Punjab’s higher education institutions once again perform poorly in the recent National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) ranking as none of the colleges were able to make the category’s top 100 list for the fifth year consecutive.
This contrasts with the state’s schools topping the National School Education Performance Rating Index for 2019-2020 released by the Union government in June of this year.
The NIRF rankings of higher education institutions across the country given by the Union Ministry of Education are based on teaching, learning and resources; research and professional practice, result of graduation; awareness and inclusion; and peer perception.
According to NIRF data, a total of 1,802 institutes from different states participated in the 2021 ranking, the highest number since 2017, when colleges were clubbed for the national ranking.
The Punjab has 303 colleges, of which 67 are managed by the government, 135 are managed by the private sector and another 100 are managed under the category of self-financing programs. Only 22 colleges showed up for the last annual edition of the NIRF assessment. When the college ranking was launched in 2017, none of the colleges participated.
But state participation improved over the next four years with 10 colleges applying in 2018; 12 in 2019 and 17 in 2020.
Teachers and academics admit that most colleges are aware that they do not meet basic assessment criteria and therefore stay away from participation.
Professor RK Kohli, former vice-chancellor of the Central University of the Punjab, says he is concerned that education is not a priority for political exemptions. It is disheartening that a faculty member at a government institute in the Punjab is paid less than a peon for a minimum period of three years, he added.
âThe government ranking sets out education standards in Punjab. Educational institutions are evaluated on the basis of the talent they produce and no government has formulated a policy to control the brain drain, âsaid Professor Kohli.
The president of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union (PCCTU), Vinay Sofat, blames the lack of higher education policy in the Punjab. âGovernments quickly announce new colleges, but refrain from regularly appointing faculty members. When a teacher is not well paid in government colleges and institutes run by social or charitable organizations are not financially supported, how could anyone be motivated to participate in activities like the NIRF, âsaid Sofat.
Swaraj Raj, former head of the English department at Government Mohindra College, Patiala, said the number of faculty members has declined even as more colleges have been opened in the past three decades.
âPublic schools have seen improvement in terms of infrastructure and number of teachers, but colleges continue to benefit from stepmother treatment. When I joined the service in 1982, there were around 2,400 college professors and their number was around 1,000 when I retired in 2015. You just can’t expect a quality education. in the given circumstances, âhe added.
NIRF Rating Year Participants of the College of India Punjab’s participation
2017 535 NIL
2018 1,087 10
2019 1,304 12
2020 1,659 17
2021 1,802 22