Jio Institute The Rising Star For The ‘Institute of Eminence’ Status

The Human Resource Development Ministry on Monday announced the Six Higher Education Institutions who are given the status of “Institution of Eminence (IoE)” out of which was the proposed Jio Institute of the Reliance Foundation which hasn’t laid its foundation yet. This has led to a lot of chaos on the social media, Let’s get some insights into the Controversy that has given sleepless nights to the HRD Ministry.

Six Higher Education Institutions who are given the status of “Institution of Eminence (IoE) are:

  1. The Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore
  2. The Indian Institutes of Technology, Mumbai
  3. The Indian Institutes of Technology, Delhi
  4. Manipal Academy of Higher Education
  5. BITS, Pilani
  6. The proposed Jio Institute

The selection of the Jio Institute by Reliance Foundation for the ‘Institute of Eminence’ (IoE) status has received massive criticism on social media. The IoE status is meant to support 10 public and 10 private institutions in creating enabling architecture for them to emerge as world-class institutions. The irony is that this Institute does not exist at the moment and has no track record of their performance, hence raising many questions against this move.

Jio Institute - Institute of Eminence (IOE)

What is IoE Status?

The main Idea of giving the ‘Institute of Eminence’ (IoE) status to Universities is to make a World-class University in the coming years. The Institutions had three options under which they could apply, the following are those categories:

  1. Public Institutions
  2. Private Institutions
  3. Greenfield Institutions

The Greenfield category is for the private institutions that were found very promising at the proposal stage. In totality, 114 Institutions applied, 73 being public and 40 private among which 11 applications came in the greenfield category. For the first time in the history of Indian Higher Education system, the government seems to acknowledge that the governance of these institutions is somehow hindering the development to achieve excellence.

So, here are some key features of IoE :

  1. The selected public universities will get Rs 1,000 crore of funding and will be given autonomy whereas the private universities will only receive the autonomous status but no monetary support.
  2. Despite given the IoE status, the government will have regulatory oversight of the universities to ensure they pursue excellence.
  3. In the Current scenario, no University cannot appoint a foreign faculty, collaborate, partner, exchange, cooperate with any foreign University, without taking permission from UGC/MHRD.
  4. Only six universities were granted this status because The Ministry of Finance( MoF) couldn’t find Rs 10,000 crores. All they gave was Rs 3,000 crores after a four-year delay.

Jio Institute - Yet to lay its foundation

Why was Jio Institute Selected?

The selection of Jio for this status was shocking to many as it surpassed the top existing private institute as well. A lot of people questioned the credibility of this decision as the University hasn’t even come up, hence there’s no way for it to prove it’s excellence in education. A lot of Universities Administrators who applied are also wondering what was the criteria of selection, whether an existing institution’s track record surpasses the quality of the plans for the future for the selection committee. In fact, selection of an institute from greenfield category wasn’t necessary at all.

Even in the greenfield category, Jio has surpassed many. For instance, the proposal of Krea University in Tamil Nadu which has the former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan as an adviser and the well-established Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, was passed over by Jio.

The Former chief election commissioner, N Gopalaswami, is heading the selection committee said in an interview that the other Institutes under the greenfield category didn’t have that promising proposal and didn’t even have a land. They were also negotiating with the government for a tax waiver for the transfer of funds. The panel also kept in mind the Promoter group of the Jio Institute while selecting it. The Panel also claimed that the financial standing, the commitment of finances and infrastructure for the new project looks promising and can provide excellence in education in future.

The institute’s name ‘Jio’ links it to Reliance’s mobile telephone business, which itself used Modi’s face prominently in its advertising campaigns despite the government norms restraining this. The Jio institute has no trace of public data except a statement issued by Nita Ambani in March 2018:

“A university at the cutting edge of research and innovation.A university that focuses on education and sports, art and culture.”

She hinted on collaboration with top universities all around the world and further described the university as,

“A university from the gates of which will emerge our future leaders, our musicians, our scientists, and our Olympians.”

A lot of people used Social media as a platform to show their distaste about this decision. Academician Ramachandra Guha tweeted, “This preferential treatment to an Ambani University that does not yet exist is shocking. Particularly when several first-rate private universities have been bypassed.”

Jio Institute - The HRD View Point

The HRD ministry issued an official response clarifying the air around this selection. The ministry’s detailed retort made clarified that

“Clause of the UGC (Institutions of Eminence Deemed to be Universities) Regulation 2017 provides for a new proposal to establish an institution to be considered under this project”.

To which The Delhi University Teacher’s Association also said that the inclusion of clauses which allow institution on paper to have such Status is an academic corruption of the highest order which is unfair to the other existing Universities and the education industry.

The MHRD tried to defend the government by saying that a Letters of intent would be issued to the Jio institute and they would be required to start the academic session within the coming three years of IoE to be considered. If their progress is not satisfactory, then there IoE status will be cancelled.

The funding of Universities for development and research is very low in India and the IoE status is a good move by the government.

But the selection of Jio Institute in this list is very questionable move.

Do you agree? What do you think?  Did the HRD Ministry make a right move?

Let us know what you think in the comments section.

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