In the world of competition towards attracting students, respect in society, funding etc. every educational institute is concerned about its national standing represented by its NIRF rankings. The NIRF ranking system, now in its sixth year (started in 2016) is by far the most coveted and authoritative one in the Higher Education Space and featuring on NIRF top 100 table is certainly prestigious for any College or University. As per the estimates, the number of institutions participating in the ranking exercise saw a 20 percent increase in the present year. Overall 5000 educational institutes/ universities/ colleges of higher education competed this year in different categories like overall, university, engineering, management, pharmacy, college, medical, law, architecture, dental and research. In engineering, comprising about 3500 govt. & private engineering institutes in the country, about 1143 Technical Universities/ IITs/NITs/ CFTI/ colleges (govt. & private) submitted their applications for NIRF ranking.
Each of these parameters further have many sub-components. Scoring in all the five parameters is equally important but it is found that out of all these parameters, institution perception also plays a great role in improving the rankings. The institutes scoring good points in other four parameters i.e., TLR, RP, GO and OI sometimes lack significantly in fifth parameter i.e. peer perception. Many institutes with nice location and background have fared well in NIRF rankings, for example, in college category, out of 100 colleges listed in the NIRF rankings, about 30 colleges are from Delhi itself. No doubt, a combined effect of all first four parameters also impact the peer perception but, it is important to discuss, how an institute can improve its peer perception or how other highly ranked institutes are maintaining their high standards of peer perception.
A significant impact on the institutions NIRF Ranking can occur by improving the peer perception of the institute. This is because how the institute is perceived by various stakeholders can affect the rankings as 10-point weightage is given to perception in the ranking methodology. A 10-point advantage for any College/ University can be vital in determining their overall rank. An institute scoring almost good in all other parameters fail to make significant NIRF ranking because of its low scoring i.e., about 5 (out of 100) in peer perception. Therefore, a jump of many ranks is possible for a good score in perception. It is important to understand peer perception. Perception of an institute is based on the below parameters:
Stakeholder Rating: A stakeholder can be anyone over a large category of people: employers, professionals from reputed organizations, alumni and academicians. The survey is conducted online and is based on the number of replies and the average ratings received in the reply. Depending on the size of the institution these stakeholders can be from the state in which institute is located or the entire country. The institution, however, has no control over who receives these forms from NIRF.
Application to Seat Ratio: Application to Seat Ratio is exactly what it sounds like. The number of application the institution receives for the number of seats it has to offer.
How to improve Perception Score?
Not only in NIRF rankings but Indian universities/Institutes lose out on marks on the perception count in world rankings also. Academic Reputation and Employer Reputation are counted as factors that determine “perception” of an institute. Academics and employers consulted by the ranking firms do not perceive Indian institutes to be “research intensive”, even though their research papers are published by reputed journals. The Western world does not see our institutes as research hubs. They still think we are mainly involved in churning out undergraduates. Perception score depends on the improvements in the perceptions of the Institute by employers, research investors, peer groups including academicians and the public, in addition to better competitiveness and can be achieved through a concerted campaign aimed at creating an enabling environment for our students, faculty, and ensuring equity in all respects. Things to do to improve perception score.
Building a communications deptt.:
Communicating to the World is as important as doing the research. Communications deptt., role is not to publish an admission open advertisement or a Diwali Facebook post. The responsibility of this deptt. is to communicate to the World what the institution, its alumni, its professors are doing. Their achievements, their work and the impact they have had. This can be done via any medium whether it is social media, snail mail, TV, radio or print. Whatever works and fits the institutions budget.
Building a Milestone Campaign:
For many established colleges, advertising feels embarrassing as it looks like a call for admissions. However, with the right partners you can build a campaign around milestones that your college may be reaching and use it as an excuse to celebrate and inform.
Building digital presence: Digital presence plays a vital role in building perception. Having an updated website and social media platform which is handled by a dedicated team / agency can help to improve perception, especially with the younger audience.
Building a Campaign to alter perception: A well thought of campaign for institution will help to attract the right student and build loyalty.
Improving Applications: Encouraging more students to apply even though they will not get through is a tactics used by many institutes. Students should be encouraged to apply and be judged on a more holistic bench mark. This will not only increase the number of applications received but institute will also improve recruitment drives. Lowering the fixed application fee is also a good way to improve the number of applications to institution.