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JGLS, NLSIU break into 100-200 global best law schools in QS world university rankings [UPDATE: QS methods explained in-depth]

Both colleges have had stated aims to hack their way into the rankings for a few years, which have now apparently borne fruits

JGLS, NLS crack global QS law school rankings
JGLS, NLS crack global QS law school rankings

Two Indian law schools, NLSIU Bangalore and JGLS Sonepat, have for the first time found a place on the global QS World University Rankings by subject, law in the 100 to 200 ranks out of 894 law schools globally.

JGLS pipped NLSIU on all of QS’ ranking criteria, including academic reputation, employer reputation, and its scores significantly exceeded NLSIU’s in academic citations (see more details below).

JGLS, whose parent institution Jindal Global University (JGU Sonepat) had made it into the top 1,000 QS “world college rankings” last year after a benchmarking initiative, has entered the global law school rankings in position 101 to 150.

NLSIU Bangalore, for which it is the first time in QS though it has been part of the university’s stated aim for at least two years to enter, has debuted in the 151-200 ranks.

We don’t have any information at present that any other law schools in India have tried for the QS rankings, though one would imagine that several other Indian national law schools (with arguably stronger research output than NLS), should be able to make it if they were to try for it.

Breakdown

JGU law ranking scores
JGU law ranking scores

JGLS’ and NLSIU’s scores were almost the same in academic reputation (67.7 and 65.3 respectively) and employer reputation (83.4 and 29.3 respectively), with JGLS scoring a sliver more points than NLSIU.

However, unsurprisingly considering NLSIU’s permanent faculty hiring freeze for more than a decade and JGLS’ rapid expansion on the same front, JGLS’ so-called “H-index citations” and “citations per paper” metrics are nearly double NLSIU’s (see charts above and below).

NLS law ranking scores
NLS law ranking scores

JGU founding vice chancellor Prof Raj Kumar said in a press statement: “It is an extraordinary and unprecedented ‘institutional moment’ for JGU to witness history as its first school, the Jindal Global Law School, is ranked number 1 in India and among the top 101-150 in the world.”

This year too, JGU had an “Office of Ranking, Benchmarking and Institutional Transformation (ORBIT)“, with its directors Prof Ashish Bharadwaj and Prof Arjya Majumdar noting in the press release: “Having been recognised as the number one law school in India, JGLS is well-positioned to make a significant research-driven contribution towards building a just, inclusive and democratic society.”

The rankings game and its importance

Global law toppers
Global law toppers

The top five global law schools in the QS rankings are Harvard University, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, Yale University and Stanford University.

The QS university rankings are pretty prestigious globally, particularly in the Anglophone West, having formerly collaborated with the Times Higher Education (THE) magazine, which is part of UK-based The Times newspaper.

Since 2010, THE had been doing its own competing ranking, however, and the company it had collaborated with, Quacquarelli Symonds, had continued the QS World University Rankings by itself (in part as a marketing effort for its global educational and careers fairs, though the research unit operates independently from its events function).

While QS is one of the more authoritative rankings of universities globally, its reach in India had been more limited to date. But with JGLS and NLSIU now having entered the fray at least in the legal field, that could change.

That said, it exists alongside the Human Resources Development (HRD) Ministry India Rankings Society (IRS) system (formerly the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), which is arguably still more influential domestically due to greater Indian university participation.

Arguably, QS’ value for Indian law schools would still lie primarily in building a global reputation, which has been very much JGLS’ aim (and is literally in its name). That in turn could attract international faculty and students, something most national law universities have not really focused on to date.

We have reached out to NLSIU and QS for further comment.

QS explained

Update 19:35: We have spoken to QS Quacquarelli Symonds regional director Ashwin Fernandes, who has explained the methodology behind the global subject specific rankings in more detail.

First off, said Fernandes, for the subject ranking, “all the data is collected independently by QS” based on information coming from outside the university, and there was “no submission by the university at all” required to be included in the subject ranking.

Particularly, the research output metrics are based on a law school’s papers and citations in academic papers listed in Elsevier’s research database Scopus and not on any submissions of the law school of its own journals or publications, he said.

As such, it was possible to improve the ranking of a law school by strategically pushing for its faculty to publish in more journals that were part of the Scopus database, explained Fernandes.

The other main limbs of the subject specific rankings were the academic and employer reputation of a college.

“In employer reputation we run a global survey every year,” said Fernandes. “Last year we had 45,000 employers around the world and what they tell us [about] which universities produce the best graduates for them.”

Again, that research was independently carried out by QS. However, the company does ask law schools for its list of “top 10” recruiters, which then form part of the corpus.

So if a law school participates on this front by putting forward its most active recruiting law firms and corporates, this would effect its score positively. “You would aid yourself by providing these contacts,” he noted about law schools submitting such contacts, though participation from recruiters was entirely optional. However, such recruiters would likely also reference other top law schools meaning that submitting law school were “not just aiding themselves”.

The academic reputation metric consisted of a survey of primarily international academics. “International reputation is much more valuable in the QS ranking,” said Fernandes. “Any university ranking which has international repute, would do better.”

When asked whether JGLS and NLSIU or other Indian law schools had made active submissions for inclusion in the world rankings (which, unlike the subject specific rankings also have an explicit submissions process), Fernandes said that such applications were confidential.

Fernandes explained that all in all, the rankings and research unit of QS, also dubbed its “intelligence” wing, was independent of any other commercial activity of QS, such as its student fairs and events managing arm, though the rankings did include some commercial elements in its QS stars system. “But the rankings unit itself is independent but does not have any obligations [towards the commercials],” he said.

Update 22:04: The breakdown between the four criteria in compiling the ranking is:

  • Academic reputation 50%
  • Employer reputation 30%
  • H Index 15%
  • Citations per paper 5%
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