MoU pending, Jio Institute’s plan to start functioning this yr hangs in balance


Three years after being declared as an ‘Institute of Eminence’ by the government, Reliance foundation’s proposed multidisciplinary Jio Institute is unlikely to become functional this academic session either.

Education ministry officials in the know said this is because the prerequisite process of signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the government and the institute is still pending as the empowered expert committee (EEC), which was authorised to facilitate the process, has lapsed.

The Institute of Eminence (IoE) scheme was launched by the government in 2017 with an aim to enable Indian higher education institutions to enter the global rankings. The IoE tag provides greater autonomy to the institutes and the government also provides funding to the public institutes under this initiative. The Centre has awarded the status to 20 institutes including the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in Delhi, Bengaluru, and Madras.

The Jio Institute was awarded the IoE status in 2018 under the ‘greenfield category’– for institutes yet to be established. Following criticism over its inclusion in the list, the Centre had clarified that such institutes will be given a letter of intent that would give them time to establish before signing an MoU with the government. Jio was to submit a readiness report by July 2021.

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In June, Reliance foundation chairperson Nita Ambani announced during their 44th AGM that the institute will commence academic session this year. However, officials at the ministry of education said it is “unlikely”. “Even as the Jio Institute submitted its readiness report in December last year and the field visits to its campus in Navi Mumbai were also completed in January this year, the MoU signing process was halted as the three-year duration of the empowered committee lapsed the next month. The process of formation of a new committee got delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation. It is still underway,” said a senior official.

“The institute has also submitted the MoU. Once the new committee is formed, it will examine the MoU and compare it with the proposal initially submitted before it is signed. It looks unlikely that the institute will be able to start functioning from this academic session which is set to begin from November 1,” the official said.

Chairperson of the former empowered committee N Gopalaswami also confirmed that the clearance process of Jio was pending when the committee lapsed in February.

Another member of the committee, who wished not to be named, said, “The clearance of some other institutes is also pending but all of them are established and functional. New institutes like that of Jio cannot start functioning before final clearance from the expert committee and signing of the MoU.”

Despite several attempts, Jio institute spokesperson did not respond to emails seeking a comment. However, officials working with the institute are familiar with the situation. “The institute was ready to start functioning from this month itself. But nothing can be moved without signing the MoU. It’s a wait and watch situation for us. We are hoping that the government promptly constitutes the new committee,” said an official who wished not to be named.

The official website of the institute mentions only two courses — Masters in digital marketing and marketing communication and Masters in artificial intelligence and data science– in its academic section. However, it does not elaborate on the admission modalities and dates for the commencement of the process as yet.

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