FLAME in the news | December 07, 2018

NEW DELHI: Months after its decision to accord the Institute of Eminence status to half a dozen educational institutions, including to Reliance Foundation’s proposed Jio University that triggered a controversy, the Centre is preparing to announce up to 14 more institutes that will be bestowed the high-value status, people in the know told ET.

The announcement will be made as soon as voting is over in the Rajasthan and Telangana assembly elections on Friday, so that the names can then be taken up at the December 10 meeting of the University Grants Commission (UGC) for approval, they indicated.

Among the prominent institutes in the fray in the private category is another greenfield institute like Jio University, KREA University, which has former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan as its advisor and the likes of Kiran Mazumdar- Shaw, Anand Mahindra, Sajjan Jindal, Anu Aga, Cyril Shroff and Manjul Bhargava on the governing board.

Other institutions said to be under consideration are Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Vellore Institute of Technology and Kalinga Institute of Technology.

As far as public, or government funded, institutes are concerned, the Empowered Expert Committee (EEC) mandated to select 20 Institutes of Eminence had originally shortlisted eight. While three of those — IIT-Bombay, IIT-Delhi and IISc-Bangalore — were on the first list announced in July, the remaining five — IIT-Madras, Delhi University, Jadavapur University, IIT-Kharagpur and Anna University — are likely to make the cut now.

Indian Institute for Human Settlements-Bangalore and Indian Institute of Public Health-Gandhinagar are also said to be prime candidates, sources indicated.

When contacted, EEC chairperson N Gopalaswami confirmed to ET that meetings were being held to select more institutes as was resolved in the July UGC meeting. The EEC was tasked with selecting 10 institutes each in the public and private categories for the status. “The process is underway. As of Thursday, we have not submitted our final report,” Gopalaswami told ET.

The EEC is learnt to have held at least two meetings in mid-November and again on December 3 and 5 to finalise the list.

While the government announced in the 2016 budget that it would establish 20 Institutes of Eminence, it had to go with just six after the high-powered selection panel could not find many institutes eligible enough, especially in the private category.

At the time, it announced only six names — the IITs in Mumbai and Delhi and IISc in the public sector and BITS Pilani and Manipal University along with Jio University in the private space.

Since the EEC had maintained then that the rest did not meet the parameters for the status, the new lot of institutes is likely to be put through considerable scrutiny.

As many as 114 institutes had originally applied for the Institute of Eminence status, including central universities, IITs and NITs, IIMs, IISERs, state and private universities, beside the likes of Indian Statistical Institute, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

Top companies in the fray for the private institutes category, along with Reliance, were Bharti Airtel for Bharti University (Satya Bharti Foundation) in Delhi, Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta for a proposed Vedanta University in Odisha and KREA University. Others included Indian School of Business-Hyderabad, Indus Tech University, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management & Studies, Shiv Nadar University, OP Jindal University, FLAME University, Ashoka University and Azim Premji University.