Mumbai: Ten high-performing state universities across India are set to undergo a Rs 100 crore upgrade each this academic year as they are forming campus companies— special purpose vehicles—to receive grants directly from the Centre. Besides, they will be mentored by seven US universities, including Cornell, UPenn and UC Berkeley, in various disciplines.

Pune’s Savitribai Phule University, Kolkata’s Jadavpur University and Haryana’s Kurukshetra University are among the 10 universities with NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation Council) ratings of over 3.51 selected for the Rs 100 crore grant. The Union HRD ministry likens these ten universities to the IITs of 1960s that rose with large special funding and autonomy. The campus companies will also be allowed to raise additional resources from outside, sources have said.

Ten universities have been selected for Rs 1,000 crore funding under the Centre’s Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyaan (RUSA) to promote excellence, with the condition that the money is spent by March 2020.

“These universities have been identified for their achievements thus far. To climb up, say to move from a 3.51 to a 3.8 or a 3.9 involves a lot of work. It cannot be business as usual,” said an MHRD source. RUSA is a collaborative effort between the centre and the state with Delhi shouldering almost 70% of the funding.

These campus companies, to be headed by V-Cs and having eminent faculty and independent domain experts, have been asked to make presentations and proposals, submit daily updates, weekly progress charts and they will undergo monthly reviews, much like a corporation.

At present, funds usually move through a circuitous route: First MHRD releases fund to the state’s finance ministry, which, in turn, releases it to the state education ministry from where the the grant is released for the university, which which also there are several layers of bureaucracy. With the universities forming campus corporations under the Companies Act, the MHRD grant will directly go to the institution’s SPV.

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Savitribai Phule University, Karaikudi’s Alagappa University and Hyderabad’s Osmania University have already formed their companies, while the Odisha government has given its nod for Utkal University to form a company and Jammu University is in the process of setting up its company. “We need to have systems that are enabling and supportive. They must allow for quick decision making and they must fast track processes,” the MHRD source added.

“It would not be right to say that senate and management councils are hindrances. But they don’t meet every day or every week. One requires to take quick decisions and move fast. Although there is an SPV company, there is very close monitoring by the RUSA resource centre,” said a vice chancellor.

While Savitribai Phule University will be mentored by University of California, Berkeley, on Startup Accelerator Program, Jammu University will be mentored by University of South Florida on ‘Entrepreneurship Innovation and Sports’, by University of Pennsylvania on ‘Education Innovation’ and University of California, Berkeley, on Bio-Technology and Data Science. Osmania will be mentored by the University of Pennsylvania in the area of education innovation, University of California, Berkley will work with Jadavpur University for blockchain, data services and the economics programme. Cornell University will mentor Alagappa University for its life sciences school and Purdue will mentor Andhra University for pharmaceutical and manufacturing.



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