NIRF: Measuring regional diversity (GS III, SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS)

CONTEXT: The Ministry of Education has adopted a method of National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF) to rank higher educational institutions in India. 

WHY IN NEWS: The sixth edition of the NIRF rankings was released on September 9.

  • The NIRF forms the ranking based on five parameters and each with 1-5 sub-parameters. 

  • This article discusses about one of the NIRF Parameter: in Outreach and Inclusivity (region diversity)

Issues with current NIRF Formula-

To calculate regional diversity, NIRF takes into account only the percentage of students enrolled from other States and countries in that Institute. The formula calculates the regional diversity of States not on the basis of State-wise representation of students at the Institution, but on the basis of the percentage of total students enrolled from all States except the State the Institution is located in. 

This is problematic and misleading. Thus, the NIRF’s calculation of regional diversity in educational institutions is inaccurate

The NIRF can improve the accuracy by adding 2 different questions.

  1. From how many States have the students come to study at the Institute? The answer to this may inform us about horizontal regional diversity

We further need data that shows, among those, how many students are from which towns and villages, non-metropolitan big cities, and how many are from metropolitan cities?

To assess horizontal regional diversity comprehensively, a second question may be added:

  1. What is the size of the hometown of the students? Its answer will add the knowledge of vertical regional diversity i.e. how many students belong to Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III cities and towns, or villages from within each State.

Comparing two Institutions-

For a clearer understanding of horizontal and vertical diversity, let us compare the demographic data of the Faculty of Law, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, and of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bengaluru.

Under ‘Region Diversity’ in the NIRF rankings-  Jamia scored 17.75 out of 30 and NLSIU scored 27.04.

Case I-

  •  At Jamia, there were students from 15 States. Of them, 76% came from U.P. (44.7%), Delhi (16.1%) and Bihar (15.25%).

  •  No student came from Arunachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu or Telangana. 

  • Only 1.4% of the students were from south India (comprising five States, Puducherry and Lakshadweep). 

Thus, Confirming the weak horizontal regional diversity.

On the other hand, Jamia has impressive vertical regional representation, as-

  •  43% of the students came from small cities, towns, and villages, though only from 15 States.

Case II-

  • At NLSIU, only 18% of the students came from small cities, towns, and villages.

  •  The Institute is primarily accessible to students from metropolitan and non-metropolitan big cities, though the students came from 24 States.

 Thus, NLSIU performs well on the horizontal front but weakly on the vertical.

NIRF is not yet clear about how to calculate such diverse regional diversities? 

The NIRF rankings make the positional goods, the Institutions have to offer more transparency to students, parents, funders, and the Government too. 

Incidentally, on the basis of the five parameters, the ranking creates a transparent hierarchy of higher educational Institutions in India.

A scholarly scepticism should be evoked about the accuracy of regional diversity, as calculated by the NIRF. And other parameters also should be made more accurate and clear by NIRF.

BY,

RAJEEV YADAV 

FACULTY OF G.S. AND HISTORY-OPTIONAL

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