How Ashoka Fared in its First National Ranking: A Glance at NIRF 2021

By Devansh Mittal (UG ’24)

On September 9, the Union Minister of Education released the sixth edition of the National Institute of Ranking Framework (NIRF) Rankings 2021 in which Ashoka University was placed at the 95th rank in the ‘University’ category and in the Rank-Band: 101-150 in the ‘Overall’ category. IIT Madras bagged the first place in the ‘overall’ category and Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore was adjudged the best University in India, followed by Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and Banaras Hindu University (BHU).

Vice-Chancellor (VC) Sarkar told the Edict, “As a young University, less than a decade old, the University is happy to have found a place in the top 100…I have no doubt that we will do significantly better next year. On some parameters, including diversity and inclusivity, percentage of women, faculty-student ratio, learning support for students, etc., we have done exceptionally well. There are other areas that we will work on improving.” 

This is the first time Ashoka has participated in these rankings in which over 6000 institutions across the country take place. At the 95th position, it received a score of 39.02. The NIRF reveals the ranks of the first 100 institutions in each category, and after that places them in bands of 50 institutions. Since Ashoka does not offer any professional courses, it cannot compete in categories like Medical, Engineering, Management or Dental. 

Some of the best performing private universities are Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham at the 5th place, Manipal Academy of Higher Education at 7 and Vellore Institute of Technology at the 13th position. Other well performing private institutions include Amity University at the 25th  place with a score of 50.90 and Shiv Nadar University ranking 56 with a score of 45.00. 

In order to be ranked, all education institutions are assessed on five parameters: Teaching, Learning and Resources (TLR), Research and Professional Practices (RPC), Graduation Outcomes (GO), Outreach and Inclusivity (OI), and Perception. Ashoka scores particularly low in Perception and RPC with a score of 10.41 and 3.20 respectively, all scores being out of 100. For context, IISc Bangalore’s scores in Perception and RPC are 100 and 91.48. Ashoka’s OI score is 76.49, which is higher than any of the top 20 ranked universities. This can be attributed to the percentage of international students and gender-diverse cohorts. 

Out of the 1452 UG students, 203 are from an Economically Backward background, and the same number of students also receives full tuition fee reimbursements from institution funds. 117 UG students are from outside the country. This proportion (approx. 8.05%) is very high compared to other Indian higher educational institutes.

Ashoka’s data submission for the NIRF rankings (which can be found on its website) is also particularly telling. According to the submission, Ashoka does not have a single socially challenged (SC+ST+OBC) student on its rolls. Here, the VC said, “Let me say that while Ashoka is committed to inclusivity and welcomes students from marginalised communities, we need to showcase that better at the time of our next submission. Including data about our financial aid.”

Considering how young Ashoka is and also taking into account the liberal arts model that it is pioneering in the country, Ashoka has performed well, especially since there’s a certain distaste of private universities in India’s higher education sphere.  The University has delayed revealing the number of socially challenged students (SC+ST+OBC) until next year so as to not court controversy. It remains to be seen when and in what manner the number will be revealed. 

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