In a rare instance, India appears in a top 10 global ranking that wouldn't make its citizens cringe at the state of its polluted cities or criminal record. According the Times Higher Education (THE), Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore appears on position 8 in the Best Small Universities in the World 2017 survey.
The list, topped by Caltech in the US, has several Italian and French universities in the top 10. It evaluates the performance of institutions with less than 5,000 students. Last year, two other Indian universities, IIT-Guwahati and Savitribai Phule Pune University, had occupied the 14th and 18th spots respectively. Both are out of the top 20 this year.
As a THE representative explained, the best small universities are characterised by higher teacher to student ratios and are more connected as a community. Their smaller scale and intimate attention to students' need make them the more appealing to candidates.
IISc was established in 1909 with active support from Jamsethji Tata and Sir Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV, the Maharaja of Mysore, and has performed consistently well by global academic standards of excellence in spite of its relatively small faculty and student population.
In 2015-16 it became the first Indian institute to be ranked among the top 100 in the World University Rankings for engineering and technology, appearing at the 99th position. IISc also entered the top 15 universities for the first time in the BRICS and Emerging Economies University Rankings 2017 report.
The three French universities in the top 10 are École Normale Supérieure (2nd), École Polytechnique (4th) and École Normale Supérieure de Lyon (7th), while Italy's three in the top 10 are Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa (5th), Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna (6th) and the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano (10th).
South Korea's Pohang University of Science and Technology occupies the 3rd position, while the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences came 9th.
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