Institutions of Eminence, mired in red tape

Source: The post is based on the article “Institutions of Eminence, mired in red tape” published in the Indian Express on 30th March 2023.

Syllabus: GS – 2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education.

Relevance: About challenges faced by the IOE scheme.

News: Even after six years, the Institutions of Eminence (IOE) scheme is yet to become the game changer as it was intended to be.

What is the Institutions of Eminence scheme?

Must read: Institution of Eminence Scheme

What are the challenges faced by the IOE scheme?

The government funds amounting to Rs 3,000 crore have helped eight public universities initiate ambitious reforms and set up state-of-the-art research infrastructure. But Private IOEs are facing many challenges.

The ethos of India’s higher education ecosystem: This is the biggest Achilles heel for the IOE scheme. The ethos of the higher education ecosystem is decidedly pre-NEP 2020.

The scheme aims to free regulatory intervention is facing regulatory challenges: For example, a) four private institutes which received government-empowered committee approval for the IOE tag have not yet got it, b) Four institutions which received the IOE tag, continue to face red tape from UGC on matters such as hiring foreign faculty and admitting foreign students.

The university regulator’s interventions have led to seats falling vacant in at least three private IOEs.

Defunct of the expert committee: The Empowered Expert Committee which was created to make UGC regulations more flexible for the IOEs has become defunct.

The mandate of the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI): The idea of university autonomy is now embedded in the higher education regulator proposed by the National Education Policy — the HECI. This yet-to-be-born agency is mandated to secure IOE-type autonomy for all universities, not just select institutes.

Not easy to enter the multidisciplinary arena: Institutions which want to enter various domains have to undergo regulations comprises agencies such as the National Medical Commission, Architecture Council of India and the Bar Council.

How India can ensure reforms in the higher education system?

The government has often affirmed its ambition to develop India as a knowledge economy. The move to open up the education sector by inviting foreign universities is part of this attempt. The performance of IOEs shows that much more needs to be done on this front.

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