India boasts 16 entries in the top 100 of the new QS University Rankings: BRICS, a ranking of leading universities in the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Unsurprisingly, the top universities in India are largely comprised of Institutes of Technology (IITs) – the elite group of colleges specializing in engineering, technology and science disciplines which have so far provided the main success story of Indian higher education.
Of the 16 IITs in operation, half are ranked within the BRICS top 100, and the first seven of these also constitute the seven top universities in India. Also performing well are a number of large multidisciplinary public universities, based in India’s major cities: the final three places in the Indian top 10 are taken by the Universities of Calcutta, Delhi and Mumbai, and the BRICS top 100 also includes the University of Hyderabad, University of Madras, Banaras Hindu University, University of Pune and Manipal University.
The new BRICS ranking has been developed with the aims of highlighting leading institutions in these five fast-growing economies, and facilitating direct comparison of the higher education systems in the BRICS countries. While the very top of the ranking is largely dominated by Chinese universities, India is not far behind – its highest ranked institution, the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IITD), is ranked 13th overall, and another four top-20 spots also go to IITs.
Strengths and weaknesses of universities in India
The new ranking also makes it possible to highlight the comparative strengths and weaknesses of each BRICS country’s institutions, by assessing national trends for each of the eight indicators used. It seems the top universities in India can boast the highest qualified faculty members among the BRICS nations – the eight IITs featured in the ranking are all among the top 20 BRICS universities when comparing the percentage of academic staff members with a PhD.
The IITs also get fairly strong ratings in the two global surveys of academics and employers, as do comprehensive universities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Calcutta.
Research productivity and impact remain relatively weaker points for universities in India – though notable exceptions are IIT Delhi (which ranks third among BRICS universities for research papers per faculty member) and the University of Hyderabad (within the top 30 for citations per paper).
Academic staffing is also a key challenge for universities in India, as the country’s higher education system struggles to expand fast enough to match growing enrolment numbers; at present, only Manipal University ranks within the BRICS top 100 for faculty/student ratio.
A closer look at the 10 top universities in India…
1. Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IITD)
Leading the top universities in India is the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IITD). Among the oldest of the IITs, IITD was founded as an engineering college in 1961, and renamed in 1963 when it was declared part of the Institute of Technology group. Its large campus in the Hauz Khas neighborhood in the south of Delhi is close to a number of other higher education and research institutions, including Jawaharlal Nehru University, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and the Indian Statistical Institute.
IITD ranks 13th in the first edition of the QS University Rankings: BRICS. Like all of the IITs featured, it scores especially well for its percentage of staff with a PhD, as well as getting strong scores for research papers per faculty (3rd among the BRICS universities) and employer reputation (7th).
2. Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB)
Next is the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB), located in the Powai suburb of Mumbai, India’s most populous city. The second oldest of the IITs, IIT Bombay was established in 1958. While remaining highly focused on engineering and science subjects, it also has a department of humanities and social sciences, and its Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management is one of its three identified Centers of Excellence. The other two are the School of Biosciences and Bioengineering and the Kanwal Rekhi School of Information Technology.
Like IITD, IITB gets strong scores for staff with a PhD (10th) and research papers per faculty (18th). It’s also among the top universities in India for research impact, ranked just outside the BRICS top 30 for citations per paper. It’s also the highest rated Indian institution by both academics and employers – coming out 6th among BRICS universities in the global employer survey and 13th in the global academic survey. In the BRICS ranking overall it places 15th.
3. Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM)
Just one place behind IITB, the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM) ranks 16th in the QS University Rankings: BRICS. The third oldest of the IITs, it dates back to 1959, and is located in the city of Chennai (formerly Madras), one of the leading urban centers in the south of India. Like many of the IITs, it boasts a large and attractive campus, including a natural lake and land shared with the Guindy National Park. Again, it ranks well for staff with a PhD (joint 3rd), papers per faculty (10th), employer reputation (10th) and academic reputation (25th).
4. Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IITK)
Again just one place behind, the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IITK) is ranked 17th among the BRICS universities. Another of the earliest IITs to be formed, it was created in 1960, and has a large campus just outside the city of Kanpur, in the northern state Uttar Pradesh. Like most of the IITs, it combines its central focus on engineering and science subjects with a selection of courses in humanities and social sciences, and postgraduate degrees in business and management. It shares the same strengths as the other IITs, scoring well in the reputation surveys and the indicators for staff with a PhD and papers per faculty.
5. Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (IITKGP)
India’s fifth representative, the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (IITKGP), is also ranked within the top 20 BRICS universities, at 18th overall. It was the first of the IITs to be inaugurated, in 1951, and has one of the largest campuses, across more than 2,000 acres in the town of Kharagpur, in the north-east of India. In the BRICS ranking indicators, it follows the same general trend as the other IITs, and in fact is ranked the top university in the BRICS countries for percentage of staff with a PhD.
6. Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee (IITR)
Outside of the BRICS top 20, but still within the top 50, is the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee (IITR), ranked 31st overall among BRICS universities. This is one of a newer batch of IITs; though established as early as 1847 (as the Thomason College of Civil Engineering), it only became an IIT in 2001. Its main campus is in Roorkee, a city in the northern state Uttarakhand, and in addition to the usual selection of departments covering science and engineering subjects, it also boasts three Centers of Excellence, dedicated to nanotechnology, transportation systems and disaster mitigation and management. It ranks second among the BRICs universities for staff with a PhD.
7. Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IITG)
The seventh IIT to feature is the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IITG), ranked 51st in the QS University Rankings: BRICS. Established in 1994, IITG boasts an attractive campus on the northern banks of the Brahmaputra river, in north-east India. Its six research centers focus on energy, environment, educational technology, nanotechnology, mass media communication and instruments facility. It joins IIT Delhi and IIT Madras in ranking joint third in the BRICS countries for percentage of staff with a PhD – the major strong point of top universities in India.
8. University of Calcutta
The first non-IIT Indian university to appear in the BRICS ranking is the University of Calcutta, ranked 52nd – just one place behind IIT Guwahati. This multidisciplinary public university is in Kolkata, in the northeastern corner of India, one of country’s most important commercial centers with a GDP among the largest in southern Asia. Founded in 1857, the University of Calcutta has long been recognized as one of the top universities in India. While its reputation is not quite as strongly established internationally as those of the leading IITs, it is ranked within the BRICS top 50 by both academics and employers according to QS’s global surveys. Like the IITs, it also scores well for staff with a PhD (16th among BRICS universities) and papers per faculty (71st).
9. University of Delhi
Again just one place behind, the University of Delhi is ranked 53rd among the BRICS universities. Founded in 1922, it’s located on two campuses in the national capital, New Delhi (part of the wider metropolis of Delhi), one in the north and one in the south of the capital area. It covers the full spectrum of subject areas, and boasts five departments which have been recognized as national Centers of Advanced Studies: chemistry, history, geology, sociology and zoology. It’s one of India’s strongest performers in the international reputation surveys, rated 9th among BRICS universities by employers and 13th by academics.
10. University of Mumbai
Finally, 10th among top universities in India is the University of Mumbai, which joins IITB in Bombay. Established in 1857, it’s among the country’s oldest universities, covering a broad spectrum of subjects. Its strongest scores in the QS University Rankings: BRICS are for papers per faculty (8th), employer reputation (20th) and citations per paper (28th).
Other top universities in India which rank among the top 100 BRICS universities are: University of Hyderabad, University of Madras, Banaras Hindu University, University of Pune, Indian Institute of Information Technology Allahabad and Manipal University.