World class varsities must for knowledge economy: Vineet Gupta, founder Ashoka University

Published: 12th May 2022 05:45 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd September 2022 07:43 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

The demand for quality education continues to increase in India as the growing economy requires talented individuals to cater to the demands of the knowledge economy. 

“There has been a need to reform higher education in India for a long time. The lack of reforms has not only led to a large percentage of our graduates being unemployable but also led to a huge outflow of youngsters seeking higher education abroad. The New Education Policy, 2020 seeks to bring in much needed reforms and the stage is set for institutions to be set up in India which can cater to the huge demand for higher education in our country”, says Vineet Gupta, Ashoka University founder. However, modern day educational institutions will need to adapt themselves to the changing times in order to best serve the interests of their students and stay relevant in a world where students have ever increasing options.

Building a university for present day India

Institution building is a noble task and educators are taking the responsibility of educating young minds of the country. However, universities are much more than just centres of learning. The modern university not only helps students complete their higher education, but also helps in their holistic development and provides them exposure to sport, music, art and a host of other extra and co-curricular activities. 

Universities of today should look to incorporate the following institution building model to drive excellence and relevance:

Collective philanthropy: “At Ashoka University, we have over 150 eminent founders who have contributed to build the institution. In addition, they have contributed with their time and expertise to the brand of the university. There is and can be only one mission that binds all these people together – to build an excellent institution. Hence excellence is built into the DNA of the institution. Excellence in turn draws in more like-minded founders. It is a virtuous cycle and the founder base of Ashoka will continue to grow”, says Gupta.

Selecting the right faculty and leadership: Faculty are at the heart of institution building. Selecting and recruiting the right faculty helps in building a great institution. Good students in turn are attracted by high quality faculty. The second key stakeholder category is the selection of leaders who run the university. University leaders need to be not only just great scholars but also open-minded, empathetic and have a deep commitment to institution building.

Experiential learning and real-world exposure: Curriculum that is supplemented by project work, has open-ended problems and research assignments helps build problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Students in professional courses need to go on industry visits, have special lectures with industry evangelists and prepare case studies on real world problems. Engineering education should encourage learning by building and making than learning just theoretical concepts.

Apprenticeship and Internships: “Apprenticeship and Internships should be a part of every university program in today’s age. Often students are confused on what professional organisation they would like to join. Multiple internships help students not only in discovering their strengths but also figuring out which job functions they like or don’t like. It also brings in the whole element of learning by doing.” adds Gupta.
Investing in modern infrastructure: Universities of today need to be well equipped to give students the platform to get the best out of their education experience. Investment in digitisation, research labs, makers labs and adoption of the latest learning technologies etc. go a long way in curating a modern university experience. “The idea of a campus as a living lab is being tried by many new institutions,” adds Gupta. 

“The reason why Ashoka University has become a brand is because of its focus on governance, faculty and curriculum. Today, Ashoka University has gone from strength to strength and established itself as one of the top private universities in India. As per the most recent QS University rankings in 2021, Ashoka University was ranked among India’s top 5 private universities, among the top 250 universities in Asia and amongst the top 30 universities in India. In terms of international faculty, Ashoka University ranked no.1 among all 118 universities,” says Gupta.

For India to fulfil its mission of building a $5 trillion economy, we will need many high-quality educational institutions that not only provide trained people, but also focus on research and innovation. We need to break free of age-old practices that hamper our higher education ecosystem and strive towards building a new one which builds on our strengths. Universities which can find the right balance between modernisation, and our core values will emerge frontrunners in the post NEP era of Indian higher education.  

India Matters
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