Progressing Towards the Vision to be a ‘Top 200 Global University by 2022’: Journey of Shoolini University
About Shoolini University: Founded by Dr P K Khosla, a retired Vice-Chancellor and Oxford Alumnus and mentored by scientists such as Dr MS Swaminathan, Shoolini is one of India’s top 25 Private Universities. Shoolini is a multi-disciplinary university with over 230 full-time faculty, 3300 plus students from 28 states and 8 countries, and one of India’s most inspiring and eco-friendly campuses. Shoolini has been ranked among Asia’s top 300 universities by QS 2021 Asia Rankings, making it India’s 37th ranked university.
Shoolini University aspires to provide high-impact, high-quality university education to lesser privileged students of Himachal and India at large through research, innovative learning, and community service. The University proactively upgrades its facilities in line with its goal to ensure a state-of-the-art pedagogical environment.
Key Challenges and their Mitigation Approach by Shoolini
Leveraging Disruptive Innovation: Leveraging technology, concentrating on niche areas for research, and at the same time building collaborations and linkages appear to be the way forward. To do so, the University has come up with time-bound action plans.
Broad-based Funding and Governmental Support: To take research to the next level, it becomes important to reach out internationally as also to enhance the scope and magnitude of consultancy and industry collaborated projects.
Enhanced Reach through Technology and Linkages: This requires adopting a multi-pronged strategy to extend online learning beyond the campus on one hand and be proactive in reaching out to the leading global research sites and making them available in accessible packages to the students on the other. This is a technological challenge, and the University needs to extend its physical reach through collaborations, consultancies, and linkages.
Factors Contributing to the Success of Shoolini
Institutional Vision: Shoolini has an audacious vision to be a top 200 global university by 2022. University’s desire to achieve this vision is perhaps the biggest strength. This vision is supported by the exceptional management team comprising of alumni from Oxford, IIT, IIM, ISB, Delhi University, and McKinsey.
Research and Development: Shoolini University is acknowledged as a role model among Private Universities in research and development. A four-tier system for faculty development (retired Professors, Post-docs from abroad, brilliant PhDs, and top postgraduates) aided Shoolini’s citational research and academic accolades. 500+ patents and an h-index of 71 make it distinct among its competitors. Scimago lists Shoolini at 545 and 37 amongst the world and Indian institutes respectively, based on research.
Himalayan Sustainability: Nestled in the Himalayas, Shoolini has developed intrinsic strengths for joint research on sustainability in the Himalayan region with international counterparts. The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Kathmandu, included Shoolini amongst the reputed Consortium of Himalayan Universities (HUC). The university has also partnered with another 100+ global universities on related research areas.
Outstanding Infrastructure: The university has one of the best-landscaped campuses, located amidst salubrious pine forests. The library is housed in an iconic building that has received a Belgian Architectural Award, figuring on the cover page of an international magazine. Facilities like an Indoor Stadium, Yogananda Ville, forest huts, and Cineplex are some of the unique facilities on campus.
Online Learning: Shoolini has a futuristic approach to learning, hence its IT policy is updated regularly to include changes linked to upgrades. This further enabled to ensure e-learning for all students during the lockdown period, due to COVID-19. Shoolini has the best digital infrastructure powered by an ‘in-house’ software ‘AADDOO’, certified by QS I-GAUGE, and shortlisted for an award by THE for performance in placements, has given the university an edge in online learning during the pandemic. The IT facilities enabled the University to continue regular academic work without any break during this period and the University was awarded the QS I-GAUGE's E-LEAD certification (E-learning Excellence for Academic Digitization). QS I-GAUGE E-LEAD Certification helped tremendously to benchmark the infrastructure, processes, and resources to the best in India and the world.
Skill Development: The Global Talent Index 2015 assesses that in India about 75 percent of the business houses struggle to find employable persons with the requisite technical and soft skills. Given the challenge, a pointed but sustained intervention was developed as a structured program to bridge gaps in the existing skill set of students. The objective was to provide an inclusive learning environment, which is stimulating, relevant, and engaging; a fusion of functional and technical skills required for practical use in the real life.
Ratings and Rankings: Shoolini University has also worked with QS I-GAUGE on Subject Ratings that helped in improving the academic and research output of the university. The University has achieved the top 300 ranks in QS Asia Rankings 2021. Preparing for QS I-GAUGE Ratings aided in improving the rankings. In addition, Shoolini’s perception of the student community has also scaled up.
Three Qualities of a Successful HEI
Community impact through Research and Innovation: Shoolini believes that universities should have a deep impact on their community through research and innovation. Globally this is a proven model with communities such as Silicon Valley supported by institutions such as Stanford and UC-Berkeley. At Shoolini researchers work closely with the local community on several critical issues such as cancer, water, food, and technology with the belief that we can help change the lives of people in our community.
Flexibility in Governance: While the speed of decision making is a major advantage for Private Universities including Shoolini, this flexibility at times could translate into a weakness unless the due procedures and processes are ensured and closely monitored.
International Students and Faculty: Internationalisation is essential for any HEI aspiring to achieve global benchmarks. Despite Shoolini University’s vision and significant effort towards developing global alliances and institutional linkages, the pace of getting international students and faculty has been slower than anticipated. Shoolini University has developed over 200 partnership programs with Universities in China, Taiwan, and South Korea, the flow of incoming students is much less than the outgoing students. The ongoing COVID pandemic has further impacted these endeavours.
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