New Delhi: Jadavpur University in Kolkata is likely to miss out on the 'Institute of Eminence' tag by the Ministry of Human Resources Development after the West Bengal government reportedly refused to commit Rs 2,000 crore for the development of the state university over a span of five years.
Under the scheme, the Central government told the university that a corpus fund of Rs 3,000 crore would be required for the university to get the ‘eminence’ tag, out of which the Centre would invest Rs 1,000 crore whereas the remaining amount must be contributed by the university.
The development came hours later after the West Bengal Governor, Jagdeep Dhankar, said that the prestigious university of West Bengal must get the Institute of Eminence tag.
A similar proposal was sent to another state university, Anna University in Tamil Nadu, where the Centre wanted a commitment of Rs 1,750 crore from the state government. However, the TN government has not yet said anything publicly about the commitment proposal. If the state government refuses to release the amount, Savitri Bai Phule University, Maharashtra and Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, are next in line for the tag.
The Institutes of Eminence, envisioned by the Centre, are expected to be ranked among the Top 100 universities of the world. The scheme also promises regulatory concessions in deciding matters related to fixing fee, recruiting foreign faculty or admitting foreign students.
Several teachers of the prestigious Jadavpur University, including its Vice Chancellor Suranjan Das, have expressed unhappiness over the vital changes introduced mid-way after the university applied for the tag. Nilanjana Gupta, a professor at Jadavpur University, told NewsClick that the tag was too expensive to afford for the university, which is already facing a financial crunch.
A similar criticism of the scheme comes from Tamil Nadu where several academicians feel that the character of Anna University may be compromised post-implementation. Prince Ganendra Babu, an educationist based in Tamil Nadu, told NewsClick that the impact of the tag on the university may result in tweaking of rules regarding reservation and regulatory framework.
“First of all, let me categorically say that I cannot buy eminence with Rs 2,000 crore. Anna University is already an educational organisation of international repute. It already has several programmes running in collaboration with many foreign universities. Instead, the scheme wants to transform the university into a self-financing project. The Central government has been collecting education cess since 2015. What happened to that fund? Why can’t they use the fund for developing state universities?”
Expressing apprehension over possible dilution of reservation norms, Babu said, “Anna University is state university where we have 69% reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Castes. A unique feature only applicable in Tamil Nadu. We still do not have clarity over these provisions of social justice.”
The professor said that by linking universities with ranking, the government was “basically pushing education into the market. We cannot apply western standards universally. For example, in universities in Germany and France, the research papers are published in their native languages. Even with these standards, those universities are ranked among top universities. Do our university students have this luxury?”
Babu cited the example of Finland, which was considered the best country for imparting education. “It was only state intervention that made it great. So, every country has its unique features to which their universities must serve," he added.
An Exclusionary Move?
The roots of the ‘eminence tag’ concept can be traced to Ivy league Universities in the US, which consist of seven premier private universities -- including Harvard, Stanford, Yale and Princeton. But a major demerit of these institutions is the expensive tuition fee amounting to thousands of dollars. Naturally, it attracts less number of students from the US.
Stanford University charges an average $ 52,000 tuition fee per student whereas the University of California, a state-funded University charges $41,000 tuition fee per student, a difference of $9,000 per annum. Interestingly, UCLA has a faculty strength of 1,844 whereas Stanford employs 1,603 teachers. Similarly, UCLA teaches 44,027 students whereas Stanford had only 17,537 students last year.
The Narendra Modi government wants its universities to be ranked among Top 100 in QS World Rankings and Times Higher Education Rankings like these ones. The financing of Ivy League universities is majorly sourced from corporate philanthropic funds, a path likely to be followed by Indian Institutes of Eminence, too. But how will students cope with expensive tuition fee in India? The answer, unfortunately, is not in sight as of now.
Also Read: Eminence Tag: Unfair to Ask Jadavpur, Anna Varsities for Crores in Lieu, Say Academics