Located in Baroda, the majestic campus of the Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU) covers a sprawling 257 acres. Around 35,000 students study a range of programmes here, from medicine to humanities, from classical dance to technology. More than 10 per cent of the total students have on-campus accommodation.
Jubilation swept through the MSU as its alumnus Venkatraman Ramakrishnan became a Nobel Laureate this year, winning the prize for chemistry along with two others.
Ramakrishnan aka Venki studied BSc in physics here before moving on to chemistry, but the university can justly feel proud.
Also at MSU, the number of researchers and research projects has taken a huge leap in the past few years. In 2000, 43 projects were under way; in 2008, the number rose to 128, an almost exactly three-fold increase. The growing focus on innovation has led to more and more students earning doctorates here. While 112 students earned PhD degrees across all disciplines in 2000, the number was 244 in 2008.
The university has Bachelor’s, Master’s and doctoral programmes in almost all disciplines, including English, Russian, German, Marathi, Sanskrit, sociology, history, economics, political science, library and information science, philosophy, commerce, business administration, education, psychology, home science, fashion design, clothing and textiles, fine arts, law, medicine, physiotherapy, performing arts, physics, maths, botany, geology, geography, environmental science, technology (mechanical, electronics, metallurgical, chemical, civil, textile, electrical) and pharmacy.
The university also has short-term certificate programmes, which can be as short as 15 days and as long as one year. “These short-term courses are either job-oriented or cater to skill enhancement, like those in jewellery design, event management, foreign languages, financial management and even astrology. We have more than 40 such courses,” says SN Bansal, director, Centre for Continuing/Adult Education.
One interesting aspect of the university curriculum is that students have to devote 120 hours a year to social welfare activities during the first year of graduation. But a considerable number of students prefer to continue the community work even in second and third years.
“Students from almost all disciplines like engineering, arts and commerce join hands and help build a better society,” says Dr MN Parmar, programme co-ordinator, National Service Scheme. “They promote AIDS and health awareness, teach underprivileged children, run cleanliness drives and spearhead slum development projects.”
The university campus has 16 hostels taking in more than 4,000 students.
The university’s Smt Hansa Mehta Library has more than 4.5 lakh books, apart from the 14 departmental libraries. The labs carry out big projects funded by agencies like Unicef, United Nations Organisation, Indian Council of Medical Research, Department of Science
and Technology, Department of Biotechnology and the Council of Scientific and Industrial
Research. The university has facilities like a computer centre, health centre, guesthouse
and its own press.
Found on campus: “Teachers and students are quite co-operative. Lectures are delivered in
Hindi, but for me, they explain in English as well, which shows their concern for each one of
us,” says William Hofmann, a second-year student of Bachelor of performing arts (vocal)
from New York.
In 1925, a committee said in its report that Gujarat was not developed enough to have a
university. Two of its members, however, asserted that Gujarat must have a separate
university. This led to the appointment of a commission, which advocated the establishment
of a university at Baroda. The Baroda State Legislature passed a bill, paving the way for
MSU’s birth in 1949.
“Some political activities among students have led to fights that have marred the decorum
desired on a university campus. These should stop,” says Bhimada Devendra N, a
second-year student, Master of human resource management.