In the last decade, there has been a wind of change in the education sector in India. The coming of the private universities has been pivotal in introducing innovation, creativity, high academic standards, and international collaborations, which can no longer be ignored. Such universities have created havens for intellectuals, academicians, and students to speak freely, be innovative and carry forward their academics without the red tape. Faculties are highly qualified, known figures in their respective fields, paid well, and are given the freedom to design their courses based upon their interests and specialization. This article is an attempt to introduce two of such universities and the pioneering courses they introduced.
Ashoka University is situated in Sonipat, Haryana, about 40 km from Delhi. It was founded by a group of next-gen entrepreneurs like Ashish Dhawan and Sanjeev Bikhchandani, funded by affluent Indian businessmen to provide world-class liberal education with a model of Ivy League schools in mind. The University has tie-ups with the University of Pennsylvania, University of Michigan, Yale, Sciences Poe, etc. It receives visiting faculties, designs courses, and offers student exchange programs. Ashoka has rapidly become a leading centre for liberal arts. It provides flexible, research-based, and multi-disciplinary undergraduate, postgraduate, and PhD programs in social sciences, core sciences, and humanities. The University’s flagship program is called Young India Fellowship (YIF), a one-year postgraduate diploma in liberal studies, which provides multiple academic and professional avenues to explore. Students are provided with ample choices from the 20 curated courses taught by fields leaders such as Pratap Bhanu Mehta, AK Shiv Kumar, and Sanjeev Bhikhchandani. YIF fellows have opportunities to work on a team-based project to solve a real-world problem, undergo a critical writing program, be mentored by a stalwart, and receive career development support. The University also offers scholarships to almost 51% of its applicant in various capacities. New rounds of admission will begin in October 2021.
Plaksha University is situated in Mohali, Punjab. It is a technical university built on a similar model as Ashoka and is being funded by over 60 business leaders and technology entrepreneurs. The focus of the University is on bringing new and upcoming fields such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and robotics and reimagining engineering education as a response to the changing times. The academic board of Plaksha includes eminent leaders in the tech and education world, from the Nobel Laureate Abhijeet Banerjee to Vijay Kumar, the dean of Penn Engineering. The University has partnered with leading global institutions such as UC Berkeley, Purdue University, IIT Kanpur, etc. It offers to visit and teach faculties from MIT, Stanford, Cornell, Cambridge, and NTU Singapore. Plaksha offers undergraduate degrees (B-Tech) in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Cyber-Physical Systems, Biological Engineering Systems, and Data Science, Economics & Business. Courses have been carefully designed, provides flexibility, and is multi-disciplinary. Every academic year, students will be required to take a few core classes (across disciplines) and choose electives in various fields of study. Admissions for the first batch are open, and the final deadline for applications is on July 25.