HYDERABAD: Institutions from Hyderabad failed to make it to the list of ‘Institutions of Eminence’ announced by the Centre on Monday. The list of six institutes selected includes Jio Institute by Reliance Foundation, which has not yet started operations. The selection drew much criticism from academics. The list includes Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, chosen because of its improvement in world rankings and IIT-Bombay and IIT-Delhi picked for their contribution to research and for meeting the goal of 14 per cent female student participation.
Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani, and Manipal Academy of Higher Education were chosen from the private sector, apart from the Jio Institute. These institutes will get a government grant of Rs 1,000 crore in the next five years. The criterion for selection was that they should have the potential to find a place in the top 500 of any of the world-renowned ranking frameworks in a decade. Jio Institute was trending on Twitter with many users tagging the HRD minister, asking him about the institute’s location and credentials.
The University Grants Commission defended the move saying the institution was accorded the coveted tag under greenfield category for new or proposed institutions that are yet to come into existence. “It doesn’t have a campus, a website or any alumni and it has left behind prominent IITs as well as private players like Ashoka University and OP Jindal Global University. It is yet to be established but will already be marketed as a world class institution by the government. Can’t we see the conflict of interest,” JNU professor Ayesha Kidwai said.
“What is Jio Institute? I thought only I didn’t know its eminence but looks like everyone knew of its existence only today,” a Twitter user said. A professor from IISc-Bangalore, which was also accorded the “Institute of Eminence” (IoE) tag, tweeted, “How did @Prakash Javdekar evaluate this Jio Institute to decide it was better than IIT-M or IIT-KGP or so many other Institutions? How can an Institution that is in the process of being set up be declared Institution of Eminence? What are we missing here?”
HRD minister Prakash Javadekar, released the list, said that despite having 800 universities, not a single one was in the top 100 or even 200 in the world rankings. Upgrading institutions to institutes of eminence would help correct this. The institutes have been granted full autonomy, allowing them to make their own decisions. As per the University Grants Commission Regulations, 2017, the ministry was to select 20 IoEs, 10 each in the private and 10 public sectors. The ministry narrowed down the list to six. A high-level committee was formed to shortlist the entries solicited from the institutes on the basis of their research calibre and other criteria.
These IoEs will be able to admit foreign students up to 30 per cent of the student strength, and recruit foreign faculty up to 25 per cent of the faculty strength and collaborate with foreign institutes without government approval. While IISc was ranked first in the all-India NIRF (National Institutional Ranking Framework) rankings of the government in 2018, IIT Bombay and Delhi were ranked third and fourth. Jio Institute did not feature in the NIRF rankings at all, and its inclusion has raised eyebrows.
However, a member of the selection committee clarified that Jio Institute under the Reliance Foundation was selected under the “greenfield category” — institutes that have no history. The proposal sent by the Jio Foundation was found fit for the tag as they had a plan in place along with funding and a place for a campus.
Prof. Laxmi Rao, an educational expert, said, “The decision was based on the quality of research i.e. if it was useful to someone, if it was quoted and others. Similarly the number of vacant teaching positions were also checked. Quality of teaching is crucial and the ranking clearly states that faculty should be encouraged to publish in popular journals.”
Prof. Rao said these steps should be pushed in all institutions. They should be stripped of their status if they fail to live up to expectations. “Hopefully, new institutions will be given the same status as the Jio Institute under the greenfield category in the future,” Prof. Rao said. IIT Madras, ranked second, IIT Kharagpur, ranked fifth, JNU, ranked sixth and IIT Kanpur, ranked seven in the NIFR rankings did not find a place. Manipal was ranked 18th in India. The government had stated that they will create Institutes of Eminence in 2016, which will be termed as world class Institutes. The idea was to grant special powers to these institutes in order to catapult them in the world rankings....