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Building World-Class Universities in Developing Systems: The Success Case of the Indian Institutes of Technology



Jung Hyun Ryu


With a global shift towardsknowledge-based economy,universities are required to produce knowledge and cutting-edge technologies to support their respectivecountry’s economy. In response, many countries around the world seek to build their own world-class universities. Altbach (2010, p.1) arguesthat world-class universities‘demonstrate world class thinking and policy development in the sense that they employ state of the art solutions to pressing challenges of the twenty first century’.However, world-class universitiesare found only in a few wealthy Western countries. For instance, if one takes a quick glance at Global University Rankings (GUR), nearly every top university issituated in a high-income country. There are exceptions, such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), which are known to produce the world’s most creative engineers. The GUR of IIT steadily rose over the past few years, drawing much attention from the industry for its unprecedented success. This research aims to trace the successful path of IIT to identify its success factors which may serve as reference points for other developing systems that aim to build world-class universitiesof their own. The study takes the two most prominent IIT, namely IIT Delhi andIIT Bombay.It also hypothesises and investigates whether the considerable amount ofinternational co-operation activities IIT engaged in at the establishments have played a significant role in its success. The findings of the study showed that IIT’s limited financial resourceswere complemented by a highly concentrated pool of talented and motivated students,as well as professors who have abundant experiences in top-tier research and technical firms aboard. Another major factor was the government’s dedication. The government focused on creating a favourable environment for the institution and also prioritised IIT in its allocation of financial resources. Meanwhile, the study was unsuccessful in illustrating the role of international cooperation as the two sets of the collected data were contradictive.


World-class university, IIT, India, rankings, international Co-operation, aid


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