Top rank to PU an eye-opener for ‘branded’ institutes
V. K. Jindal
HE recent news on the rankings of institutions of higher learning in India has become a talking point amongst academicians. These rankings, done by the Times Higher Education (THE, powered by Thomson Reuters) World University 2013-2014, provide probably the only global university performance tables to judge research-led universities or institutes located across the globe.


  • Talent lying idle in rural areas: UGC chairman

  • 6 clear PCS (main) exam

  • Seminar on languages

  • Swimming championship

  • Office-bearers elected


Top rank to PU an eye-opener for ‘branded’ institutes
V. K. Jindal

A uniform growth in research output in all faculties will show quick gains
A uniform growth in research output in all faculties will show quick gains.
— Thinkstockphotos

THE recent news on the rankings of institutions of higher learning in India has become a talking point amongst academicians. These rankings, done by the Times Higher Education (THE, powered by Thomson Reuters) World University 2013-2014, provide probably the only global university performance tables to judge research-led universities or institutes located across the globe.

The rankings are based on universally recognised primary core missions such as teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. In doing so, they employ 13 carefully calibrated performance indicators and undertake a big exercise in accordance with the methodology described on their website ( to provide comprehensive and balanced comparisons, which have the potential of being held trustworthy by students, academics, university leaders, industry and governments.

Their findings, based on 13 performance indicators, have been further analysed and grouped into five areas, which include: Teaching: the learning environment (worth 30 per cent of the overall ranking score); Research: volume, income and reputation (worth 30 per cent); Citations: research influence (worth 30 per cent); Industry income: innovation (worth 2.5 per cent); and International outlook: staff, students and research (worth 7.5 per cent).

The institutions which do not meet certain parameters are excluded from consideration. For instance, “Universities are excluded from the Times Higher Education World University Rankings if they do not teach undergraduates; if they teach only a single narrow subject; or if their research output amounted to fewer than 1,000 articles between 2007 and 2011 (200 a year). In some exceptional cases, institutions that are below the 200-paper threshold are included if they have a particular focus on disciplines with generally low publication volumes, such as engineering or the arts and humanities. Further exceptions to the threshold are made for the six specialist subject tables. To calculate the overall rankings, ‘Z-scores’ were created for all data sets, except for the results of the academic reputation survey. The calculation of ‘Z-scores’ standardises the different data types on a common scale and allows fair comparisons between different types of data — essential when combining diverse information into a single ranking.”

Based on these rankings, Panjab University, Chandigarh, has been placed at the top position in India, and at 226-250 position in the world. The table below shows the ranking scores of a top university in Asia (Tokyo, Japan) compared with the top-ranked Indian University (Panjab University, Chandigarh) and another high-ranked premier institute (IIT, Delhi).

As one looks at this table, one can easily see that the parameters on which Panjab University primarily needs to improve are teaching and research.

Panjab University needs to push its research credentials by way of increasing research income and teaching credentials by way of improving the staff-to-student ratio which are noticeably lower in comparison to the other two institutions.

Nonetheless, it is apparent from citations that there are pockets of high-quality research. This is exceedingly good score in comparison with any university or institution. However, the fact that research score is poor indicates the research score which gets lost in numbers of poor performers, bringing down the research average score. In order to retain its position, PU needs to improve teaching and research in all areas.

A uniform growth in research output in all faculties is required. This will have quick gains and raise the ranking score. Otherwise, it will be declining on the ranking in a futuristic time span.

In any case, the top ranking achieved by Panjab University is an eye-opener for the “branded” institutes which only thrive on the brand-names but lose away in delivering. It would be interesting to compare the funding input received by the “branded” institutes in comparison to Panjab University and the other universities which have not been able to find a place in the top 10 Indian institutes of higher learning.

Somebody has to answer where the support money has gone. This may eventually become the deciding factor for the national policy-planners in the realm of higher education.

All these years, political masters have underrated and mistreated Panjab University. Newer institutions like Central Universities, IISERs, IITs were set up in the region and projected as superior to this old university with rich academic traditions. So much so, that Panjab University was denied the status of a Central University for reasons best known to the Central and state authorities. No doubt the newer institutions in and around Chandigarh are also performing well, but there is a feeling of discriminatory attitude against Panjab University.

However, despite all odds, the encouraging ranking has generated enthusiasm amongst the students as well as teaching fraternity of Panjab University. It has also given some food for thought — and introspection — to the other institutions in the country. The message is loud and clear — that merely name and brand will not do and you have to deliver in order to be recognised and counted amongst the top institutions.

As far as Panjab University is concerned, the rankings are set to improve with the given academic leadership, provided that the university’s internal politics subsides and administrative bodies play an equally constructive role.

It is also desirable that the university gets rid of its bulky and outdated governing bodies. Panjab University’s Senate and Syndicate have been unable to deliver positive and constructive results. This is primarily because of the method of induction of members to these bodies based on selection and election, which politicises these bodies.

But to achieve this aim, mere surface-level changes won’t do. For this, a radical change in the university’s administrative set-up is a must. Political considerations should be done away with in election/selection of members of the governing bodies, and these should have members entrenched in academics and capable of efficient administration. Such a blend of acclaimed academicians and able administrators at the helm of university affairs can bring a sea change in its performance. Till the time these reforms become reality, the Vice-Chancellor may be allowed to have a free hand through a select consultative committee.

