The HRD Ministry today granted “Institutions of Eminence” status to three public and three private institutes, enabling them to get full autonomy and special incentives to project them as “world class universities”. While the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry will grant Rs 1,000 crore funds to the three public institutions in the next five years, the private institutes will not be eligible for government funding.

The government granted “Institutions of Eminence” (IoEs) status to IIT-Delhi, IIT-Bombay and the Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in the public sector, and Manipal Academy of Higher Education, BITS Pilani and Jio Institute by Reliance Foundation in the private sector. The move is part of a scheme of the HRD Ministry to select 20 IoEs — 10 public and 10 private — that will enjoy complete academic and administrative autonomy.

However, the Empowered Expert Committee (EEC) headed by former chief election commissioner N Gopalaswami picked six institutions that, according to the panel, showed the potential to find a place among top 500 of global rankings. Unlike other institutions, IoEs will get greater autonomy to start new courses, admit foreign students, hire foreign faculty, and collaborate with foreign educational institutions without the need for government approval.

“The #InstituteofEminence are important for the country. We have 800 univ, but not a single university in top 100 or even 200 in the world ranking. Today’s decision will help achieve this. Improving ranking needs sustained planning, complete freedom & public institutes getting public funding (sic),” Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar tweeted. “This decision is a landmark decision for following reasons -This was never thought off & tried; it is more than a graded autonomy, it is really a full autonomy to the institutes; the institutes can take their own decisions (sic),” he added.

The HRD Minister said today’s decision gave virtually full autonomy to the institutions. It will also ensure that no student will be denied opportunity of education through various measures such as scholarships, interest waiver and fee waiver, he added. “This will facilitate them to grow more rapidly and at the same time they will get more opportunity to scale up their operations with more skills and quality improvement so that they become world class Institutes,” he added. As many as 114 institutes had applied for the tag. These include 11 central universities, 27 ‘institutes of national importance’, top IITs and NITs, 27 state universities, 10 private universities, and four greenfield institutes.

Top corporates were also competing for the private institutes category with the Reliance Group applying for the Reliance Foundation Institution & Research in Maharshtra, Airtel for Bharti University (Satya Bharti Foundation) in Delhi, and Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta University in Odisha. KREA University which has former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan as its advisor, Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, Indus Tech University in Delhi and Acharya Institutes of Bangalore were among other applicants.