New Delhi: Controversial choice of Jio as ‘Institution of Eminence’ - HRD ministry answers

Daijiworld Media Network - New Delhi (SP)

New Delhi, Jul 11: After getting adverse comments and barbs for the perceived wrong selection of Jio Institute as 'Institution of Eminence', the human resources development (HRD) ministry of the union government furnished an explanation about how Jio Institute, which does not have any physical presence and infrastructure, was chosen to be one of the leading educational institutions in the country.

The central government has granted the status of 'Institute of Eminence' to six institutions it has found to be the ones which have the potential to become leading institutions in the entire world. Indian Institutes of Science Bengaluru, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences (BITS Pilani) and Manipal Academy of Higher Education happen to be the five of the institutions chosen by the government and broadly the people in general and academicians in particular have concurred with the government's choice as these institutions are being run efficiently and have a proven track record. However, there have been discordant voices and suspicion about the choice of Jio Institute, which has no existence as of now.

It is learnt that the government had received 74 applications from public sector and 40 from private sector for the above recognition. The government wants the chosen institutions to improve their global rankings and reach within 500th rankings within ten years and within the top 100 in future. This ambitious goal is set, although so far no university in India has been ranked within 100 best universities in the world.

There have been tweets by people who sneered at the choice of Jio. A professor of Indian Institute of Science Bengaluru wondered aloud in a tweet that how could Jio Institute score over many other institutions like Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Kharagpur etc. He questioned as to how can Jio, which is in the process of establishing its infrastructure and other facilities be considered as an institution of eminence. Tweets echoing similar sentiments totalling to lacs have been made by people about this decision.

Human Resources Development ministry, on Tuesday July 10, came out with an explanation about this decision on inclusion of Jio Institute, which does not have any physical infrastructure as at present. It said that Jio was given this status under Greenfield Project which aims at allowing responsible private investment to build global class educational infrastructure. Under this head, Jio scored high in the four parameters set for the institutions and came out with flying colours.

The parameters taken into consideration were availability of land for the construction of institution, having a core team with very high qualification and rich experience, making available funding for setting up of the institution, and strategic vision plan with clear annual milestone and action plan. The selection committee which examined the applications came to the conclusion that out of 11 applications, Jio Institute was the only one to satisfy all the four parameters and hence its name was recommended for the issuance of letter of intent towards setting up of institute of eminence.

The ministry explained that private educational institutions selected under the scheme will not get any funding from the government. This is as against the government's decision to extend financial assistance to public institutions selected under the scheme to the extent of up to Rs 1,000 crore during the next five years. This is in tune with the announcement made by the finance minister during the budget presentation in 2016 that the government wanted to help institutions imparting higher education to rise to world class teaching and research institutions. He had said that the government wants to make high quality education available to ordinary citizens at a reasonable cost.

The human resources development ministry issued a statement on Monday, stating that the selected institutions will be free to admit foreign students up to 30 percent of student vacancies and also to appoint foreign faculty up to 25 percent. The institutions are empowered to offer online courses up to 20 percent of courses run by them and enter into academic collaboration with top 500 global institutions without seeking permission from University Grants Commission. They are also empowered to fix fee to foreign students without any restrictions.

It is learnt that although the government had thought of upgrading ten public and ten private sector institutions under the said scheme, the committee of experts headed by former chief election commissioner, N Gopalaswamy, recommended only six institutions for this recognition.