Reliance proposals include Rs 9,500-crore investment, global faculty, an institute with 10 schools and over 50 disciplines among others.
New Delhi: The chief of the government panel that drew up the list of ‘Institutes of Eminence’ has defended picking Reliance Foundation’s Jio, saying it had a better plan than several established universities such as Ashoka, OP Jindal and Shiv Nadar.
The slew of proposals submitted by Jio Institute includes creating a global network of prominent thought leaders, having leading academicians on its board and hiring faculty from top 500 institutions of the world, among others.
The promoter has also proposed to invest Rs 9,500 crore in establishing the university.
“It is not just Rs 9,500 crore that the promoter has proposed to invest in the university which got it the Institute of Eminence (IoE) tag, it was the overall proposal,” said former chief election commissioner N. Gopalaswami, who headed the panel to choose IoEs.
Without naming any institution, he said that no other institute in the same category had such a clear plan other than Jio’s.
Jio has been granted the IoE tag under the ‘greenfield’ category, meant for institutions that are yet to be established. Airtel’s Bharti University, a university in Odisha planned by Vedanta and KREA university in Sri City near Chennai, being promoted by a group of corporate leaders, were other contenders under greenfield category.
“Most institutions that applied under the greenfield category only talked about financial projections. They did not have a clear academic plan, like Jio Institute did,” said Gopalaswami.
“It is not for nothing that we have selected the institute and rejected others,” he said.
What Jio proposed
In its plan to the UGC, Reliance had mentioned its relationship top 50 global universities. It also mentioned Dhirubhai Ambani International School as its success story in the field of education.
It proposed to create a multi-disciplinary institute from the start with 10 schools and more than 50 disciplines, including humanities, engineering, medical sciences, sports, law, performing arts, sciences, urban planning, among others.
Reliance plans to establish a fully residential university with accommodation facilities for faculty and their families as well as spousal employment opportunities, something that is missing in new institutions.
Many new IIMs and IITs are not able to attract good faculty because of lack of spousal employment opportunities.
‘Focus on overall plan’
Jio Institute has been selected over established institutes such as Ashoka, OP Jindal, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Shiv Nadav and Azim Premji University among others.
“We did not only look at the money that Reliance is going to invest, we looked at the overall plan and the proposal in its totality, covering all the issues like the funding, what plan they are going to have,” Gopalaswami said.
“If they had said that Rs 1,000 crore will go into putting up a statue of Dhirubhai Ambai or another Rs 1000 crore will go into advertising, we would not have picked it,” he added.
Gopalaswami also expressed concerns over the state of academic institutions — both private and public — in the country.
“So many public institutions that are not even near the 100 ranking in NIRF (National Institutional Ranking Framework) applied with us, just for money,” he said.
“Most IITs, for example, the new ones that have come up in the past 10 years and are struggling even with their staff applied with us, in the hope of more money, autonomy, etc,” said Gopalswami.