Land and building alone can''t make institutions of eminence. It takes years of effort and excellence to make a mark
Human Resource Development Ministry in a recent order granted the Institution of Eminence to six higher education institutions both from the public and the private sector. Public institutions on which this tag was conferred are IIT Delhi, IIT Bombay and IISC Bangalore. Though surprisingly an institution like JNU which has time and again proved its mettle while topping the National Rankings, one of the criteria for making it to the list of institution of eminence, and even withstanding the controversies, has not made it to the list. From private sector the Manipal Academy of Higher Education, BITS Pilani and yet to be established JIO institute had made to the list of eminence. The total applications for the institution of eminence were 114, out of these 74 were public ad 40 private institutions. Each public institution selected as an institution of eminence will get financial assistance up to Rs 1000 crore over a period of five years. This decision of granting eminence status to these institutions as for government is to help the selected institutions to become world-class educational institutions.
The idea is to ensure that the complete autonomy of selected institutions will be provided which will facilitate them to grow more rapidly. Government is expecting that these institutions will come up in the top 500 of the world ranking in 10 years and in top 100 of the world ranking eventually over time. For the selection of institution of eminence, an Empowered Expert Committee (EEC) with N. Gopalaswami as Chairman had been constituted. Though the intention of the establishment should not be doubted but the fact of the matter is that even if all the six institutions which had made it to the institution of eminence scheme of Ministry of Human Resource Development make it to the top 500 institutions of the world, which in all probability is not possible, still then, will it make any difference on the ground? The straight and simple answer is `no’. Why, because, more than 90% of our student’s study in undergraduate colleges and state universities. How does it matter if 5000 odd students get a quality education in the world-class institutions when millions of students studying in different institutions of high learning are getting a miserably low-quality education?
There is a need of providing affordable quality education to all irrespective of whether they can afford it or not. For that to happen state institutions like undergraduate colleges and state universities need be upgraded and upscaled in terms of quality teachers and world-class infrastructure apart from many other parameters. By creating a couple of world-class institutions for the country having more a billion population could help grab the international headlines but it will in no way provide quality education to most of the students.
The autonomy which government is talking for these selected institutions is a great idea but isn’t it necessary that all institutions of higher learning need a complete autonomy. Although, this is one-way government will be able to give space to flourish and generate ideas in an institution of higher learning, but It must be understood that why should not be any institution of higher learning autonomous in any way.
Among the private institutions selected for the Institution of Eminence tag JIO institute of reliance foundation has surprised one and all, and rightly so. How can any institution be granted institution of eminence status when it does not have its own campus, zero research output and not even an official website? We believe that institutions do not become eminent simply by declaring them so. It needs years of hard work, quality research and dedicated teachers to become eminent. Simply having land and money which occurs important, does not guarantee that one will end up creating the world-class institution. This is exactly the same thing that child is not yet to born and we have declared him the Einstein of the future.
The Empowered Expert Committee constituted for the said purpose needs to be transparent about the criteria of selection of an institution as an institution of eminence otherwise doubts will be created in the minds of people which will not be good for any institution because the perception about the institution is very important for any institutional ranking.
(The author is Assistant Professor (Education), Government Degree College Ganderbal, Kashmir. Views are personal.)