An ultimate guide to improve NIRF ranking for universities and colleges

Be it any kind of ranking, we always seek the top 3, top 10, top 100, and so on. Such is the power of listing. And when it comes to institutions, especially those like NIRF ranking, it’s definitely in the news flash or on the cover page of numerous business magazines, resulting in a huge sellout, the main buyers being the students and parents who grab copies to know the details of the top-ranking institutes. The ranking is crucial to higher education institutions as it determines a students’ future and career opportunities.



What is NIRF Ranking?

NIRF is the National Institutional Ranking Framework in full, which is a unique methodology sanctioned by the Ministry of Human Resource & Development in 2015 with a vision to foster excellence and to rank institutions based on a set of standard criteria across the country. According to the fifth update, the categories of institutes NIRF includes are University, Engineering, Management, Pharmacy, College, Medical, Law, Architecture, Dental, Research Institute, Overall.

It works as an annual report card that evaluates the performance of higher education institutions across different categories and is by far the most coveted and authoritative one in the Higher Education Space. As per the estimates, the number of institutions participating in the ranking exercise saw a 20 percent increase in the present year alone.


While already a number of rankings existed, the Government of India announced its intention of ranking the higher education system officially in the year 2016 and released its very first annual ranking in universities and colleges.

Every year, the NIRF listing is released by the first week of April, so students would begin evaluating the universities and colleges just in time before their admissions.


The need for NIRF Ranking

The higher education system in India is often criticized for its quality. Though it is the world’s third-largest in terms of students, (next to China and the United States) and though it has evolved over the time from Gurukula to Modern School System, with the emergence of State Board and CBSE/ISCE, there still remain ills to the system that is quite impossible to rule over the night. Ranking can be one of the ways by which institutes can be encouraged to attain the goals set by the government.


Each of the five parameters outlined by NIRF is the goal to be met by the institutes. They not only define higher education institutions, rather the social goals of India. The weightage specified above for each category of teaching-learning, & resources (30%), research & professional practice (30%), graduation outcomes (15%), outreach & inclusivity (15%), and perception (10%) differs for colleges.

The real purpose behind NIRF is that it helps the Government identify the top 10 public and private universities to fund and rise them to world-class institutes.

The news according to the 2016 Budget announcement says a whopping 100 billion INR is to be spent in 10 years’ time towards improving the top universities of the world.


Benefits of NIRF Ranking

NIRF is presently a reliable ranking that gives a birds-eye view on the performance and status of the colleges

  • More funds
  • More autonomy
  • Increases public trust
  • Brand perception
  • Improves competitiveness and puts institutions in the spotlight among pioneers
  • Attracts students
  • Boosts campus placement

Benefits of NIRF Ranking


Acceptance of the NIRF ranking

While it’s definitely not a compulsion for institutes and universities to participate in the NIRF ranking, colleges and universities know the value of the exercise. In 2017, a total of 3,319 institutes participated. Of those, 216 were centrally funded institutes and 685 were other universities. In 2021 alone 3,954 universities and 199 centrally institutes participated in the ranking.

Besides the several controversies posed by institutions about being ranked low than expected, there still continues to be a rush to see how well the institution is faring currently in contrast to the past year and with peers in the group. There are some universities that are still credit rating their rankings by displaying the NIRF ranking prominently in media and advertisements. However, the truly ambitious universities would always be in the top 10 for sure.


How does NIRF function?

NIRF’s methodology for ranking assesses applicants based on the criteria previously set, quality assurance practices, its affiliation or autonomous status, and through surveys. Based on the assessments performed and the data submitted, institutions will be categorized into either A or B. Category A includes institutions that are engaged in both research and teaching; Category B primarily involves institutions that are concentrated in teaching. Once this categorization is done, institutions can involve in quality assurance practices to match the assessment standards and previous ranking records.

The data collection can either be submitted by the institution or taken from third-party sources. The data received can be validated by the institution and can take a specific period of time to revert with feedback or comments on the data displayed. If the institution has not reverted within the given time NIRF will assume that the data is accurate, and proceed with it.


Ways to improve your NIRF ranking

The ranking helps the institutions to introspect, analyze, and improve. It purely shows how an institution has been performing, how has it fared from the past, and how is it in line with its peers in the same category.


1. Nurture faculty research output

Improving research and output can be a benchmark for institutions to prove their stance internationally. Focus on improving the quality of research, accessibility, and citability of your faculty’s inputs, which can pull up the combined metrics of Research. Back it up with IPR, patents, projects, professional practice, executive development programs that holistically maximize the impact of institutional research.

A pro tip is to involve your scholars, faculty to rapidly mature in research areas including Material Science and Engineering, BioX, Design, and Fabrication, Condense Matter Physics, AI, and various other domains to evolve as centers of excellence in India, and across the globe.

Your specialization in these areas should gradually become indicative of success and should encourage you to do better, alongside improving student diversity and quality of research.

Nurture faculty research output


2. Fix the author and organization name disambiguation         

Along with the boon of the growing number of institutional digital libraries and research publications comes the caution to collect citations in a well-defined, up-to-date manner, to rule out the “name ambiguity problem.”

The difficulty is most common with multiple authors sharing the same name. When the authors are wrongly assigned with research publications, it very much impacts the institutional research output. The same applies to organization name disambiguation. The key to fixing this issue is by giving accurate details according to the NIRF RPC parameter.

