Millennium Post

Educating leaders of the future

Since its inception in 1969, how do you see the progress of the university? What are its future plans for further development?
In our Sonepat Campus, we have already signed a MOU with the London school of Tropical medicines to develop such medication here. The problem with India is that there are certain diseases that are neglected.  Therefore, we are now trying to concentrate on diseases that afflict the poor man and hence the collaboration with the London School of Tropical Medicine. 

We have already developed a research centre with 4D technology to augment our collaboration. Some other institutions have also collaborated with us to develop medicines required for our tropical climate too.

We have a very competent team of people from the pharmaceutical industry and academia, who have contributed to this endeavour. We have regular meetings to introspect and develop ways of establishing maximum impact on reputed social causes.

Our team at SRM is particularly strong in biochemical research. We encourage these kinds of research and believe in nurturing expertise in these areas. The idea is to build and nurture a team of researchers, who can contribute to social causes as well as play a part in nation building.

SRM University has traversed across three decades of experience in higher education. We started with our first university in Chennai, a 600 acres campus. The campus offers a myriad of multi-disciplinary courses. However, our chancellor had a great vision of education that starts right from school. We began with the establishment of the Nightingale School. From there we went to polytechnic colleges and then the university.  

We built the first university in 1969, before which we had schools and engineering colleges. We have almost six university campuses, and close to 20 engineering colleges and schools, three in Chennai, and two in Delhi NCR (one in Ghaziabad and one in Sonepat).

Sonepat was the first campus in the Rajiv Gandhi Education city plan, which aimed to bring better higher education to Haryana. We were the first one to have the largest land pool and set up a university for the same.

The latest addition to our pool of campuses is the university in Sikkim that began operations in September. We have been invited by many state governments to form a university under the private-public partnership model. However, we are very discerning, when it comes to such decisions. We want a horizontal and a vertical model of progress to make sure that the best talent is taken in the system to develop future pillars of our country. We have to make sure that the right set up is adopted.

You have a course in library and information sciences?

As far as the Haryana campus is concerned, one of the main things we want to promote here are previously neglected libraries and information centres. To have a good command over any academic sector, a good library is a basic necessity. The strength of any university is its library. We are trying to promote library sciences here, which includes good management of libraries and journals. So, apart from engineering and law programmes, library sciences is one of the major programmes being offered by our Sonepat campus.

Very few universities offer courses in library education. Although some in South India do offer such courses, private universities mostly focus on technical subjects.

On the Ghaziabad campus, which is an offshoot of the Chennai branch, we have two key areas of focus. We have a school of Education that offers B.Ed and M.Ed programmes, besides hotel management. The demand for our hotel management graduates is remarkable.

What are the placement opportunities for students from SRM University?

I strongly believe in career development. Students who enrol in Harvard, Cambridge, do not go for placements. They go for valuable work experiences, which naturally gives you great placement. Across all SRM University campuses we have competent career development offices, who closely sit with students to understand their aspirations, skills set and aptitude. Based on such interactions, choices for our students are derived. Accordingly, many work on their summer internships and final placements. Even when students have a choice, they should work before and see if it is the right one for them.

Our placements are good because our career development endeavours are strong. We invest a lot of time and energy in building their careers. It’s not about employment anymore, it’s about employability. We believe in strengthening things like their communication, inter personal skills, critical evaluation and analytical reasoning. All these elements are very important apart from acquiring the requisite knowledge.

The university has exchange programmes with other foreign universities. How do you plan to expand such programmes?
Across campuses we have very intensive exchange programmes. We strongly believe that in the next twenty years, one third of the major global work force will be from India. Our students need to understand diverse cultural, social, economic and educational patterns.  They should be prepared to compete with international standards, through these semester exchange, faculty exchange and joint research programmes. We have a whole range of programmes where one can get international exposure in learning. Our goal is to be in the top 200 universities in the world.

We also have a Faculty Development Programme (FDP) wherein our teachers sit with expert panelists to sharpen their skills as well. Even UGC has moved from teaching to learning by application. They have adopted the Academic Progressive Indicator (API). The API score is very important. And as far as our faculty is concerned, the idea is to hone quality man power. We seek to identify the right set of people and make sure they are suitably skilled to match the new generations’ need.

In various government universities, infrastructure is a big problem. SRM, however, has developed its infrastructural facilities rather well.

Buildings are buildings. However, what we need to focus on is academic infrastructure like libraries, workshops, etc. We have invested in these spaces and built good auditoriums and conference halls to stimulate greater intellectual discussions.

How does SRM University take up social issues or create awareness among students and the public?

One of the things we constantly try to work on is the process chain. The industry is closely related to higher education institution as they find qualified man power there. However, higher education universities are not in the position to work closely with schools. School education is not modelled on what one will want to opt for in college. As an institution we are trying to engage with schools to bridge the skill gap required for higher education.

Most developed countries have the concept of summer schools to make students understand the thought process behind a higher education institution. These are not activity programmes, like what our Indian schools indulge in. Thus we are doing this so that a better and more aware person comes forward for higher education. This ultimately helps us and the industry acquire candidates with the requisite quality.

In a time where most parents are concerned about placement, will technological advancements like cloud computing pose a threat to the man force in the IT industry?

Certainly not! Whatever we prepare for today, may be used in a completely different way in the years to come. What we are trying to build here are individuals who can take up any challenge in the future and that they will have the basic skills required to overcome them. Look at Facebook or Twitter, people have adapted to it so easily now. This is the natural evolution of progress. Once one has the basic knowledge they can be very flexible and happy to be in tune with development. The world is moving towards creating knowledge society, information is everywhere and available on the click of a button. We have to equip students with a bent for learning. They need to be encouraged to question their teachers at all times. Higher education should be all about asking questions.
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