Disappointed over denial of eminence tag: IIT-Madras to HRD

Chairman conveyed board’s concerns to Minister month after release of list

Written by Ritika Chopra | New Delhi | Updated: October 24, 2018 8:32:15 am
Disappointed over denial of eminence tag: IIT-Madras to HRD Was recommended for tag by UGC-mandated panel

IIT-Madras has written to Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar expressing “deep disappointment” at not being selected as one of India’s six Institutions of Eminence (IoEs) despite a recommendation from the UGC-mandated selection panel.

Industrialist and IIT-Madras chairman Pawan Goenka is learnt to have conveyed the concerns of the Board of Governors (BoG) to Javadekar almost a month after the IoE announcement was made on July 9.

The Empowered Expert Committee (EEC), which was entrusted by the UGC to find 20 IoEs out of 114 applicants, had recommended the names of 11 institutions for ‘eminence’ status. The Indian Institute of Science (IISc), IIT-Madras, IIT-Kharagpur, IIT-Bombay, IIT-Delhi, Delhi University, Jadavpur University and Anna University were recommended under the public category, in that order. BITS-Pilani, Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) and Reliance Foundation’s proposed Jio Institute were suggested under the private category.

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The UGC, however, forwarded just six names to the government on July 9 — three public and three private. According to the minutes of the UGC meeting, IISc, IIT-Bombay and IIT-Delhi were chosen based on their performance in the QS World University Rankings 2018.

In a veiled criticism of the Commission’s decision to ignore IIT-Madras’s bid, Goenka is learnt to have informed Javadekar that the BoG was surprised that the Commission used rankings by a commercial agency to select only three public institutions from the EEC list. The selection, he is learnt to have written, was neither based on the findings of the EEC nor the government’s own National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF).

IIT-Madras has been assessed as the country’s best engineering institute for three consecutive years by the NIRF. In the overall ranking across disciplines, it stood second in 2017 and 2018, behind IISc.

Goenka is learnt to have reiterated IIT-Madras’s NIRF performance in his letter to the Union Minister and described the UGC’s decision as “unfortunate”. The institute’s BoG, he wrote, is concerned that the decision could affect the morale of teachers and students.

Although there were rumours of public institutions, especially those whose names were not forwarded by the UGC, being unhappy about the selection procedure, IIT-Madras is the first among them to put its disappointment on record.

The selection of the non-existent Jio Institute as one of the six IoEs had triggered a political firestorm with the Opposition accusing the NDA government of favouritism.

Goenka did not respond to a request for comment. However, sources in IIT-Madras’s BoG confirmed that Board had discussed the issue in its meeting held on July 20 and expressed disappointment with the UGC decision. IIT-Madras director Bhaskar Ramamurthi did not respond to an emailed questionnaire sent by The Indian Express Tuesday.

The Union Cabinet approved UGC’s ‘Institutions of Eminence Deemed to be Universities Regulations 2017’, in August last year. The regulations are aimed at creating an enabling architecture for 10 public and 10 private institutions to emerge as world-class institutions.

The private IoEs can also come up as greenfield ventures, provided the sponsoring organisation submits a convincing perspective plan for 15 years.

The IoEs are proposed to have greater autonomy, including on deciding the fee, and course duration and structure. Their academic collaborations with foreign institutions will also be exempt from approvals. The 10 government institutions, in addition to autonomy, will also get Rs 1,000 crore each from the HRD Ministry.

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