The card that Dr Karthick Sridhar gives me describes him as ED and CEO of La Providence Group, but what is top on his mind is his role as the vice chairman of the Indian Centre for Assessment and Accreditation (ICAA), devoted to quality advancement in the Indian higher education sector.
From Karthick’s LinkedIn page, one learns that ICAA’s chairman is T. V. Mohandas Pai, and that the chief mentor is Dr Arun Nigavekar. The Centre’s members include Dr M. S. Swaminathan, Dr R. Natarajan, Dr A. Gnanam, Prof S. P. Thyagarajan, Narayanan Ramaswamy, Seeram Ramakrishna, Deepak Lamba, Santhanakrishnan, V. Ponraj, and Dr G. Viswanathan.“It is very unfortunate that none of the Indian universities feature in the top 200 of the QS World University Rankings,” rues Karthick. “The IITs which were supposed to showcase India’s brand to the world are not there. The ICAA intends to build a bridge between the IITs and the global ranking agencies to help the IITs understand the ranking system better.”
The ICAA, in partnership with QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) provides a range of services and solutions that equip the government and universities with a comparative basis and valuable tools to promote higher standards and encourage long-term strategies for social and economic development in the Indian higher education sector, informs Karthick.
The vision, he says, is to bring them first within the global top 200 and then in the world’s top 100. “With a PhD in social entrepreneurship under the guidance of Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh, I thought it is much better for me to spend time and energy and resources to help organisations build brand and strength and move from one ranking to another year after year, rather than be in the corporate world and do the same thing that many of my peers are continuing to do. I find this very interesting.”
Reacting to a recent news report that Panjab University beats IITs, enters top 400 club in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2013-14, Karthick wrote that if a thorough analysis of Indian universities were undertaken, many such examples would emerge. “Unfortunately, there is no single de-facto ranking system of repute in our country. We continue to depend on global ranking agencies. What we need is a very strong and independent listing of our Top 100 Universities – from which we could share data of the 'Top 25' to global ranking agencies – from there at least 3-5 could make it to the Global Top 200.”
For a competition such as the Olympics, beauty pageants, Oscar Awards etc., we select strong entries to represent our country after making them go through rigorous local assessments, with a final aim to win, he observes. “However, when it comes to global university rankings, we make no efforts and expect miracles to happen.”