The Ministry of Human Resources Development on Tuesday started the procedure to notify the Institution of Eminence tag for five of the six institutions it had initially selected. Birla Institute of Technology and Science has been temporarily excluded from the list that includes Manipal Academy of Higher Education and Reliance Foundation’s proposed Jio Institute in the private institution category, The Indian Express reported.

On July 9, the government had granted the Institution of Eminence status to three public and three private educational institutions in India. Public institutions with this tag will get special funding of Rs 1,000 crore over the next five years. The tag makes private institutions eligible for academic and administrative autonomy.

Unidentified ministry officials told the newspaper that BITS would be eligible for the tag only when its branches in Goa and Hyderabad are regularised by the University Grants Commission. Until then, the ministry will only get a Letter of Intent.

On November 9, 2015, the University Grants Commission had ordered 10 deemed universities, including BITS, to close their off-campus centres bacause they were set up without the UGC’s permission. BITS Pilani challenged the order in the and requested relief from coercive action. The institute contended in the court that the Goa and Hyderabad centres were established in 2004 and 2008, pre-dating the UGC (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2016.

BITS Pilani’s acting registrar SC Sivasubramanian told that he had heard about its exclusion through media reports. “We have not received any official notice,” Sivasubramanian said. “If they ask us to do certain things, we will do it. But we will wait for the official communication and then take action”.

N Gopalaswami, who heads the selection panel, said the University Grants Commission will decide on the matter, The Indian Express reported. “We have already said in our report [submitted to the government] that if there are any doubts on any matters [related to eligibility], it is for the University Grants Committee to decide,” Gopalaswami said. “We did not want to become the appellate authority over the UGC for cases between them and anybody else. We select on the basis of merit, as per the provisions (of the regulation).”

Gopalaswami is chairperson of the four-member Empowered Expert Committee that has been tasked with selecting 20 institutions for the tag.

University Grants Commission’s plan

The Union Cabinet had approved the University Grants Commission’s “Institutions of Eminence Deemed to be Universities Regulations 2017” in August 2017. The commission wants to use the tag and its provisions to create an environment to build world-class institutions in the country.

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government was criticised for conditionally including the Reliance Foundation-run Jio Institute, which is yet to be set up.