Rs 1-cr entry fee for UGC's 'eminence' tag irks institutes

Rs 1-cr entry fee for UGC's 'eminence' tag irks institutes

The University Grants Commission's (UGC) decision to levy an application fee of Rs 1 crore for seeking the 'Institution of Eminence' (IoE) tag has raised concerns among some of the universities and institutions that are in the process of formulating their proposals.

The UGC recently announced that along with the ranking/grading, the 20 institutions selected for IoE, will also receive a financial assistance of up to Rs 1,000 crore.

However, the UGC has said that it will refund only Rs 75 lakh out of Rs 1 crore, to those institutions that are not selected for IoE.

M R Seetharam, Director of M S Ramaiah Institute of Technology (MSRIT), who also happens to be the Science and Technology minister termed it as an "unfair" practice by the UGC.

"It is definitely not fair for the UGC to collect such a hefty deposit. It hasn't even clarified what it will be doing with the money that is being collected, and also why only Rs 75 lakh is being refunded. The UGC will end up collecting a huge fund from the rejected institutions, as thousands of them will be applying. The money collected might be deposited in banks to accrue interest. The Centre has stopped issuing grants to institutions, I suspect that MHRD will do something with the interest amount. They might use the same money to issue grants to institutions," he said.

Seetharam said that MSRIT was applying for IoE, despite the reservations. "MHRD used to do the grading and give the status. I suppose they are stopping it now. People will look forward for grading while applying to institutions. MSRIT is on the top, and we want to maintain it. For that limited purpose, we are applying," he added.

Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bengaluru, which is ranked 11 in the overall ranking of National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) ranking 2017, too seems perturbed by the prescribed fee amount. Sources said that it might deter the institution from applying for the IoE.

However, not all institutions are concerned about the deposit amount. Indian Institute of Science (IISc) director Prof Anurag Kumar said his institution had no reservations about depositing the application fee. "IISc stands a good chance at the IoE because of our good ranking both nationally and internationally. I can't comment on the fee amount. The UGC probably wants to limit the applications to only serious contenders," he added.

Prof Kumar said that IISc was in the process of formulating its proposal, and was hoping to obtain the "maximum" amount from the UGC.

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