With less than a year to go for the general elections, the country’s mood hasn’t risen above grim. The economy is still a tad straitened and the GDP growth rate is still on its tightrope walk, with global economic conditions not yet ready to look north. As if all these sources of disequilibrium weren’t enough, the government’s decision to experiment with the Indian education system continues from last year. In 2012, there was the HRD ministry’s attempt to put all engineering entrance examinations into a single entity; this year there is a rather enraged debate over the government’s decision to convert Delhi University’s graduate studies from a three-year to a four-year system. There has been all-round resistance to this change.
Thankfully, no such changes were proposed this year in the universe of professional colleges that form part of Outlook’s annual survey. Across the board, interest level for courses like engineering, medicine and law have not diminished but students, parents and recruiters have been extra-cautious—especially after the government issued notices to many colleges whose quality was suspect and which were faltering in terms of faculty and facilities. Some (in the southern states) have even been asked to shut shop.
Though some colleges are under the Centre’s scanner, the overall quality of colleges coming into the fold, in all streams, is better than last year’s.
In such a situation, the Outlook annual ranking (done in partnership with MDRA) assumes special significance—as a crucial and reliable beacon for stakeholders seeking to get a realistic picture of the ecosystem. Outlook’s rankings this year, our eighth, did not throw up many surprises again, as there was hardly any change in the top 20 in the flagship engineering college rankings and the top 10 medical college rankings. The good news is that the overall quality of colleges coming into the fold, in all streams, is much better than last year’s. Such encouraging response has prompted us to provide objective data-based rankings for eight out of the nine streams; we have also increased the number of colleges in the engineering rankings to 100.
With online education gradually attaining critical mass across the world and leading universities and global giants like Harvard, MIT, San Jose State University and Princeton looking seriously at this medium, we took a fresh look at how this could change India’s education landscape, characterised at present by indifferent quality and lack of good faculty and seats for students in remote areas. Looking at the debate on whether this would succeed in India, we have presented voices from both sides. Following the continuing debate over the four-year degree course, we take an in-depth look at how different stakeholders in the system look at this change and how it will affect the fate of lakhs of students. We also provide an inside view at campus politics in India’s main universities, something that affects students across streams—and across the country.
At a time when the quality of not a few professional colleges are in question and under the scanner, Outlook’s rankings will hopefully help students and aspirants plan their future properly and make an informed choice. As always, we ask you to choose wisely.