Although India has not much to show in global university rankings—none of its varsities figure in top-200 and only five figure in top-500 in the Times Higher Education (THE) ranking of universities—the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has given the country some reason to rejoice. According to the latest THE ranking of world’s small universities, i.e, institutes with less than 5,000 students, the famed Bengaluru institute figures in the top-10 (ranked 8th) . While that is a reason to celebrate, India’s overall standing in the small university has taken a hit. The country which till last year had three institutes in top-20 has only one now, with Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, and Savitribai Phule University, Pune, that were ranked 14th and 18th last year, respectively, falling off the list.
IISc constantly figuring among the world’s best institutes shows that India can create world-class institutes. However, whether this is possible for both small versus big universities is a vexing question. An analysis of India’s performance shows that none of the institutes that had over 10,000 students figure in the top-500, whereas most universities in US have a strength of close to 50,000; even most in the top-10 also had over 10,000 students. While India certainly does better with smaller institutes, the country must replicate the same success for larger ones—it needs both to cater to the educational needs of the population.