Straight Talk: Do College Rankings Matter? Part 2

6 May

Straight Talk: Do College Rankings Matter? [Part 2 in a 2 part series]
By Pushkar


Very few Indian colleges and universities offer good quality education. Most institutions, even if they are ranked by national magazines or have won some award or another, do not provide the knowledge and skills you need to become employable. You, the student, really are on your own.

In my last blog, I suggested that prospective students should not rely on all-India college rankings in making judgment calls about which institution to attend. Many institutions that make it into the charts in reality offer substandard education.

The implications of poor quality education are obvious. Think employment prospects.

There is a skills shortage in India. If you are already in college, you may already know that – provided you have been attending classes. One of the big reasons why our higher education lags behind is because there is a severe deficit of qualified and capable faculty, even at premier institutions. Furthermore, the course content across disciplines at most institutions is ancient. This has direct implications for your employment prospects.

According to a recent report, less than 11 per cent of all hotel management graduates are employable. Such miserable numbers are not new. Prior reports have found graduates from across different disciplines, including engineering and management, to be lacking in employability skills.

Aspiring Minds publishes annual reports on employability and they are worth a look. The 2013 report found that 47 per cent of graduates are unemployable in any sector of the knowledge economy because of their lack of English and cognitive skills.

What I found interesting in the report is that over 40 percent of employable graduates are not from the top 30 percent colleges. What does that tell you about college rankings?

The numbers tell me that many ranked institutions do not impart the necessary knowledge or skills for employability. If I had to speculate, I would say that a majority of the 60 per cent employable graduates from the top 30 per cent colleges are in fact from the top 5 or top 10 per cent colleges. I would also speculate, based on the finding that a fairly large numbers of employable graduates (40 per cent or so) are from the bottom 70 percent colleges, that a good number of graduates became employable irrespective of the quality of their college education.

Overall, with the exception of graduates from the very best colleges, a majority of employable graduates do not acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to become employed on their own.

Pushkar is a contributor on India’s higher education for Asian Scientist (Singapore). He previously taught at Goa University, McGill University, Concordia University, and the University of Ottawa. He is currently with the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, BITS Pilani-Goa. You can follow him on twitter at: @PushHigherEd

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