All the jokes around Idea’s IIN degrees don’t seem so far fetched any more.
Something called Jio Institute, run by the Reliance Foundation, has just been declared an “Institute of Eminence” by the government of India. The other institutes that were included in the list are IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi, and IISc Bangalore, and BITS Pilani and Manipal University among private institutions. But unlike the other 5 institutes, which have a track record of providing high-quality education, Jio Institute doesn’t yet exist. HRD Minsiter Prakash Javadekar had to awkwardly even skip entering its Twitter handle while making the announcement.
Congratulations to @ManipalUni, @bitspilaniindia & Jio Inst for getting status of #InstituteofEminence. #TransformingEducation #48MonthsOfTransformingIndia@PIB_India @MIB_India pic.twitter.com/XpRsm8nxIQ
— Prakash Javadekar (@PrakashJavdekar) July 9, 2018
The “Institute of Eminence” tag is prestigious — the government had initially intended to brand 20 such universities with the honor, but only 6 made the cut, and several big-name institutions, such as Delhi University and the other IITs, weren’t included in the list. The IoE tag will grant special powers to these six institutes, including greater autonomy to start a new course, hire foreign faculty and collaborate with foreign institutes without government approval. The criterion for inclusion is that the institute needs to have the potential to find a place 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) in the first 10 years of being declared an Institute of Eminence.
It’s hard to imagine how Jio Institute will become break into the world top 500 rankings in the next 10 years when it doesn’t exist yet — even if it begins operations tomorrow, it’ll still have to wait another 3-4 years for its first batch to graduate. But the government says that it was selected from the list of greenfield institutions — new or proposed institutions that are yet to come into existence. According to officials, 11 such institutions had applied for the IoE tag and Jio was selected from among them.
“We have selected Jio Institute under the greenfield category, which is a category meant for new institutes; institutes that have no history,” former election commissioner N. Gopalaswami, who headed the panel to select the institutes told ThePrint. “We looked at the proposal and it turned out to be fit for the tag. They have a plan in place, they have funding, they have a place for a campus and everything that was required under the said category.”
If Reliance has applied for a license for an educational institution, one would presume that it’s serious about creating a world-class educational institution from India. Given all the other sectors Reliance is involved in, education could be a reasonable vertical to move into. A few years ago, Idea’s much-mocked IIN ads had first mooted the idea of an educational “institute” with the branding of a telecom company — Jio’s just gone ahead and created one.