NIFR – B-School Rating: A dubious exercise

Rahul Reddy, IIM Calcutta

Co-founder, VistaMind Education

The recently published ratings by NIFR are full of glaring errors, of omission and commission. While the errors are so obvious to the experts and knowledgeable students, in the hands of a student or parent who doesn’t have sufficient knowledge it leads to wrong and indeed harmful choices.

Before I analyze the reasons as to why the rankings have gone so badly wrong, let me present some of the glaring mistakes made by the ranking.

Top 10 B-Schools

Most surveys get this right, as the top 10 B-Schools of the country are well known. The Older IIMs, A, B, C, L, I and K with XLRI and FMS are obvious choices and it’s more of which B-Schools come 9 and 10.

But, the NIFR survey shockingly excludes FMS, Delhi and SJ School of Mgt IIT Mumbai and includes IIT Roorkee at No 8.

B-School Ranks: 11 – 30

And then it gets worse, much worse. VIT Vellore (17) , Kalinga Institute of Technology (22), PSG Coimbatore (26) have no business being anywhere in the top 50 or perhaps even in the top 75 B-Schools of India. Anyone who says VIT, Vellore is better than IIMs Shillong, Raipur and Rohtak should immediately book an appointment with a psychiatrist. And shockingly, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), Delhi comes in at a distant 30.

For a well-informed student, these wouldn’t matter and he/she would have a gentle laugh and ignore these rankings. But imagine the plight a talented student from say Madurai or a Nellore who doesn’t have the information or access to knowledgeable mentors. What if She gives up IIFT, Delhi and joins VIT. Who would take responsible for the damage to her career?

B-Schools Ranks: 31-50

And this madness continues… Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University comes in at 35, just after NMIMs Mumbai and ahead of GIM, Goa and KJ, Somayya Mumbai.

IFMR, Satyaveedu(38), Tezpur University (39), Bharati Vidyapeeth (40), Sri Krishna, Coimbatore (43) are names that are not even well known in their home state. So why? Oh Why? Are they in a national Top 50 list?

And some good B-Schools, like MICA, Ahmedabad, LIBA Chennai, Great Lakes Chennai, and BIM Trichy are missing completely. They probably didn’t participate in the Ranking exercise.

To go beyond 50 is completely pointless. The selection is random and of no use to any student who wants to make an informed choice.

So what went wrong? And How does it matter if it wrong?

Firstly, unlike Rankings done by Magazines and Web portals, this is a Ranking done by a HRD Ministry. So mistakes become more dangerous when they are given an official sanction or seal of approval.

So how did the ranking go wrong? The quality of any ranking depends on

  1. Selection of Parameters and weightages given
  2. Accuracy of date collected

The problem with the NIFR rankings is clearly visible in the case of the 1st point. While they have considered placements and Median salary, the weightage given is too low. And many of the parameters covered are either irrelevant or difficult to measure.

  1. Total student strength: Clearly, beyond a point having a larger student base is not strength but a weakness as both quality of education and placements suffers.
  2. Peer Perception (Industry), Peer Perception (Academics) and Public perception. A simple issue clouds all these parameters. What answer you get depends on whom you ask? Again, full fledged Universities/Multi Disciplinary colleges like VIT, Vellore would have greater recognition among the general public compared to specialized, high quality B-S
  3. Schools like MICA or IIFT.
  4. Faculty Student Ratio, Full time Faculty emphasis and no of PhD qualifications etc., while seemingly good parameters have a fundamental problem of being quality agnostic. In simple words, the ranking considers the number of FT faculty not the quality. Also a FPM (IIM equivalent of a PhD will be treated on par with a PhD from any 3rd rate University). Also a greater full time faculty ratio is not always a good thing. It is important to find diverse subject experts and industry experts to share knowledge.

Most importantly, many B-Schools have learnt the art of gaming the ranking system. They hire many faculty, especially PhDs (any subject, any university), publish many articles in 3rd rate journals etc., all to create ranking for themselves.

Finally, a piece of unsolicited advise to the MHRD. Ranking B-Schools and Colleges should not be your job. Leave it to industry accreditation bodies or private bodies to conduct ranking exercises. By conducting a flawed ranking like this one, MHRD has only lent credibility of the government to B-Schools that don’t deserve it while weakening some really good B-Schools.

April 25, 2017

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