As per the data for the QS World University Rankings released this week, the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) seems to have received a setback, with its ranking dropping from the previous position — 700-800 among universities worldwide in 2016 — to one of the varsities that rank between 800 and 1000th positions in the latest survey.

Varsity officials, however, claimed that the SPPU didn’t actively participate in the ranking exercise, and the data quoted in it was also “wrong” and “points to an error of judgment”. In the past couple of years, SPPU has been participating in the UK-based Times Higher Education World Rankings, where it has been placed between 600-800 among universities worldwide.

While for the Times Higher Education World Rankings, SPPU officials send data on their own for assessment, data for the QS World University Rankings is picked up from sources unknown to the varsity, said officials.

“We do not participate in these ranking exercises… the data wasn’t sent by us. Also, there is discrepancy in the data about the university… which points to erroneous data being picked up. There is no question of commenting on why rankings may have dropped, since the authenticity of the data is not clear,” said Vice-Chancellor Nitin Karmalkar. Even former vice-chancellor Wasudeo Gade supported Karmalkar’s view, saying the SPPU had never participated in these rankings and the data had been picked up from unknown sources.

Savitribai Phule Pune University, SPPU, QS World University Rankings, education newsSenior university officials, who have been part of various ranking processes, said the first discrepancy is in the number of teaching staff and students — 575 and 5,400 respectively — as mentioned in the rankings. These figures are far from accurate, said officials.

Also, the rankings have been given to the University of Pune, while the name of the varsity changed to SPPU many years ago. This points to an ignorance of ground realities at the university, said officials.

“The SPPU has not provided any data to the QS World University Rankings. The data quoted in the ranking exercise do not reflect the strength of the university and has no resemblance to the facts. We still respect such exercises and will study their assessment methodologies for appropriate action,” said Prafulla Pawar, dean of the faculty of Commerce and Management.

While senior educationists agree that each ranking mechanism is different and a drop in ratings does not necessarily mean a decline in quality, they said the methodology behind the exercise must be studied for better analysis of present strategy.

“Firstly, I don’t believe that a drop in rankings means a decline in the standard or quality. That is because each ranking has its own methodology and not all of them are perfect. However, if the drop is noticed in the same survey or international ranking where the same methodology is adopted year on year, then it may be wise to study this methodology to ascertain the reason behind the change in rating. It could provide an inkling about things that need to be worked upon, but this is an analysis which the topmost hierarchy of the university has to conduct for the purpose of introspection,” said Arun Nigvekar, former chairperson of the University Grants Commission and a former vice-chancellor of the Pune University.