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HRD ministry panel wants Institutes of Eminence to get Rs 1,000 crore to boost research

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Empowered expert committee says fund should be above general research pool grant and be available to institutions based on their performance.

New Delhi: An empowered expert committee (EEC) headed by former chief election commissioner N Gopalaswami, set up in February this year by the Union government to select ‘Institutes of Eminence’, has called for the creation of a special Rs 1,000 crore fund that can be accessed by the faculty and students of these educational institutions to bolster a culture of research and publication.

The panel has also asked for “leaner and efficient” managements of educational institutions and described existing governance structures as a “dampener to better performance”, according to a government official familiar with the matter.

In its second report presented to the Union human resource development (HRD) ministry and the University Grants Commission (UGC) earlier this month, the four-member panel said it has already mooted the idea of a central research grant fund, the officials added.

“The EEC now proposes the creation of a special fund, say of Rs 1,000 crore to begin with, to which all the selected educational institutions and their faculty can have access so that the culture of research and publication becomes stronger which is essential if these institutions have to move up the rankings ladder,” the committee has said in its report, one of the officials cited above said on condition of anonymity.

A second government official, who asked not to be named, said that the committee has said the fund should be above the general research pool grant or already existing funds for research, and should be available to institutions based on their performance as ‘Institutes of Eminence’.

The second official added that the panel said this would create a healthy competition between institutions, not only to maintain and improve their scores but also get better international recognition.

The Gopalaswami committee was formed by the Narendra Modi government to identify institutions which have the potential to figure in the top 500 of global educational rankings. Research is a key factor considered when global rankings by agencies such as QS and Times are computed.

Earlier this month, the committee submitted its second report, taking the institutions it has recommended for the IoE status up to 30.

Fifteen of these are in the private sector, including the Raghuram Rajan backed KREA University, Shiv Nadar University in Greater Noida, Jamia Hamdard in New Delhi, and VIT, Vellore. Another 15, such as Delhi University, Jadavpur University, BHU Varanasi and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), and IIT-Delhi, are in the public sector.

Also read: Institutes of Eminence tag starts fight between Modi govt panel and HRD ministry

The Gopalaswami committee has also stressed that “heavy governance structures” of Indian educational institutions need to be replaced by leaner and efficient mechanisms so that institutions can have more time and energy to focus on gaining and disseminating knowledge.

UGC is likely to examine the report of the panel in a meeting in January, said the second official.

“Funds for research are without question a positive and good idea. It is important as research is a key factor as to where an institution stands globally. However, another aspect is that there should be mechanisms that allow more dedicated funds for research across all institutions,” said former UGC member Inder Mohan Kapahy.

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