On a ‘world-class’ mission

Through YIF, Aman Singh is exposing students to the myriad of jobs that are available for them.

Published: 25th March 2013 12:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th March 2013 03:33 PM   |  A+A-


All Aman Singh wanted to do was to provide quality education for students and build a world-class university that offered a global perspective and what a start he’s had. Singh is the project lead for The International Foundation for Research and Education (TIFRE). “TIFRE is a non-profit that seeks to set up an absolutely world-class university,” he starts off when the writer met him at the ThinkEdu Conclave, which was organised by The New Indian Express in Chennai on February 7 and 8. TIFRE was set up with the idea to not generate returns but get people to donate, invest philanthropic capital and build a university. He adds, “We started this in 2008 but we lost our confidence to raise $1 billion that was planned for the university. So a few of us got together and 60 of us started the Young India Fellowship programme (YIF).”

YIF, which was started in 2011 in collaboration with University of Pennyslvania, USA, offers a one-year residential, multi-disciplinary postgraduate programme. They enrol around 50 students every year with a sponsor supporting their studies. “The cost of studying last year was `8 lakh. This year it is `5 lakh. These are funded by sponsors like Narayana Murthy, founder, Infosys, Deepak Parekh, chairman, HDFC, Andre Béteille, professor of sociology, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi, etc. They support the programme in a very big way,” says Singh. TIFRE gets the best faculty from some of the well-known colleges/universities around the world like Harvard University, London University, etc. They are then given real-time work experience and training. Students also get to work with organisations in their area of interest. “This will help them choose the career they want after one year of study, instead of being given a regular job. Here we ask them to make a choice. We spend one year grooming them and opening their minds, after which they make a choice. So we have engineers turning into filmmakers or editors/writers, fashion designers moving into engineering designers,” he says.

Singh is also looking to establish a university — Ashoka University. He explains, “This will also be done in collaboration with many universities. It will be a liberal arts-centered university. Students will not be asked to choose their specialisation in the first year. They will study for two years and then figure out which specialisation they would like to pursue. So there will be exploration and then specialisation and their desire to learn is not killed by a duty to specialise in one particular subject.”



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