Rubbing Shoulders with the World – The Institutes of Eminence

The government of India recently released a list of Institutions declaring them ‘Institutes of Eminence’. This places 6 (3 public and 3 private institutions) selected deemed to be universities in a distinct category regulated differently from the others offering an increased academic autonomy and lesser restrictions from the University Grants Commission to innovate in education and research in an attempt to enable the Institutions to climb up in World Rankings. The Ministry has also declared a grant of Rs 1000 Cr for the betterment of the facilities and infrastructure of Public Universities along. This was given to promote the development and the transformation of these Institutions to top-notch Schools with world class amenities.

These institutions shall be provided with greater autonomy viz. to admit foreign students up to 30% of admitted students; to recruit foreign faculty upto 25% of faculty strength; to offer online courses upto 20% of its programmes; to enter into academic collaboration with top 500 in the world ranking Institutions without permission of UGC; free to fix and charge fees from foreign students without restriction; flexibility of course structure in terms of number of credit hours and years to take a degree; complete flexibility in fixing of curriculum and syllabus, etc.

The selected institutions namely – IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi, IISc Bangalore, BITS Pilani, MAHE Manipal, and the greenfield (proposed) Jio Institute were recently announced as IoEs by Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javedakar, in a Press Release earlier today.

In a recent internal email the Vice Chancellor, Dr. H Vinod Bhat, sent to the Faculty of MAHE, he stated that “This is a defining moment for MAHE, falling in the Silver Jubilee year. The responsibilities attached to this coveted status are mammoth but not insurmountable. The expectations from the country by way of Excellence, Expansion and Equity; culminating in a leadership role on the global scenario, are to be addressed from now on.”

The selection Criteria for this grant contained an extensive list of parameters. The Institution should have been operating for a minimum of 15 years.  They should be multi-disciplinary or inter-disciplinary. They should have foreign-qualified faculty and a mix of Indian and foreign students and there should also be at least one teacher for every 20 students. Many public, private and deemed Universities applied for this grant but only 6 were selected

The inclusion of the Jio Institute hasn’t been without controversy. This institution does not have anything that was mentioned in the selection criteria and it simply does not exist. After maintaining silence about the decision for a while, the Ministry released a Press Information Document where the Jio Institute was stated to look at being intends one of the “youngest global top 100 universities”, and will “empower students to learn and excel in their chosen disciplines and empower faculty” with plans to crate a fully functional residential University Town. 

Applications for the IoE stature were invited in September 2017, with equal chance given to public, private and greenfield institutes to make their pitch. The Institute, according to N Gopalaswami, former Chief Election Commissioner and Head of the Selection Committee, is technically not an IoE yet, but has only been selected for the honor and will have to show results in three years which will then be presented to the Government. As supposedly none of the other universities seemed to have met the standards of NIRF, in a rather surprising move, the honor was bestowed on the proposed Institution.

This tag comes with huge bragging rights for MAHE which already is the first Deemed to be Private Universities in the country, and now is one of the first Institutes of Eminence. “This would not have been possible without the efforts of the Directors and Administrators of MAHE, who have worked tirelessly to achieve this status,” remarked Dr. Bhat in his communique. Here is hoping for greater success for MAHE post this achievement!

About Navaneethcrshna Upadhyaya 24 Articles
Mildly entertaining, occasionally funny, and something pretentious 'coz the first two are too mainstream...