Tamil Nadu minister for higher education KP Anbalagan said that the state government does not want the Institute of Eminence (IoE) tag for Anna University. His comment comes at a time when the state government and the university’s Vice Chancellor are at a tug of war over the IoE issue.
Speaking to reporters from Dharmapuri on Friday, the minister said that the union government has offered to confer the IoE status to the university. “The biggest problem in it is that the 69% reservation that is being followed, for which Puratchi Thalaivi Amma (former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa) fought during her time, will stand to be affected. There is also a chance that an entrance test for admission of students will be announced. Not just that, the fees also might increase...there are chances that more students from outside Tamil Nadu might be admitted, thus leading to our Tamil Nadu students losing out on their opportunities. Our government will not accept or agree to any of these,” he said.
Adding that the vice chancellors of the university are in charge only for three years contrary to the state government which has control of the university for ever, the minister said that the state government will strive to provide the best of education and research to the university’s students equivalent to what an IoE-tagged university will provide. “We (Anna University) are already ranking high in NIRF rankings… there is no need for an IoE tag to be given to us to rank better,” he added.
The demand to sack Anna University’s Vice Chancellor MK Surappa has been growing stronger the past few days, with many political leaders and education experts joining the chorus. Their major contention is that Surappa wrote directly to the union government, explaining that Anna University is capable of generating the funds required for the IoE tag internally and does not need a commitment from the government of Tamil Nadu.
“We (government of Tamil Nadu) have asked for an explanation (from MK Surappa) as to why he wrote about it directly to the union government,” the minister said.
The union government had demanded a letter of commitment from the government of Tamil Nadu to bear 50% of the Rs 1000 crore funds that the university would be entitled to receive if bestowed with the IoE tag. However, the state government had asked the union government to clarify whether the university will be allowed to follow the state’s reservation quota even after receiving the IoE tag. The government of Tamil Nadu had also formed a committee with five ministers to examine the matter.
The IoE tag is expected to grant the universities with more infusion of funds, greater autonomy, more research impetus and freedom in fixing fees and recruiting professors to the departments. In Tamil Nadu, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, Vellore Institute of Technology and Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham are the three other institutes of higher education that have been conferred the IoE tag. Anna University was the only public university in Tamil Nadu that was offered the IoE tag, provided the state government fulfilled certain conditions like bearing 50% of the funds to be infused into the university.