Fact Check: How The Non-Existent Jio Institute Got Its ‘Institution Of Eminence’ Status

Posted by Monica Koshy in Campus Watch, News
July 11, 2018

Six institutions of higher education including IIT Mumbai and Delhi and the forthcoming Jio instituted received the status of Institution of Eminence (IoE). On July 9, 2018, Prakash Javedkar took to Twitter to congratulate Manipal University, BITS Pilani and Jio Institute for attaining the ‘Institution of Eminence’ status. (IoE).

Selection Criterion

The HRD ministry had received a total of 114 applications – 74 from the public institutions and 40 from private institutions. Jio Institute was one of the six universities to get the IoE status.
The selection committee, which is known as the EEC (Empowered Expert Committee) was made to select 10 public and 10 private institutions; and, for this reason, there are more rounds to come.

The head of the “EEC” is N. Gopalaswami, the former Chief Election Commissioner who is now, also, the head of the RSS-affiliated Vivekananda Educational Society. The other members of the committee include Renu Khator, the Chancellor of the University of Houston, management professor Tarun Khanna of Harvard University and Pritam Singh, the former director of IIM, Lucknow. These people were chosen by the HRD ministry and their appointment was approved by the appointments committee of the cabinet headed by Modi.

According to the NIRF (National Institute Ranking Framework) ranking, the top seven colleges in India are; Indian Institute of Science (IISc), IIT Madras, IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi, IIT Kharagpur, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and IIT Kanpur. But, among these top seven only IISc, IIT Bombay and IIT Delhi managed to get the IoE status. Manipal University and BITS Pilani are ranked 18th and 26th on the NIRF ranking and from the top 7 colleges/ universities, only 3 got the status of IoE.

The benefits of the IoE status include making these institutes free from the regulations of the AICTE, UGC and/or the Higher Commission of India (which has replaced the UGC); being permitted up to 30% foreign students, autonomy to hire foreign faculty up to 25%, the liberty of academic collaborations with any of the top 500 global universities without UGC approval, full flexibility in deciding the curriculum and syllabus, financial assistance of ₹1000 crores over a period of five years, and the likes.

Why Jio?

There are two categories of institutions that are considered for this status – Brownfield and Greenfield Institutions. While in Brownfield institutions the work only happens on improving the existing conditions while a grounds-up development model approach is followed for Greenfield institutes. Under this model, work happens from scratch. That makes universities and colleges still in their planning stage eligible for the status.

But, the ministry was very strict with this provision.

A total of 11 applications were received under this category. The judging parameters for this included – the availability of land, a core team with ‘very high qualification and wide experience’, the available funding and a strategic vision plan with effective goals and milestones.

Among the 11 institutes, only Jio Institute fit into all the four parameters. Based on this selection they were handed a “letter of intent”. This letter of intent gives the institution three years’ time to establish itself, post which, it will be awarded the status. The Jio Institute is supposedly going to be built in Karjat, Raigadh district of Maharashtra.

The issuance of this status to Jio institute created an outcry questioning the credibility of the order. After the numerous surfacing questions and disagreements, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) issued clarifications substantiating their stand. According to their clarification, clause 6.1 of UGC (Institutions of Eminence Deemed to be Universities), clearly specifies and provides for a not yet established institute to apply for this status.

The Nita Ambani run foundation has planned the Jio Institute as a 9,500-crore investment. Earlier in the year at a media event in March 2018, Nita Ambani mentioned about the “plan” to establish a world-class University. “A university at the cutting edge of research and innovation. A university that focuses on education and sports, art and culture,” she said without giving a timeline for setting up of the institution. The university, will collaborate with the top universities around the world and prepare future generations to face the world, with knowledge and skills. A university from the gates of which will emerge our future leaders, our musicians, our scientists, and our Olympians. Building such a university is our dream at Reliance Foundation,” she said.

The recent awarding of IoE status is the first mention of this university post that media event.

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