The Union Human Resource Development ministry announced six educational institutions – three public and three private – as "Institutions of Eminence" on Monday. Reliance Foundation's Jio institute, which has not even started functioning yet, made it to the list leaving behind Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University.
The Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar on Monday announced the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi, Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay and Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, as the IoEs chosen from the public sector.
From the private sector, BITS Pilani, Manipal Academy of Higher Education and JIO Institute by Reliance Foundation were the three institutes mentioned by the Minister who have been granted the status.
The yet-to-be established 'JIO Institute' by Reliance Foundation which has now been called 'Institution of Eminence' (IoE) will entitle the tag-holders for special exemptions in aspects of how they operate the institutes.
When the name of ‘Jio Institute’ was announced, it created a flutter as a search online revealed that the institute was yet to begin its operations.
The ‘Institution of Eminence’ recognition will grant these institutes complete academic and administrative autonomy, enabling them to start new courses, hire foreign faculty and collaborate with foreign institutes without government's approval.
“As of today, Jio only exists as a proposal. Jio Institute has no record of academic or socially relevant accomplishments; one would be hard put to establish details about its faculty, campus infrastructure and courses. The inclusion of clauses which allow paper proposals to qualify as an ‘Eminent Institution’ is an academic corruption of highest order," said Rajib Ray, president of the Delhi University Teachers Association.
Institutions are not built in a day or on paper, asserted Ray. “It takes decades to build institutions of higher excellence. Hence, Jio Institute’s recognition is arbitrary and makes a mockery of this exercise. It proves the extent to which the MHRD, and by extension, this government, is besotted by corporations and big businesses. Such shameful decision become the basis of the fear that this government intends to put higher education up for sale,” emphasises Ray.
Rajib Ray, DUTA president: It takes decades to build institutions of higher excellence. Hence, Jio Institute’s recognition is arbitrary and makes a mockery of this exercise. It proves the extent to which the MHRD, and by extension, this government, is besotted by corporations and big businesses. Such shameful decision become the basis of the fear that this government intends to put higher education up for sale
When asked why Delhi University and JNU were not on the list, Javadekar said the selection was done under a "totally different category”. “ It's a totally different category. Their (Jio’s) proposal has the potential to make it to world rankings. Hence, it has been selected,” explained the minister.
The head of the committee which assessed the applications to shortlist the institutes for the status of IoU clarified that JIO Institute has been selected under the 'Greenfield' category. It was on the basis of its plans that the committee considered it for the status which is only provisional.
"It is greenfield institution. At this juncture, there's only a Letter of Intent. They're not same as established institutions. For a greenfield institution, they should have land, equipment, building, staff, etc and for that they need a lead time. So they have been given three years' time. It's only after that they will be given the status," said N Gopalaswami, Head of the Empowered Expert Committee.
Greenfield projects are those projects which start from the scratch and are not modifying or upgrading any already established projects. The latter are called brownfield projects.
Stung by the criticisms, ministry of HRD took to Twitter to ‘clarify’ and even stated those questioning the recognition of still-in-proposal-stage Jio Institute as spreading ‘misinformation’.
According to a proposal submitted by the firm to the committee, the JIO Institute will use Rs 9,500 crore in capital expenditure and will be located in a 'fully residential university city' in Pune.
As per the University Grants Commission (Institutions of Eminence Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2017, the Ministry was to select 20 IoEs—10 private and 10 public—and had formed a EEC to shortlist the entries solicited from the institutes on the basis of their research calibre and other criteria.
The government received 114 applications (74 public, 40 private) in total from the higher education institutes, out of these the six mentioned were recommended for the tag by the EEC. Each public institute will get financial assistance up to Rs 1,000 crore over for the period of five years under the scheme.
Interestingly, other corporates including Airtel and Vedanta had also applied for the tag for their institutions, but were not included in the list.