The decision by the Centre to grant the status of institute of eminence to Reliance Foundation’s proposed Jio Institute, if it commences the academic operations within three years has not gone down well with the academic community and the veterans of the field.
In clarification, the Centre stated that this was done under the yet to come category which is different from the public and private institutions. S.K.Sopory, Former Vice-Chancellor of JNU started that the idea of a future institution being seen as an institute of eminence makes no sense. The institute has not even come up and there is no way of it proving itself. He further stated that eminence requires a reputation which an institute earns. The Government could support the institution in a different manner but eminence is not a suitable terminology for an institute that does not exist and has not proved itself.
Jio Institue is one of the six colleges which have been selected as an Institute of Eminence. It is a status which will ensure complete autonomy and will facilitate them to make a mark in the global education ranking. Apart from JIO, the other five institutes include IIT-Bombay, Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences, IIT-Delhi, Indian Institute of Science-Bangalore and Manipal Academy of Higher Education. All these institutions are running well but JIO does not exist and it is already on the list.
An IISC Bangalore professor tweeted to Prakash Javdekar on how did he decide that JIO institute was better than IIT KGP or IIT M and many other institutions. He echoed the sentiments of lakhs of people who are voicing their anger over the micro-blogging site.
The Ministry of Human Resource Development came out with an explanation on how the institute was accorded the coveted status. According to the Centre, JIO Institute has been given the tag under the Greenfield project, the purpose of which is to allow private investors to build global class educational infrastructure and there were four parameters on which the applications were judged. The parameters include the availability of land for the purpose of construction, availability of funding for the setting up of the institution, putting in place a core team with high experience and qualification and a vision plan with clean milestone and action plan. The committee decided that out of 11 applicants only JIO satisfied all the four parameters and hence was issued the letter of intent for setting up the Institute of Eminence. The Ministry also clarified that private institutions under this project will not receive any funding from the government. There were a total of 114 applications received by the Ministry, 74 from the public sector and 40 from the private sector.
It is expected that these institutions will come up in the top 500 of the world ranking in 10 years and top 100 of the world ranking over a period of time. So far no Indian institute has figured in the top 100 best universities in World University Ranking. The Ministry of Human Resource Development stated that to achieve the top world ranking, these institutions will have an autonomy to admit foreign students up to 30 per cent of total students and to recruit foreign faculty up to 25 per cent of the faculty strength. In addition, these institutions can offer online courses up to 20 per cent of the programs and also enter into academic collaboration with the top 500 in the world ranking Institutions without the permission of UGC. The institutions are also free to fix and charge fees from the foreign students without any restrictions.
Initially, the government had planned to upgrade 20 institutions as world-class teaching and research institutions called as Institutions of Eminence. There were supposed to be ten from the public sector and ten from the private sector. However, the committee headed by the former chief election commissioner N Gopalaswami recommended the selection of only six institutions. Academic Ramachandra Guha tweeted that this preferential treatment to an Ambani University is shocking. Especially when there are first class private universities which have been bypassed.