“IN a bygone era, universities produced students and corporations recruited them. As competition intensifies, especially for manpower, many corporates have now begun to set up institutions of their own. Though each of them treat it at arms length and attributes philanthropic motives to the initiatives, the possibilities for forward and backward linkages are exponential.
Pro-Chancellor, NIIT University
Though old world corporations like Birlas and Tatas have set up educational institutions in the past, two new initiatives stand out with respect to their yet to be realised potential for excellence.
“A campus must be built with students as the focus”, the conviction in the tone of Rajendra Pawar, founder Chairman - NIIT Ltd and Pro-Chancellor of NIIT University (NU), communicates what the university stands for. Conceptualized as a multiversity, NIIT began its operations with Engineering and has now launched an MBA programme.
The university has been built around four principles: industry-linked, technology-based, research-driven and seamlessness. The idea is to evolve into a campus which is in the forefront of knowledge creation and dissemination (which is evident by campus structuring). Publications, Placements and Patents, the three Ps that separate men from boys as far as universities are concerned might find fruition in NU provided they get the faculty mix right. |
The Bharti School for telecom is yet another initiative in the telecom engineering domain, though Bharti group has very little direct involvement in the day-to-day running of the school.Yet another initiative in the engineering domain is one by the HCL group. Shiv Nadar, the founder of the corporation, has been interested in education for quite sometime, The SSN Group of institutions set up by him has been running well regarded engineering college in Chennai for the last 15-odd years. With academic tie-up and joint programmes with the likes of Carnige Mellon University, the future looks quite bright for SSN.
The same group is now setting up a new university at Greater Noida, which also hopes to be a multidisciplinary institution, though it started off with an engineering school. We quizzed the founder Vice-Chancellor on what the institution hopes to achieve and where it is heading (See interview alongside). With the formidable networks, both formal and informal, that these corporations could tap into, the students could get not only good education but a host of opportunities to use the same as well.
INTERVIEW: Dr.Nikhil Sinha, the founder Vice Chancellor of Shiv Nadar University
“Research is our priority”
The pressure of bringing a univeristy up from ground zero, sits lightly on Sinha. The affable professor of communication in an email interview with careers360 discusses what is in store for the university in the coming years.
Q. Why did you decide to start with Engineering Studies at the University?
A. Let me begin by emphasising the fact that the Shiv Nadar University is envisioned as a multidisciplinary university having engineering, natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, education and business studies. We have started with the School of Engineering because we are very familiar with it due to our 15 years of experience of running SSN Institutes, Chennai.
Q. How do you plan to scale up the university in the coming years?
A. We are starting with 200-300 students in the foundation batch in 2011. We expect to ramp this up to 1,200-1,600 students next year with all the six areas functional. The university will have a capacity of 8,000 students with 50-60% of the students in the undergraduate programmes and the rest in PG programmes. We expect to reach full capacity in 8-10 years. SNU is going to be a research-led university with a high focus on not only faculty research and PG research but also research at the UG level.
Q. What is the ecosystem you are going to build to foster research?
A. We have the SSN Research Centre at SSN Institutes, Chennai, which is a standalone research centre doing research for over a decade in energy conservation, security and surveillance etc. The learnings from there would be brought to SNU. In addition, we have instituted a position of Dean-Research to promote research across the campus, responsible for research culture and execution.
Q. What is going to be the cost of your engineering programme?
A. The programme will cost Rs. 8 lakhs for 4 years excluding hostel and mess charges. If you consider the high quality of education that we are going to provide and the operating costs involved in the 300-acre campus, it is bound to reflect on the fees to some extent. However, we feel it is important to make SNU most affordable through financial aid and scholarships and we are going to have a merit-based, need-blind admission process. For our first class, we are giving a 100% tuition-fee waiver.
Q. What is unique about SNU?
A. First and foremost is the inter-disciplinary curriculum we are going to have. Every student will have to go through a core set of common subjects across humanities, social sciences and natural sciences even if he is enrolled for engineering. Secondly we will give students the opportunity to explore by allowing them to take varied electives and deferring the selection of majors. Thirdly we are going to have an international component to every course via partnerships with various international universities. Fourthly the focus is going to be on experiential learning through internships, externships, community service etc.