After facing flak for listing Jio Institute by Reliance Foundation among the six Institutions of Eminence (IoEs) in India, the government called the controversy a result of ‘some misinformation campaign’ in social media.
On the criticism that how can an institute which has not even been set up feature on the list, the government has clarified that under the rules, a proposal to establish an institution can also be considered. However, such an institution needs to be set up within three years after the Ministry issues a Letter of Intent to the sponsoring organisation.
“Under clause 6.1 of the UGC (Institutions of Eminence Deemed to be Universities) Regulation 2017, provides for a completely new proposal to establish an institution to be considered under this project. Accordingly, a separate category of applications have been invited from the sponsoring organisations for setting up new or Greenfield projects. The purpose of this provision is to allow responsible private investment to come into building global class educational infrastructure, thereby benefiting the nation as a whole,” the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said.
Specifying the goals for setting up Greenfield institutions, the government said: “Totally (11) such applications have been received and has been assessed by the Empowered Expert Committee (EEC) . EEC has informed that they have taken the following parameters into account for judging the applications received for setting up Greenfield institutions:- a) Availability of land for construction of the institution. b) Putting in place a core team with very high qualification and wide experience. c) Making available funding for setting up the institution. d) A strategic vision plan with clear annual milestones and action plan.
However, out of the 11 institutes, the government said that the Committee found that only the Jio Institute has satisfied all the 4 parameters stated above, and hence has been recommended for issuing a Letter of intent for setting up an Institute of Eminence.
After three years, if the institute is able to prove its readiness and is certified by the EEC, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoA) with a clear roadmap for the development of the institution will be signed by the institution and a notification would be issued declaring the institution as IoE.
One of the main recommendations of the EEC states that the private sector should be encouraged to participate in furthering of higher education subject to the institutions having financial sustainability, independent governance, revenue diversification and research excellence.
The UGC also defended Jio Institute’s inclusion on the grounds that it was selected under rules for greenfield institutions. Greenfield projects are those projects which start from the scratch and are not modifying or upgrading any already established projects. The latter are called brownfield projects.
According to a proposal submitted by the firm to the committee, the JIO Institute will use Rs 9,500 crore in capital expenditure and will be located in a ‘fully residential university city’ in Pune.
The government had on Monday announced a list of six shortlisted Institutions of Eminence (IoEs) including 3 from Public Sector and 3 from Private Sector. From the public sector, the institutes are: (i) Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Karnataka; (ii) Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, Maharashtra; and (iii) Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. From the private sector, the institutes are: (i) Jio Institute (Reliance Foundation), Pune under Green Field Category; (ii) Birla Institute of Technology & Sciences, Pilani, Rajasthan; and (iii) Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, Karnataka.
The HRD Ministry’s selection of the yet-to-be-established Jio Institute had drawn sharp criticism from various quarters with people questioning the process of selection and the motive behind it. “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. This was not just a one-off comment but a sentiment shared by many on social media after the announcement was made by the HRD Ministry.