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a)The India Today law school rankings have been a topic of constant debate over the years and for the most part, can be a redundant topic. However, do read on to see what is the best way in which a law school ranking system can be undertaken and who should undertake the same.                                                

b)The views espoused in this post are completely unbiased.                                

c)Expecting that students from colleges whose names appear in the top 10 list would be dead against criticizing the rankings, I would request objectivity on their part while reading the post so that a better ranking system by the BCI or any like governing body can be suggested.

The famous India Today ‘India’s best colleges’ rankings are back. And yet again, they have delivered according to their expectations. While more NLU’s have made it to the top 10 list this time around, which evidences the fact that a preliminary research to understand the system of the CLAT has been undertaken, the rankings have still been poorly researched and have been compiled according to convenience. Merely interviewing NLSIU and NALSAR Vice Chancellors while mentioning NLU Jodhpur as NLIU, Jodhpur on Rank 8 and bringing GNLU into Rank 9 while making its entrance exam as a separate one, distinct from the CLAT, again raises questions as to why India Today even makes the effort to rank law schools.

The India Today rankings have always been the most awaited college ranking system and on a closer look, it can be observed that apart from Law, other avenues of education are more deeply researched and are better compiled. It is based on a perceptual and factual scoring system which grades colleges on a pre determined scale.

Law has seen a recent surge in terms of awareness, exposure and development and therefore, college rankings have never been more important for a college student in India. But, dependability upon a ranking system has always been questionable.

In the US, the American Bar has almost by custom, made it a point to not participate in law school rankings, at times even stating that ‘these rankings are a misleading and deceptive, profit-generating commercial enterprise that compromises U.S. News and World Report's journalistic integrity." Standard factors considered for the ranking are placement, academic exposure, and selectivity in admission, faculty resources and expenditures. There was even a report (Maccrate Report) by the American Bar Association in 1992 to streamline the education system in 1992 which was met by vehement opposition by the top 14 law colleges appearing in the ranking list.

In the UK, The League Tables of British Universities published by various sources such as the Guardian, the Independent etc. is the most preferred ranking system. This ranking system is much more holistic with reliance not purely on academic/research oriented factors. The factors used to assess universities include not only the quality of research but other factors which are relevant to undergraduate students such as teaching quality, entry standards, drop out rates, student satisfaction and graduate job prospect. Even these rankings have been criticized for the varying weights given to various factors before they are actually published.

Coming back to India, the situation as stated above, suffers from a combination of multiple drawbacks. To begin with, factual errors such as stating the name of a law school incorrectly, speak volumes about how reliable these rankings are, in addition to this, law as a field requires specific criteria to be assessed for grading, Always, a common mode to assess law schools has been through ‘Placement’, and this gets reflected in the ranking as well since perceptual criteria would be based on it. Therefore, most people only look at the placement and how compatible the vice chancellor of the college is with recruiters and the media, completely missing the issue as to whether a student is holistically developed in the environment he is given.

 Other factors mentioned are also very abstract and subjective and don’t really indicate the true picture, for instance, student care, exposure and quality of academic input in colleges apart from NUJS, NALSAR or NLSIU would always be questionable since they are older and better equipped, at least as far as general perception goes(subject to correction of course). Therefore, there exists no authenticity on which any of the scores given to a law school for a particular aspect mentioned can be verified. Most students would rely on a magazine ranking to decide where exactly they are heading blinded by rankings which by itself are unsure of what they portray. For instance, University Law College, Bangalore could provide better academic input in terms of the number of guest lectures and legal luminaries who teach students compared to any of the newer NLU’s. Reputation of a college in a law school ranking can be adjusted at will through means most people are aware of but this adjustment of reputation comes at the comforting convenience of a student taking admission into a highly ranked law school even though it does not offer what he may require.

The Bar Council of India has undergone a sea change in terms of the number of reforms it has introduced. The announcement of the Bar Exam was a brilliant move, so was the plagiarism software. A ranking system devised by the Government based on factors determined solely by the Law Ministry to be released on a periodical basis can be the best means to assess the true caliber of law schools. India can be a first in this regard, and it would go a long way in helping students choose the best college according to their convenience and requirement. Not every student looks for a placement, students interested in research could go to a law school which is best suited for research, if the ranking does rank colleges properly in each criteria instead of stating that a college is ranked 5 and randomly puts rank 5 in all categories mentioned. Government approved ranking systems do exist in other fields such as engineering and students taking up courses in Engineering have the dual benefit of being better informed and better equipped; Law too can be a field which can be benefited almost immediately from the same.

Here’s the link to the India Today Law School Ranking

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