Wednesday, May 31, 2006


According to the latest edition of India Today, St Xavier's, Mumbai is the best college in the country. Now, this, the tenth time the country's largest (and most arguably most cluless) magazine is coming out with such a survey. No college has ever come first more than once in the Arts category. Whether that is a deliberate ploy to keep everyone happy I don't know, but the ridiculousness of this survey is mindboggling.
Now, SRCC is the best college in Commerce (and has been all ten surveys), actually that is the one no-brainer in the entire survey. Any college where the cut-off percentage has hit 98% plus (04 and 05) is amazing. Then again, if you don't have 90% in your +2, your chances of making it to ANY North Campus college in Delhi University border close to zero - even if you fall under some quota or another, and that includes the ever powerful 'My Daddy Strongest' quota (crucial in St Stephen's).
Anyway, back to the nit-picking, Xavier's Mumbai comes second in the Commerce category, but the college themselves admit that the B.Com course they offer is a part-time afternoon course with a part-time faculty, much like the stuff they do at XIC. Weird, no?
The way the survey is conducted is similar to the one the Evening Standard (if I'm correct) runs in the UK. Principal's, HoD's and Deans of some 700 colleges are polled and asked how good or bad XYZ colleges are. The main failing of such a survey is demonstrated in that Xavier's Commerce point - better known and colleges with a degree of history always tend to be marked up, even if the course they offer isn't terribly good by their own admission.
Secondly, another huge failing of the survey is the 'Curriculum' bit. Tell me, how many colleges in India, rather how many of "India's (self-admitted) top colleges" set their own curriculum? None. The University does - which means that Economics at Stephen's, Hindu, SRCC and LSR is all the same. Therefore, ranking Universities of their curriculae might be slightly better.
Faculty rankings? You have to seriously kidding me when you tell me that the faculty of Stephen's is in the top ten in any subject (other than Maths and maybe Philosophy, where they're the best) - I was there not so long ago and I can pretty much guarantee you that the Senior Members of College (to use the technically correct term) are scarily off their rockers. But when you admit a bunch of geniuses, you will get people who end up across the Ivy League and Oxbridge or become big I-Bankers or mediapersons. It takes a monumental effort to make the cream go bad, but I also know that faculties at many other "Top" DU colleges are equally disasterous - and until there is a level of "Faculty Accountability" built-in (Hah! Like that will ever happen as long as there are unions) nothing will change. In fact, some of the better faculties in DU are actually in some of the historically more 'shady' colleges (thanks to DU's teacher recruiting norms). Again, with Xavier's over here - keep in mind most of the student's that are admitted after their Secondary Exams - thanks to Mumbai's rather weird (to a Delhi-ite) educational system, so judging them from an admission standpoint is a bit off, isn't it?
I really haven't read the survey that carefully, but if I can punch holes in the survey without really reading it, that not a terribly great sign isn't it? I mean, even their Sex Survey was better, and that ain't saying much. I shudder to think how bad the rest of it is - like the Medical and Engineering bits.
And I'm pretty sure that half the issue is full of adverts from educational institutions with dubious records and questionable recognition from bodies such as AICTE and UGC. So India Today Group must have made a pile of money from the issue (It is a really bad issue - the market crash story is nothing more than a very badly done compilation of other news reports which even an intern could have put together - that is what happens when you try to do a markets story out of Delhi by someone who has no clue how the markets operate). It is a sad fact of life that unless you score stupendously well in your +2 exam, your college choice is pretty much, well, done for.
This blog stands for a few things, and exposing the frailty of India's most dubious educational survey is one of them. I have no doubt that St Xavier's College, Mumbai has produced some remarkable people and on history alone it should be one of India's best colleges - but the method employed and some of the results are questionable. Which means the entire issue is questionable - not surprising because it comes from what I honestly believes is an increasingly questionable publication (The Spice add-on is a skin show, well, at least that is honest...)
If you must judge colleges in India, there are better methods to do it. I don't want to pontificate on how to do conduct such a survey, but maybe taking some clues from the slew of B-School surveys (at least some of the better ones) could be a start.


sv said...

The IT surveye every year is a pile of shit. More on this later

GBO said...

are you trying to resign or wot?

K said...

GBO : Don't worry, I think Outlook is bad as well - their current cover story is fascinatingly awful. But India Today takes the cake - and hundreds of thousands of students across the country depend on this report. My aunt is one of the country's top career counsellor's and she pointed out a lot of the errors in this story. Just pointing out things as usual man... just pointing out stuff.

GBO said...

I know Outlook and India Today both are kind of running low on gas lately, but more importantly, let's fix stuff boss, let's do more than just point out stuff? Thanks . . .

K said...

How? Pray that intelligence strikes thousands of journalists overnight? Not happening. Thats why this blog, hopefully someone will read it and not base judgements based on prejudiced or plain incorrect media reports.

GBO said...

How about a Jay Leno inspired "media goofs" kind of blog, based on (moderated??) inputs?

That media wars thing was far too immature, I think.

K said...

You mean WFN
its 'is' not 'was'. While I like the blog per se, the comments section is like a gossip bulletien board! Crazy! I know who exactly is doing what where... I really don't need to know!

asimit said...

I wholeheartedly agree on this opne.
And while we are at it, I do not see Xaviers in the top 3 Indian arts colleges for sure! And thats a fact. For a simple reason being that cut-offs, which are an important parameter of a college's academic excellence are not uniform acroos the board. Though cut-offs for the general category may be close to 90s, the reserved category that constitutes 50% of the populace is never beyond 75%!

Anonymous said...

I disagree. St Xavier's has some of the best faculty in the country, some of the highest rankers in the BA degree and offers lots of non-academic opportunities for students. Sour grapes Asimit?