Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Some details on Vedanta University

Billion-dollar dream

Tarun Narayan / Mumbai July 26, 2006

NEW PROJECT: The Sterlite-group’s Vedanta university education project will invite venture capital funds and angel investors to fund new ideas.

The $1 billion (around Rs 4,700 crore) investment-laden Vedanta University will bring in Angel Investors and Venture Capitalists to fund innovative ideas and research outputs that would emerge from the university.

On completion, it would be a pointer to VC funds finding their way into the education sector. An “entrepreneurial incubatory” or research park will also be set up to drive entrepreneurship whereby initial seed capital and infrastructure will act as a trigger for launching start-ups.

Not just that. To bring the university in league with the likes of Oxford and Harvard universities, the academia will have five to eight faculties of international repute leading its ‘Centres of Excellence’. Some of the premium academic talent from India and overseas will be hired as deans of colleges and heads of faculty departments.

The university has also drawn up an organisational structure to operationalise some of its goals.

At the highest level, for instance, there will be a board of trustees for university foundation that will comprise leaders from industry and society. They will be followed by University Leadership Team that will comprise of President & Provost. This in turn will be followed by heads and deans of schools and colleges who would then have a faculty pool under them.

Several alliances are planned with other campuses so that it facilitates exchange of ideas, research and teaching practices. Says M.Siddiqi, Project Director, Vedanta University, “The University will confer degrees in all streams: engineering, medical and management.”

The 10,000 acres of real estate in the Konark-Puri Marine Drive in Orissa where the university will be located has been identified based on criterions like nearness to airport, water body, and other factors like –tucked away from city yet not too far from the city– so that the spot has easy accessibility.

Recently, the university signed an MoU with the Orissa Government. The other “first” to this mega-endeavour being that the 1 billion dollar endowment is the highest ever endowment to have been given by any private individual in the entire world, that too for setting up a university. “The objective is to produce leaders in diverse fields: politics, olympians et al,” says Siddiqi.

Even the eco-system will be created with this objective in mind. Apart from a Olympic-calibre sports complex that has been talked about, there will also be a township on international lines that will have primary and secondary schools, theaters, cinemas, restaurants and book stores.

“Globally whether it is scientists, space-researchers or any other profession, at least 10 per cent faculty are Indians. At least 3 billion dollar goes out of India in the area of education. The focus of this University is to contain this outflow by providing a set up which can compare itself with the world.

If Indians can learn in some of those overseas universities why not create one ourselves?,” he asks. While benchmarking with overseas universities, master planners will look at factors like climatic conditions for instance, and this will be used in the master planning.

“In Oxford, for example, you can have study groups sitting in lawns, in India you can’t have that as it is too hot. Our master planning will be in lines with the likes of University of Arizona where the climate is more or less like India.” affirms Siddiqi.

M/S ASG from USA have been appointed Master planner. They are one of the top three campus master planners of the world. Here then is an academic venture that claims to be a front-runner right at the concept phase.

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