New Delhi: The Union government on Tuesday said it might withdraw the “institute of eminence" (IoE) status for the proposed Reliance Foundation-promoted Jio Institute, if it fails to measure up within three years.
The announcement comes a day after the centre was criticized for granting the coveted status to a yet-to-be-established institution, alongside renowned centres of excellence such as the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, IIT Bombay and IIT Delhi.
“If they (Reliance Foundation) are able to establish themselves in three years and meet the expectations of the expert committee, then they will get the IoE status. However, the expert panel will have the authority to withdraw the tag if the institution is not found to be performing up to the mark," said higher education secretary R. Subrahmanyam.
“It was selected in the greenfield category... a letter of intent was given to Jio Institute based on their proposal," Subrahmanyam said. “The committee after due diligence... looking at their vision statement and their ability to mobilize land, building a core team…(decided) that there was only one institution, which was eligible."
“The committee comprises people with impeccable integrity... we are respecting their judgement," the secretary said. He said that Reliance Foundation had already acquired 800 acres near Navi Mumbai for the proposed university.
Reliance Industries, which has presence in oil and gas, textiles, telecom and retail, had announced its ambitious foray into the higher education space, with an investment of ₹ 9,500 crore for the proposed Jio Institute.
In its presentation before the ministry, Reliance Foundation told the human resource development (HRD) ministry that the proposed university wants to have a sizeable presence in humanities, engineering, medical sciences, sports, law, performing arts, sciences and urban planning, through 10 schools and 50 disciplines. According to the proposal, it would also facilitate research in collaboration with top global universities, offer a start-up research package and have faculty from 500 global universities, Mint reported on Monday.
An email query sent to Reliance Foundation on Monday seeking further details on the proposed university remained unanswered.
The clarification from the HRD ministry was in response to the severe criticism from political parties, the academia and intellectuals for selecting Jio Institute ahead of several others. Besides, the Congress, former finance minister Yashwant Sinha, activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan and writer-historian Ramchandra Guha criticized the decision.
Guha, in a tweet, termed the selection of Jio as “preferential treatment". “Particularly when several first-rate private universities have been bypassed. Are they being punished for the brilliance and independence of mind of their scholars," he asked.