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Anil Agarwal donates $1 billion to set up university

By A Correspondent in Mumbai
February 16, 2006 15:28 IST
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Anil Agarwal, chairman, Vedanta Resources Plc, is keen to establish a world class, multi-disciplinary university in India, with a vision to developing India's education and research infrastructure.

To be established with an endowment of up to $1 billion, Vedanta University will be of the calibre of institutes like Harvard, Stanford and Oxford, a Vedanta media statement said on Thursday.

Based on a 'not-for-profit' philosophy, the university will strive to impart world-class education and drive a cutting-edge research agenda, with an envisaged student population of more than 100,000 in the long term.

The university will also aim to nurture all-round excellence, beyond the academic dimension, to produce tomorrow's Nobel Laureates, Olympic champions and community leaders.

The vision entails spawning of an education and research township, around the university -- in a manner similar to how Stanford University enabled the birth of Palo Alto, the Silicon Valley's cradle.

Announcing the project, Anil Agarwal said, "India has high quality educational institutes like IITs and IIMs which are comparable with the world's best, but these are focussed on single disciplines. Moreover, these top-tier institutes collectively cater to less than 75,000-100,000 students annually -- not even 2% of total school output. There is an urgent need for universities providing quality education through a multi-disciplinary curriculum, along with a clear research focus -- to further India's potential as an R&D hub."

Agarwal met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to present the vision of the university and obtain his inputs as an eminent educationist. The prime minister endorsed the need for such a university and was fully supportive of the endeavour, the Vedanta statement said.

The university's academic and research agenda will reflect its 'multi-disciplinary' vision through colleges focussing on variety of disciplines, i.e. liberal arts, basic sciences, engineering, medicine, law, business, performing arts; as also, 'centers of excellence' for cross-disciplinary research in areas like agricultural research, information & communication technology, health sciences, rural economics and manufacturing sciences.

The colleges would include graduate, post-graduate and doctoral programmes, with the cornerstones of the university being leading faculty from India and internationally, acknowledged leaders in the field; and strong industry inter-linkages and research tie-ups from the onset.

At the core will be a high calibre, globally diversified, student body, comprising an equal mix of Indian and International students. It is envisaged that as the university would grow, it would also enable the establishment of other R&D centers, knowledge-based industries and start ups, to create a vibrant, education and research township/satellite city. This township would serve as a regional economic engine, with 'state of the science' infrastructure and the right quality of life to attract faculty and students from across the globe, the statement added.

A T Kearney India Ltd, a global management consulting firm, has been appointed to programme manage this endeavour. A team of consultants from offices in India, Europe and the United States has been working on charting a roadmap for this ambitious undertaking since the summer of 2005.

Key priorities in the roadmap include: identifying the right location for the university, building the academic plan and leadership team, and charting the right legislative roadmap, so that this university can attain global stature and compete with the best in the world.

Stanford University's Research Park has spawned more than 1,200 companies in the Silicon valley, with a combined market capitalisation of more than $300 billion: the vision of Vedanta University is to aspire to be a similar enabler for India, said the Vedanta statement.

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