The latest development is that the government of Tamil Nadu has written to the UGC refusing the IoE status to Anna University.

TNM Explainer: Anna University and the row over Institute of Eminence statusWiki Commons/Srinath1905 (CCBYSA 3.0)
news Education Tuesday, November 03, 2020 - 16:49

Months after the University Grants Commission (UGC) of India offered to grant the Institute of Eminence (IoE) status to Tamil Nadu’s Anna University, the state government has recently refused it. As per reports, the government of Tamil Nadu has written to the union government refusing the IoE status for Anna University.

The tug of war between the union government and the state government over the proposed IoE status has been on for many months now. The UGC’s offer has been standing since 2018 and there have been a few exchanges between the state government and the union government regarding the modalities.

What is the IoE status all about?

It is a certification provided by the UGC to higher educational institutes which will provide greater autonomy to the institutes in terms of academics and administration. The UGC will provide a grant of Rs 1000 crore over five years to public universities that are given the IoE status. Private universities, however, will not be given any funding. 

What will likely happen to Anna University if it gets the IoE tag?

The IoE status will likely provide an upward push to the University’s research capabilities. The Rs 1000-crore funding over a five-year period is also expected to provide the university with greater autonomy over faculty recruitment, admissions and fee structure.

What were the state government’s concerns?

One of the major concerns of the government of Tamil Nadu around the IoE status for Anna University was whether the university will be allowed to maintain the existing reservation policy while admitting students in the future. Tamil Nadu currently follows a 69% reservation policy for admission of students into public universities. The state government had also written to the union government seeking clarity and assurance over this.

Did the union government reply?

Yes. The union government stated that even after the IoE status, the university can continue with its existing reservation policy.

However, not completely satisfied with the response, the state government formed a committee with five ministers and a few senior officers to study the feasibility of the university receiving the IoE status and the bifurcation of the university into Anna University and Anna Institute of Eminence.

What happened then?

The UGC asked the state government to send them a letter of commitment to bear 50% of the Rs 1000 crore funds which will be infused in the university over a five year period. The remaining 50% will be borne by the union government.

How did the Vice Chancellor get caught in the crossfire?

MK Surappa allegedly wrote to the union government in June assuring them that the university has the capacity to generate around Rs 1500 crore internally over five years and hence does not need the support of the government of Tamil Nadu for funds.

This act by the Vice Chancellor of writing directly to the union government ruffled feathers in the state with many demanding that he be sacked from his post. The state government also sought an explanation from him for his action.

What is the state government’s stance now? 

A few weeks ago, the state minister for higher education told the media that the government of Tamil Nadu is not too keen on the IoE status for Anna University. He said that the university already ranks high in the National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF) ranking and whatever development an IoE tag can bring, the state government will strive to bring it to the university. The minister also mentioned that the lack of clarity on the 69% reservation quota and the possibility of an entrance exam to admit students led to the state government lose interest in the offer. 

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