The University of Delhi is one of the most popular universities in India. Every year, high school graduates from all over the country follow a long-standing tradition of eagerly waiting for the university’s cut-off lists to try to make it across the strenuous admission procedure. In 2020, the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) has placed DU as the 18th-best university in India.
Last year, one of the finest institutions under DU 𑁋 the Hindu College demanded a near-perfect score by setting a cut-off of 99% for B.A. (Hons) Political Science. In the same year, it was ranked as the 2nd-best college in India by NIRF.
These rankings strengthen the national prestige of the University by re-affirming its local significance. However, how well does the University actually stand out among its global counterparts? Can it carry its weight for demanding such an impeccable scorecard from its prospective students?
One of the best-ranking systems, Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) Annual World Rankings, ranked the University of Delhi between the ‘501-510 spot’ globally for 2021. The University of Connecticut and the University of Georgia ranked alongside it. The former is classed as a “Research I ” institute, making it one of the most prestigious public schools in the United States of America. The University of Delhi’s ranking alongside these institutions is, indeed, honourary. In the other categories by the QS World rankings, DU bagged 67th rank in Asia and 7th rank in India.
Before we further try to analyze DU’s position in the world rankings, it is imperative to understand the set criteria that factor into the various ranking programmes. Different systems have their own unique set of rules and procedures that factor into the final weigh-in. For instance, Quacquarelli Symonds’ website reveals, “The six QS ranking indicators are academic reputation, employer reputation, citations per faculty, faculty/student ratio, international faculty ratio, and international student ratio.”
Similarly, the Times Higher Education World Rankings (THE) ranks its participatory universities by performance indicators, which are then grouped in five areas – Teaching, Research, Citations, International Outlook and Industry Income. THE 2020 placed DU at the ‘601-800 slot’ in world rankings and at the 155th slot in Asian rankings.
If we look at the top contender of the ranking list, the University of Oxford tops the charts by being the Number 1 university globally. Interestingly, the admission procedure in Oxford is far more holistic than DU. It remains an academically rigorous institution but apart from demanding good scores from its applicants, its admission committee reviews the prospective student’s personal statements, takes multiple interviews from shortlisted students and has entrance exams for most of its courses. This ensures a more fair admission process where the scorecard isn’t the sole factor in determining whether someone deserves a seat in the desired college.
While some selected colleges, like St Stephen’s and courses, like the Bachelors in Management Studies, have some of these requirements, DU still largely limits its admission process from strict cut-offs. The University would have a better academic student-body if it included a diverse range of principles to judge its candidates on.
An alternative admission process that allows students to showcase their innovations, research and community work would encourage the system to flourish in a way that allows students to develop more holistically. This does not mean that the students excelling in scholastic or theoretical abilities should be completely discarded, but a more inclusive and open approach for assessment should be expanded, both academically and non-academically.