hundreds have been the recipients of the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology, and thousands of alumni and faculty are members of Indian and foreign academy of sciences.

The university describes itself as straddling the gap between a national laboratory that focuses on research and a conventional university with focus on teaching. Its departments are pioneers in research in India in the field of aerospace, electronics, biochemistry and physics, materials science, and more. It is also notable for work in interdisciplinary research such as energy science, cyber physical systems, and sustainable transportation and urban planning.

While the overall list of top 1,000 global institutes doesn’t show much variation when it comes to India, the debut of newer research institutes as well as the consistency of IISc’s ranking reflect a forward step that Indian universities and institutes have taken in the field of research. For instance, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) made it to the QS World Rankings for the first time this year. One can hope that institutes like our famed IITs and IISc will eventually produce Fields medalists and Nobel laureates in the coming decades, and help elevate Indian research to global highs.

Views are personal.

(Edited by Prashant Dixit)

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