NEW DELHI: An expert panel has hauled up Jio Institute, promoted by Reliance Industries LtdNSE -1.47 % (RIL), less than a year after it was declared an institution of eminence, for not adhering to agreed time frames for commitments such as setting up a campus and has given it a week to submit a detailed explanation for the delays.
The Empowered Expert Committee (EEC), in a review of all the six institutions of eminence, conveyed its displeasure to the Jio Institute team for various delays and for furnishing only sketchy information for the review.
“They said there were delays and assured they will expedite things,” EEC chairman N Gopalaswami told ET. “We have sought a report to be submitted within a week.”
Jio Institute’s vice chancellor elect Dipak Jain and adviser (education) Vinay Sheel Oberoi, a retired IAS officer and former secretary of higher education in the human resource development (HRD) ministry, were present at the review meeting held in New Delhi on April 29-30, said people aware of the matter.
ET’s emailed queries to RIL and the Jio Institute team did not elicit a response despite repeated reminders. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with which the Jio Institute is in advanced talks for a mentoring association, did not respond till press time either.
‘Status Not Final Yet’
Jio Institute was the only educational institution that had yet to be set up when it was accorded the institution of eminence status in July last year by the EEC set up by the central government, unlike the five others in the list, triggering a controversy over the parameters and the selection process.
At the review meeting, the Jio Institute team indicated to the EEC that it would be able to start its first academic session only in 2021-22, instead of 2020-21 as was originally proposed, said the people cited earlier.
“They now have about two and a half years to achieve all that they had committed to,” said EEC chairman Gopalaswami. “Remember, they have not yet formally got the ‘institution of eminence’ status. They have been issued a ‘letter of intent’ and only once they meet the agreed requirements for the institute, will the full status be given to them.”
He said the other institutions were also asked to submit notes on issues of concern pertaining to them that were raised at the review.
The Jio Institute team assured the EEC that it was committed to meeting the requirements of the institution of eminence status and that it was in advanced stages of negotiations with several US-based institutions.
However, the construction of campus for the proposed institution stands delayed. The Jio Institute team told the EEC at the review meeting that its main campus would now come up in Navi Mumbai instead of Karjat in Maharashtra as envisaged earlier.
ET was the first to report, on December 31, 2018, that RIL was unable to get permissions to build the campus in Karjat as it had originally planned since the site lay in an eco-sensitive zone where construction activity is restricted.
However, a person with knowledge of the matter told ET that the required permissions for changing land use to allow an institute to come up at the Navi Mumbai land had also yet to come through.
RIL had told the EEC last year that it would “finalise design for campus construction” and also effect “construction commencement on the site” between January-June 2019. In the same period, it had committed to “finalisation of academic partners” and setting up of a “global advisory council”.
At the recent review meeting, however, RIL told the EEC that it had shortlisted campus development agencies and was finalising a “comprehensive partnership with a leading US university”. It said that it would revise its master plan for the campus between April-September 2019 and bring a team on board.
ISSUES FACING OTHER INSTITUTIONS
EEC chairman Gopalaswami said that several issues were raised by the six institutions of eminence at the review meet. Manipal Academy of Higher Education, for instance, sought clarity on the ease of operations expected of these institutions.
The EEC is likely to ask for scheduling of a meeting with the HRD ministry to iron out some of the issues raised.
State-run institutions, on the other hand, pointed to the 10% quota for economically weaker sections that they are expected to implement from this academic year and how it may affect their deadlines, achievements and commitments on teacher-student ratio, among other aspects, this year.
Besides Jio and Manipal, BITS Pilani — among private sector institutions — was granted the institution of eminence status while those from the public sector were IITBombay, IIT-Delhi and IISc, Bengaluru. The exercise was aimed at identifying and encouraging institutions that had the potential to rank among the world’s top 500 within 10 years.