In a bid to improve the rankings of the Indian institutes globally, the Human Resource Development Ministry (MHRD), on the 9th of July 2018, announced the name of six universities which have been deemed eligible for the ‘Institute of Eminence’ (IoE) status.
While Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, IIT Delhi and Indian Institute of Science Bangalore are the three public universities selected under this list, Jio Institute by Reliance Foundation, BITS Pilani, and Manipal Academy of Higher Education are the three private universities which have been granted the status of ‘IoE’.
Rationale And Implications
Prakash Ravi Kumar, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering at IIT Bombay, which features in the list of IoEs, told DU Beat, “The government’s proposal to set up Institutions of Eminence had come after no Indian University had found a place in World University Rankings last year. This proposal was followed by an official notification released by the University Grants Commission (UGC) in September 2017.”
According to the panel, the Empowered Expert Committee (EEC), which had chosen the IoEs, the chosen institutes showed the potential to find a place among top 500 of global rankings. Unlike other institutions, IoEs will get greater autonomy to start new courses, admit foreign students, hire foreign faculty, and collaborate with foreign educational institutions without the need for government approval.
Manoj Kumar, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering at IIT Delhi told the DU Beat correspondent in a phone call conversation, “One of the implications of our institution being a part of this list is that this tag frees us from many regulations governing higher education and fetches us INR 1,000 crore spread over five years.”
Interestingly, in conversation with students of some of the institutions which were conferred IoE status, there was substantial skepticism regarding the same.
Anand Sinha, a final year student of Production and Industrial Engineering at IIT Delhi told DU Beat, “It is indeed a proud moment for us to be chosen among the Institutes of Eminence by the MHRD. However, how exactly the government wishes to place us among the top 500 institutions of the world is a little questionable.”
Vandana Kaul, Professor at Deshbandhu College of the University of Delhi told DU Beat, “I don’t see how Jio Institute, which does not even appear on the Google Search results, managed to find itself among these deemed institutions.”
Significantly, the list of institutes chosen features the Jio Institute, which is yet to be launched.
Amid questions of the credibility of the list and allegations of favouritism, the University Grants Commission – a panel of which carried out the selections – said the institution made it to the list under the greenfield category for new or proposed institutions.
The UGC clarified that the regulations allowed “greenfield institutions” or new projects to apply and Jio Institute was proposed by Reliance Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Reliance India Limited that is led by the Chairperson of the Reliance Foundation, Nita Ambani.
Despite these clarifications, many critiques have suggested that the Union government’s alleged closeness with the Ambani family influenced the decision. Many others questioned how any university can be judged worse than a non-existent one.
Whether granting the tag of IoE to these institutions will indeed help them secure a place in world rankings is subject to debate, the result of which will only be produced with time.
Feature Image Credits: News Nation
Vaibhavi Sharma Pathak