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JGU has applied for Institution of Eminence status (NLUs probably can’t)

Would JGLS beat NLUs to institutional eminence?
Would JGLS beat NLUs to institutional eminence?

JGLS Sonepat stands a chance to make it to the Indian government recognised list of eminent institutions, in which none of the 22 national law universities (NLUs) may find a spot.

The OP Jindal Global University (JGU) has applied for the Institution of Eminence (IoE) status that the government had proposed to award to 20 Indian universities to be selected this year, confirmed JGLS vice chancellor Prof C Raj Kumar.

While applications by universities under the programme carry a fee of Rs 1 crore, each selected university could be awarded up to Rs 1,000 crore, according to the Times of India and other reports.

However, in respect of rumours whether national law schools too could be eligible, one NLU vice chancellor we spoke to commented: “People seem to think higher of NLUs (status) than what they actually are. NLUs aren’t even universities - [NLU as a] “university” is a fiction that they themselves have created. The UGC doesn’t even give any funding to NLUs.”

The proposal

The University Grants Commission (UGC) had, on 12 September, in its press release stated:

The Government is committed to improvement of quality of higher educational institutions. In this regard, the Government intends to establish twenty ‘Institutions of Eminence’ to achieve world class status, from amongst the existing Government/private institutions and new institutions from the private sector.

The release further stated:

The objective is to provide for greater Academic, Financial, Administrative and other regulatory autonomy to 10 public and 10 private higher educational institutions to emerge as world-class teaching and research institutions. The Institutions declared as Institutions of Eminence will be free from the usual regulatory mechanism to choose their path to become institutions of global repute with emphasis on multi disciplinary initiatives, high quality research, global best practices and international collaborations.


According to the UGC’s “indicative list of parameters”, which it lists in 19 bullet points for public sector IoEs these institutes should “preferably” be multi-disciplinary, with a need-blind admission process (which requires not turning back students who secure admission purely on merit but are not financially able to bear the fee), a “good” proportion of foreign and foreign-qualified faculty and a “reasonable good” mix of Indian and foreign students, among other parameters.

The NLU VC spoken to noted that for a university to be multi-disciplinary it should have several faculties (such as the law faculty, arts faculty etc) and several departments within each faculty, so the NLUs fail to meet even the first preferred parameter listed under the UGC proposal.

It is also common knowledge that most NLUs do not have a so-called “need-blind” admissions process - a problem which creates the need for an organisation such as the Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access (IDIA) initiative to look for donors to fund the legal education of those of its scholars who secure NLU admissions through pure merit.

We have also reached out to NLSIU VC Prof Venkat Rao who did not respond to calls and messages for comment since yesterday.

JGU does have several different departments, including the law department run as JGLS. However, JGU also published on its own website a criticism of the UGC’s proposal written by its assistant director for strategy and institutional research, professor Princy George. George had criticised the proposal for potentially increasing structural inequities in the education system.

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