India slipped in world university rankings as its share of such institutions marginally fell from 31 to 30 in the global 1,000 lists topped by the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, according to a new assessment.
The annual World University Rankings released by Times Higher Education found India's flagship Indian Institute of Science fell from previous year's 201-250 band to 251-300.
This was attributed to drops in its research influence score and research income.
The Indian Institutes of Technologies in Delhi, Kanpur and Madras also dropped by at least one band.
"It is disappointing that India has declined in the THE World University Rankings amid increasing global competition. As leading universities in other Asian territories such as China, Hong Kong and Singapore are consistently rising up the rankings, in part thanks to high and sustained levels of funding, India's flagship Indian Institute of Science moves further away from the elite top 200," said Phil Baty, Editorial Director, Global Rankings, for THE.
"However, there is some really positive news in that India's overall research income and research quality has risen this year, and the country's world class university plan shows that it recognises the importance of investing in higher education, which may reverse India's decline in the rankings in future years," he said.
Indian universities performed poorly on the "internationalisation pillar", with all except one dropping places when ranked on this measurement, mainly due to other universities rising at a faster rate.
The rankings experts attributed this to the Indian government policy which "strictly limits the number of students from abroad who can study in India and prevents international scholars from being hired into long-term faculty positions".
According to THE rankings, India may recover on this metric because of its world-class university plan, which aims to provide additional funding for selected public and private universities for infrastructure and academics.
It noted while the government announced in August that it would put on hold its plan to allow foreign universities to set up campuses and award degrees in the country, it said that the 20 universities chosen for the Excellence Initiative will be given the freedom to recruit foreign faculty, admit more foreign students and collaborate with foreign institutions on education and research.
Besides the highest ranked IISc within the 251-300 band, IIT Bombay retains its 351-400 slot, followed by IIT Delhi, Kanpur, Kharagpur and Roorkee in the lower bracket of 501-600.
Aligarh Muslim University, Banaras Hindu University, University of Delhi and IIT Guwahati complete the Indian top 10 within the worldwide rankings.
Globally, the University of Oxford retains first place in the rankings, with the University of Cambridge climbing two places to the second place, overtaking California Institute of Technology and Stanford University, both joint third.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard, Princeton, Imperial College London and University of Chicago complete the global top 10.
While the US continues to dominate the rankings, Chinese universities have been commended for rapidly climbing year- on-year.
"The big story this year is the continued rise of China with two institutions in the top 30 for the first time and other improvements from across Asia. Continental Europe maintains its strong performance but other regions such as Latin America and Africa are suffering amid increasing competition."