The IITs Madras and Kharagpur, Delhi University, University of Hyderabad, Amritha Vishwa Vidyapeetham and VIT are among the 20 institutions recommended for the grant of the Institute of Eminence status by the University Grants Commission on Friday.
However, the UGC denied the tag to five private universities — Azim Premji University, Ashoka University, KREA University, Indian Institute for Human Settlements and the Indian Institute of Public Health — on the grounds that they have not been placed in any global or national rankings. Since their exclusion left a vacant slot on the list of private universities given the tag, the Satya Bharti Foundation — telecom major Airtel’s philanthropic arm — became the second greenfield institution to be given IoE status, after Jio Institute which is backed by the Reliance Foundation.
“We considered two types [of institutions], those who are already ranked well and those which are potential institutions. We might have felt something has potential, but government may feel something else, they may have felt that if an institution is not ranked at all, it cannot be considered. It is entirely justified,” said N. Gopalaswami, former Chief Election Commissioner who headed the expert panel which initially identified the list of IoEs. He told The Hindu, “Greenfield institutions should not have been included in the category of private institutions at all. It should have been a separate category. But having been included, it was fair to consider them differently, without looking at rankings.”
The Institute of Eminence scheme aimed at developing 20 world-class institutions which would put India on the global education map. Those selected will be given greater autonomy and freedom to decide fees, course durations and governance structures. The public institutions will also receive a government grant of ₹1,000 crore, while the private institutions will not get any funding under the scheme.
The Gopalaswami panel initially recommended 11 institutions for the tag in July 2018. The Centre had then accepted six recommendations — IITs Delhi and Bombay, IISc Bangalore, BITS Pilani, Manipal University, and the yet-to-open Jio University. In December, the committee recommended 19 more names and asked the UGC to consider all 30 for the tag.
However, following the Ministry of Human Resource Development’s decision to limit the scheme to the original 20 institutions — 10 private and 10 public — the UGC was forced to prune the list at its meeting on Friday. It chose to use the criterion of the QS-2020 world rankings, with the QS-2019 India rankings and NIRF rankings used as a tie-breaker. Any institution that did not figure in any rankings was excluded completely.
“The first purpose of the IoE scheme is to take existing universities to global competitive status, and so we must consider their existing rankings. The other purpose is the need to get investment to build up world class institutions, hence the greenfield institutions on the list. Those left out are neither here nor there; they fall into a gap between the two categories,” explained a senior official of the Ministry.
Five public universities also did not make the cut. Tezpur, Panjab and Andhra Universities were left out as they are not ranked. Savitribai Phule Pune University and Aligarh Muslim University are both in the same 801-1,000 ranking slab in the QS World rankings as the Benares Hindu University; however, BHU squeaked through as it was higher placed than the other two in the India rankings.
Anna University and Jadavpur University have been given the IoE tag on a conditional basis as they are state universities, and will be finalised only after the Tamil Nadu and West Bengal governments issue an official communication allocating their share of funds (up to 50%).
The other institutions which have been recommended for IoE status are Jamia Hamdard, Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology, OP Jindal University and Shiv Nadar University.
The UGC’s recommendations will now be submitted to the Ministry for final grant of the status.