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AskJAM: Are the top Indian universities better than foreign universities?

Updated: Aug 11, 2022

Learn from leading experts in foreign education consulting about how the best universities in India are different from top universities abroad.

A student seeking an excellent education may be faced with a challenge - whether to go for the best in India or to study abroad. This is a question I get all the time as an education expert. These haloed education institutions in India, the best among the best, do not have any problem in attracting the cream of the crop of students. Over 1.2 million students sit for the entrance exams, and only 0.5% make it to the IITs. Over 300000 sit for the IIM exam and less than 0.5% make it to the IIMs.

It's a question of demand and supply. So why should the best institutes upgrade their curriculum, their facilities, and infrastructure? or hire the best teachers? They don't, simply because they get the best students anyway. So the lucky few who made it to the IITs, IIMs, AIIMS's, and the top colleges soon realize that this education is great by Indian standards but lags behind the global standards. The teachers are not much bothered, and they have been severely short-changed.

The government isn't interested in promoting competition among top institutions so that they can improve. If they remain competitive they will get the best in global practices and the best teachers. They may also charge a higher fee or get higher grants from the government to pay and retain the best teachers.

Let's continue, now a few unlucky who could afford to get into a western university in Europe realize something very soon. The workload on them is challenging, the course content is based on real-life problems, learning is enjoyable, the teaching is rigorous, infrastructure is simply amazing. They are researching, working on projects in the industry, and face to face with the latest in global technologies. For them, the experience is not one of cutthroat competition but one where they are motivated to do well, and excel. We have read of the numerous success stories from engineering, computer science, and the world of business and media.

A short-coming of our top institutions is that they are not global. They don't get international students nor faculty to the extent that an average foreign university may get. This may be because of government restrictions, as well as a lack of money and resources to upgrade.

The good news is that every year our top institutes are getting recognised and ranked higher, and some are now in the top 100 positions. The speed of upgradation is slow but steady.

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