India has close to 100 private run universities catering to students seeking career in management, engineering and medical sector. However, there is one university with almost different focus that is of catering to the education and development sector of India. The reference is to the Azim Premji University. Set up in Bangalore, this institution is exclusively focussed on offering programmes and conducting researches over the issues related to education and development only. This university will start operating from July this year by offering three courses in Master of Arts in Education, Master of Arts in Development and Master’s in Teacher Education, with all of them being two year full time courses.
Anurag Behar, the Vice Chancellor of the university while talking to India Education Review said, “India is lacking professionals in education and development sector. The purpose of these programmes is to create professionals for these fields. After which the students will be able to join NGOs working in education and development sector or Multinational organisations, government working in education and development areas.”
The university has plans to take 200 students in the first year, 50 for Masters in Education, 50 for Masters in Development and 100 for Master of Arts in Education, Master of Arts in Development and Masters in Teacher Education collectively. According to Anurag Behar, “In five years time we are expecting to have 2500 students studying in this campus.”
There are several things which separate this university from other universities running not only in India but across the globe. The first one is the unique feature of this university that it is entirely focussed on education and development and is started with single minded focus to create professionals for education and development sector who will further contribute to the society. This university is unique in terms of theory-practice linkage as this university is based in Bangalore but its programmes are spread across India where the students will not only study inside classes but will also go into the society to have better understanding of the course. As said by Anurag Behar, “The biggest challenge for any university is to tie together theory and practical. So for us the learning will happen in the field as well as in the classroom.”
The third difference is, students can continue to study without any financial constraint coming in their ways. Anurag Behar elaborated, “It’s a public commitment that if you get admission in our university it is our problem to arrange loan for them or to give them scholarship and so on. Thus making students free from any financial burden and entirely focus on their study.”
The university also plans to provide opportunity for working professionals as they too can take up courses in Azim Premji University. The university will provide them with some stipend like foreign universities besides scholarships, as the person will be leaving a source of income to join the course. They can also apply to Azim Premji Foundation for jobs along with applying for admission in the university. The person will be interviewed for the job at the time of admission but they will get the job only after successfully completing the course, thus it will be a kind of job security to them.
The university is starting with three courses but has plans of starting multiple specialised programmes on several other issues with education and development at their core, over the next five years. The Azim Premji Foundation, with more than a decade of experience of working in the educations sector, has associated with outstanding teaching members across the globe, to give students a better understating of issues faced by the education sector, not only in India but around the world.
Anurag Behar talking about the students said, “We do not have any intention to attract students from foreign countries, it is entirely for Indians. If somebody comes from somewhere we will not stop that as we want people to learn and work in India to help the society.”
The university is currently functioning from a building in the cyber city inside the Wipro campus while a 100 acre campus is being developed on the Sarjapur Road on the outskirts of Bangalore. The university coming up with a unique idea is expected to bring a revolutionary change in the Indian higher education sector, which is already going under a massive transformation phase, and to set the trend for others to follow.
(Shown below is the artists impression of the upcoming university campus)