The administrators of Panjab University require modernisation and liberal attitude. Targeted research taking into account the national goals as well as interaction of researchers on forums like can also bring in fresh motivation. On the whole, capitalising on strengths and plugging of loopholes will ensure that the university scales even greater heights in the time to come.

The writer is a Professor of Physics at Panjab University, Chandigarh


Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar
Talent lying idle in rural areas: UGC chairman

EVEN after 66 years of attaining Independence, India has drastically been lagging behind in the field of education on international map, and 33 per cent of the population is living below poverty line. These views were expressed by Professor Ved Prakash, chairman, University Grants Commission, New Delhi, while addressing the principals of the affiliated colleges of Guru Nanak Dev University, Deans of various faculties and heads of various departments of the university. He said, “We are living in country where drop out percentage is much higher and only a few per cent of the youth can reach the institutes of higher learning.” Professor Prakash said the institutes instead of being knowledge transmitters should focus on producing talented workforce which could cater to society needs in its true sense. He said talent is lying idle in rural areas which, unfortunately, is still not connected to the main stream of education. “There is need to trace them, give them opportunity equal opportunity to learn. The need of hour is to widen the axis of our universities to reach the real remote and backward areas. The curricula need to be simplified in languages which are accessible by all,” he said. While talking about the Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA), Professor Prakash said it is a centrally sponsored scheme to ensure holistic planning at the state level and enhancement of funding for state institutions, within a span of two Plan periods (XI and XII). “It has a prime attention on higher educational institutions of the country. This flagship scheme would be catering to the needs of 316 state-run public universities and affiliated colleges spanning over the whole country. There are schemes worth roughly Rs 25,000 crore in RUSA’s programme,” he informed.

6 clear PCS (main) exam

As many as six students of the All-India Services Pre-Examination Training Centre of Guru Nanak Dev University have cleared the Punjab Civil Services (Main) examination. Dr Daljit Singh Arora, director of the centre, said while Vishwajeet Singh has cleared the Central Civil Services Preliminary Examination, Jaskaran Singh has been appointed as Deputy Battalion Commandant in Punjab Home Guard. Meanwhile, two students, Rajkumar and Manpreet Kaur, have been appointed as assistant managers after clearing their bank PO examination. Similarly, Dilpreet Singh has been appointed as Inspector in the Punjab Mandi Board, Jasveen Kaur Walia has been appointed as Assistant Professor in Guru Nanak Dev University College, Verka.

Seminar on languages

A national seminar on “Comparative Study of Languages and Literature” was held at the conference hall of the university recently. The two-day seminar was organised by the Department of Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit of Guru Nanak Dev University under the UPE Scheme. Dr Ved Kumari Ghai, an esteemed linguist, presided over the valedictory session. Dr Ghai in her presidential address emphasised that prominent world languages have the common source. She said Sanskrit, being in the category of oldest languages, was the source of maximum of the inter-continental languages, modern Indian languages and Indian dialects. Dr. Dalbir Singh Chahal, director of the seminar, established the relations of languages etymolising and their words. Dr Lekh Ram Sharma, Professor Emeritus, exemplified the relation between Sanskrit and Western Pahari and Punjabi, including Saraiki, etc. Dr Renu Bala, Head of the Department, said more than 80 scholars presented their papers, establishing the relation among languages like Sanskrit, Panjabi, English, Persian, Russian, Dogri etc.

Swimming championship

Guru Nanak Dev University will organise the All-India Inter-university Swimming, Diving (men and women) and Water Polo (men) Championship-2013-14 from October 25 to 29 and the All-India Inter-University Canoeing and Kayaking (men and women) Championship 2013-14 from November 8 to 10, 2013. Dr H.S. Randhawa, Deputy Director, Sports, said the swimming, diving and water polo events would be held at the university pool. Similarly, canoeing and kayaking events would be held at Pong Dam, Talwara, and the teams who wish to participate could send their entries till October 28.

Office-bearers elected

The annual general meeting of the Guru Nanak Dev University Executive Boards and Sports Committee (men and women) was held at GHG Hockey Stadium on the university campus recently. While Dr B.B. Sharma, president, GNDUSC (men), and principal, DAV College, Jalandhar, chaired the men’s meeting, Dr Rekha Bhardwaj, president, GNDUSC (women), and principal, HMV College, Jalandhar, chaired the women’s meeting. Dr Gurdev Singh Randhawa, principal, GN College, Phagwara, was elected as president at the meeting, while Dr Daljit Singh, principal, Khalsa College, Amritsar, was elected as vice-president of the Guru Nanak Dev University Sports Committee (men). Dr (Mrs) Rekha Bhardwaj, Principal HMV Jalandhar was elected as President and Dr (Mrs) Sarita, Principal, BD Arya, Jalandhar, was elected as vice-president of the Guru Nanak Dev University Sports Committee (women). Dr Inderjit Singh, Registrar, and Dr H.S. Randhawa, secretary, Sports Committees congratulated the presidents and vice-presidents.

— Contributed by G.S. Paul