A high-end faculty management software will automatically run the algorithm to disambiguate authors in citations by using their specific attributes on the Web, which can improve the accuracy of the information to a larger extent.

 Fix the author and organization name disambiguation


3. Creating an institutional repository with open access for various stakeholders

In most cases, the publications are obtainable through subscriptions, which limits user access and viewership. This inhibits the scrutinization of research papers of other authors, which becomes a challenge to verify and engage in different aspects of research.

The mere idea of making resources accessible and citable builds institutions’ branding and positivity. It also sets a standard for institutions seeking to stand peculiar from their competitors. This improving the ranking of the institution while also improving the student enrolments.
As a higher education institute, try adopting unique methodologies so you get a citation advantage for articles and papers. Choose Open Access repositories that do not breach the publisher’s copyright, plus get instant free access to paywalled journals and databases, which again improves the NIRF RPC parameter.


4. Improving Applications

The competition to attract the most fitting students is huge out there, especially the Ph.D. graduates. This parameter of the National Institutional Ranking Framework has more weightage, perhaps with more number of Ph.D. students, there are more and more quality papers published.

Institutions follow tactics that have been used to death, but there is no reason why they can’t do the same? Imagine a situation where an institution fixes clear cut-offs and attracts applicants only based on the marks attained. How then can candidates with less scores get a chance to apply, even if they wish to?

This leads to having a linear approach to your recruitment process. Instead of encouraging students to apply irrespective of their marks can lead to a holistic benchmark. This is what NIRF expects too! The idea will automatically double your admissions and boosts your recruitment drives. You will end up attracting students from diverse backgrounds, including physically and socially challenged ones, so you have an inclusive space for learning and development.

Picking up a hypothetical camp

Picking up a hypothetical campaign could benefit dually by improving your perception level too. An admission and enrollment platform with top-notch CRM capabilities like lead management, email campaigning can reduce your job by half.


5. Improve teaching, learning practices – focus on curriculum

The NIRF scrutinizes each and every emblematic success of the institute’s efforts and initiatives. It ponders into several other aspects that are not so obvious including the innovative curriculum.

Effective planning is a roadmap to successful instruction. Improving teaching-learning practices can be done in various which ways, but the fundamental way is by creating an outline of the curriculum you want to cover with a set of desired outcomes. While designing a curriculum, keep in mind the industry requirements.

Create outcomes to match with the same and bang on resources and materials to support the same. Focus on curriculum mapping to the outcomes. While doing this, you should also think of ways by which you can share the course materials with students, followed by assessment and evaluation methodologies, followed by personal support and improvement. Use data analytics to analyze student outcomes and reflect on making improvements and improvisations in your plan.

To understand how well the teaching-learning process happens, track the course outcomes, which will help make informed decisions at the right time. A curriculum management software can be a real add-on here.


6. Implement outcome based education

Education is outcome focused these days. The stress has been more ever since India started being a member of the Washington Accords. Now the momentum has hiked with the NIRF 2021, where institutions are figuring out ways to improve the Graduation Outcomes (GO) score, which obviously would improve careers and placements holistically.

Therefore try to follow an Outcome based model of education by establishing Course Outcomes (COs), Program Outcomes (POs), and measuring student achievements, over academic years which will help assess the quality and measure standards of your programs.

Implement outcome based education


7. Manage Perception

This parameter proves the fact that a major impact on the institution’s NIRF Ranking can yet happen without it having to publish more papers, focusing on infrastructure, recruiting new faculty, or even improving faculty to student ratio. What could mainly influence your ranking besides the ones mentioned above is the manner in which your institution is perceived by various stakeholders. A big 10 point weightage is given to perception by the NIRF ranking methodology, which can be vital to determining your overall rank.

Ways by which you could improve your Perception score can happen if you follow the strategies;

  • Building a communications dept. for your institution, which will concentrate on communicating to the public about the institution, professors, alumni about the achievements, work, and the impact you’ve had. Use communication methodologies like snail mail, social media, print, TV, Media for the same that falls within the institution’s budget.
  • Create a digital presence by having an updated website, a strong social media platform, and a stronger set of followers. Start building your trust by producing share-worthy content by keeping the prospective and current students in mind.
  • Strengthening your campaigning efforts to alter perception can improve admissions at the same time improve rankings, built loyalty.


Conclusion – Move up in the NIRF 2021-2022 listing


Now that the recent NIRF results are up, work towards moving up in the next NIRF ranking 2021. While the process can be challenging, the route you choose can make a big difference. At Creatrix we help you holistically manage your NIRF ranking data and efforts inch by inch.

  • Modern Learning Management System to improve teaching-learning practices
  • The Faculty Management module to nurture faculty R&D activities, maintain the right Faculty Strength Ratio (FSR), qualification, retention reports, workload, accomplishments, etc.
  • Transparent Admission Management to attract students from diverse backgrounds
  • Full-fledged evaluation module that can help in surveys of all kinds
  • Faculty Activity Reporting to manage publications, accessibility, and citability
  • Expert Student Mentoring platform that helps students be on the right academic path
  • Strategic planning to handle Financial Resources and their Utilisation (FRU) and University Exam metrics
  • Efficient implementation of outcome-based education model to improve Graduate Outcomes
  • Configurable workflows to create collaboration, broaden the network of institutes & MOUs with industry, research organizations

Contact us to talk to our experts now. Alternatively, if you have more strategies to improve NIRF ranking, please post in the comment section below.





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