World University Rankings 2020: IIT Bombay, Times Higher Education differ on data compilation

Even as none of the Indian higher education institutes features in the top 300 in the World University Rankings 2020 by Times Higher Education, another issue has crept up.

Engineering institute Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay which has been ranked in the 401-500 bracket, has said it has not submitted any data.

IIT Bombay spokesperson Falguni Banerjee Naha said they have not submitted any data to Times Higher Education (THE) this year and the last data they had submitted was for 2017.

This is crucial as THE ranks these institutes purely on the basis of data received from them.

In its ranking methodology, THE has said institutions provide and sign off their institutional data for use in the rankings. On rare occasions. when a particular data point is not provided, THE enters a conservative estimate for the affected metric.

But even as IIT Bombay maintains that it hasn’t shared any information, THE differed, and said it has received the data.

Phil Baty, Editorial Director, Global Rankings, Times Higher Education told Moneycontrol, “We are happy to confirm that IIT Bombay did submit its institutional data to THE – we have a clear record of this submission, including the date and time of sign-off and the name of the approved data submitter. We are delighted that such an important institution in India chose to take part in THE’s rankings process.”

Baty also added the global ranking system that is driven by full, open cooperation between all universities ranked and THE.

“Indeed, every single university included in the ranking, some 1,396 institutions, has actively submitted data to THE’s secure, on-line data collection portal. Universities across over 90 territories, see value in cooperating with THE as it allows them to benchmark their performance against a wide range of 13 metrics, covering all of their core missions, against trusted international standards and data definitions, and supports their improvement,” he added.

THE requires universities to provide them with basic information about their faculty and student numbers and their income, across 11 subject areas. Baty said this data is combined with a large amount of independently sourced data – our annual reputation survey of over 10,000 scholars globally, and an analysis of almost 13 million research publications and over 77 million citations to those publications.

Baty also said in a later response to Moneycontrol that they are careful not to rank any institution which has not actively agreed to be assessed, and which has provided and signed off institutional data.

He added that the data was submitted by IIT Bombay on April 5, 2019.

The THE World University Rankings are made up of three key sources of data: THE’s annual Academic Reputation Survey, which takes place each year and which most recently closed in April 2019; the Scopus database of academic research publications, which for the rankings analysis included a total of almost 13 million research publications, and 77.4 million citations accumulated between 2014 to 2019; and basic institutional data collected directly from institutions, covering staff and student numbers and finances.

Baty explained that the institutional data that they require universities to submit each year has a time lag. In order to ensure that each university compared for the rankings is submitting directly comparable data, and to take account of the highly varied reporting systems and structures across multiple territories, the basic institutional data collected for the 2020 World University Rankings, published in September 2019, was from the academic year 2017.

This has been the case for institutional data since the 2010 edition of the rankings, said Baty.

This year, none of the Indian educational institutes made it to the Top 300 World Universities Ranking 2020. But the overall representation of Indian institutes went up to 56 from 49 last year.

Baty told Moneycontrol there is an increasing number of Indian institutions now choosing to take part in THE World University Rankings.