non-existent Jio University being granted a ‘University of Eminence’ tag by the HRD ministry has brought the spotlight on the assessment criteria of the government for awarding this prestigious tag to higher education institutes.
However, for understanding the goof-up behind the reliance foundation proposed institute landing up on the list along with IIT Bombay and BITS Pilani, we must first understand what exactly is a University of Eminence.
In 2017, the University Grants Commission (UGC) started inviting applications from universities who conformed to the set of guidelines provided by them in order to be granted the eminence tag.
The need for creating a separate category of universities which will be regulated differently from other universities came about because of the fact that last year none of the Indian universities were placed in World University Rankings.
The objective behind the tag of eminence was to give 20 universities (10 public and 10 private), wide-ranging autonomy by the government in administrative and financial matters so that they can emerge as world-class universities over a reasonable period of time and be ranked among the top 500 of any of the world-renowned ranking frameworks in the first 10 years of being declared Institute of eminence.
The government universities would be further given financial assistance to the amount of Rs 1000 crore for fulfilling the said objectives.
The special status comes with high expectations
Some of the expectations that a University of Eminence should satisfy within a reasonable time, as provided in the UGC (Declaration of Government Educational lnstitutions as lnstitutions of Eminence) Guidelines, 2017 are:
- lt should preferably be multi-disciplinary and have both teaching and research focus of an exceptionally high quality
- There should be a reasonably good mix of domestic and foreign students.
- lt should have a good proportion of foreign or foreign qualified faculty.
- It should have student amenities comparable with that of globally reputed institutions
- The institution should have reasonably large owned campus with adequate space for expansion.
- lt should come in the top 500 of any of the world-renowned ranking frameworks (such as the Times Higher Education world University Rankings or QS or, Shanghai’s Jiao Tong University) in in the first ten years of setting up on being declared as lnstitution of Eminence, and having achieved top five hundred rank, should consistently improve its ranking to come in the top one hundred eventually over time
Which institutes were eligible for applying for IOE tag?
The plan was to select a good mix of central universities as well as arts, management and technical institutes.
- The Top 50 in the National institution Ranking Framework in their category under the latest National lnstitution Ranking Framework.
- Top 500 in internationally recognised rankings like the Times Higher Education World University Rankings or QQS or SJTU (Shanghai’s Jiao Tong University) would also be eligible for inclusion in the programme.
Public institutes eligible to apply to be ‘Institutes of Eminence’:
- Central Universities
- Government-owned and controlled deemed universities
- lnstitute of National importance such as IITs, NITs etc.
- State universities set up under a law made by legislative assembly of a state
Attributes of IOEs that will separate them from other universities:
- The institutes will be free from most UGC regulations which are binding on other universities, except for some flexible guidelines
- They will not have to adhere to UGC mandated curriculum and would be free to fix their own curriculum and syllabus
- They would be able to admit 30 per cent of foreign students on merit and deciding the fee charged from foreign students will also be their prerogative
- They can recruit foreign faculty upto 25 per cent of its faculty strength
- They will have the flexibility of course structure in terms of number of credit hours and years to take a degree, after approval of their Governing Council and broadly conforming to the minimum prevailing standards
- They shall be free to enter into academic collaborations with other institutions of India
However, all these facilities will be subject to the University of Eminence meeting the goal of becoming an institution of global repute at the end of fifth and subsequent years failing which they could be penalized by the Empowered Expert Committee to the extent of revoking their eminence tag and reverting them back to their original status.