Noida-based Shiv Nadar University (SNU), which began operations last August, recently joined hands with Babson College to offer programmes focused on entrepreneurship and to establish a center for entrepreneurship. While its peers suggest, the university is facing some teething troubles in terms of attracting students, Nikhil Sinha, founding vice-chancellor, SNU, tells Disha Kanwar that the institute is not in the volume game and is focused on attracting the best talent. Excerpts:
How is the Shiv Nadar University doing since it opened last August?
We have made good progress. We started last August with five batches of engineering students in five specialised programmes. Since then, in addition to teaching the students, we have been building the faculty to launch additional programmes this year. Apart from these five specialisations, we also have undergraduate programmes in physics and chemistry. Mathematics, too, will be expanded. We have got a School of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Natural Sciences besides the School of Engineering. The other major changes this year will be the addition of the post-graduate and PhD programmes in disciplines such as physics, chemistry, computer sciences, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering, and we are gearing up for the changes.
Is attracting quality students a challenge, given the fact that there are other good institutions in SNU's vicinity?
We will look at the results of Class XII Board exams. We conduct our own admission tests, and after that the interview round follows, and this is how we will select students. We have a rigorous programme based on merit. Only merit-based admissions happen at SNU. A scholarship and financial aid programme will be announced for 2012-13. We have the best scholarship schemes for the undergraduate and the graduate programmes in the country. In fact, our PhD programme will be the highest funded such programme in the country. Our PhD students will be earning Rs 30,000 to 35,000 a month after paying all costs of education.
Industry players say the university has not been able to manage good admissions for its programmes. Please comment.
SNU was launched in August 2011. It has been uniquely positioned as a research-led, interdisciplinary university designed to create a global centre of learning and education in India, and is bench-marked to international standards.
Our positioning is a conscious decision to create a global university in India and is clearly differentiated from the others. We are not in the volume game, and are focused on attracting only the best talent. This year, we admitted 274 students from among the 2,000 applications we received. We have stringent eligibility criteria in place, and the average score of the first batch was 90 per cent. We maintain a healthy faculty-student ratio of 1: 12 to ensure impactful quality education.
So, you are happy with the progress?
We are satisfied with the way SNU is evolving. We have just announced a global partnership with Babson College in the US, for entrepreneurship education. We have attracted a stellar faculty, including some of the best academic minds from leading colleges and global universities like IIT Delhi, Oxford University, University of California at Berkeley and St. Stephen’s College. Around 60 per cent of the hired faculty have had some experience abroad or have pursued their PhDs abroad.