Redefining education with social impact: Amrita University among world’s top 100
India has one of the largest higher education systems in the world in terms of the number of students, next to only China and the United States of America, and the maximum number of universities in the world at over 4,300 to cater to this burgeoning demand.
With the number of students enrolling into universities offering higher education seeing an upward climb year on year, this figure is expected to increase further in the years to come.
Last year, the government had taken a decision to expand access to higher education for 50 per cent of high school students by the year 2035 and increased public spending on education to 6 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from the existing 4 per cent.
The aim of higher education
The role of universities is not just to impart quality education to students thereby equipping them with the right skill sets that make them job ready. It is also to contribute to society at large by influencing change. Outside the realms of the classroom where academics are taught, a good university also operates as a social institution which encourages economic, political, social and cultural transformation of the society at large.
For this, it is imperative that the curriculum is designed in a manner that academics is taught with a perspective that intersperses it with large social goals. A change has been witnessed in India over the past few years and some universities have come out shining in this respect.
An important case study
A pertinent case in point here is that of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham. Set up under the guidance of spiritual leader Sri Mata Amritanandamayi, the university is committed to the cause of instilling a strong value system in its students and making its contribution to society at large in bringing about social change.
Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham believes in the transformative power of an effective value-based education, which provides the impetus to develop both scientific knowledge and spiritual understanding. The knowledge gained from a good education can be used to power sustainability and other such causes.
Making an Impact
It is this vision that has earned the university the tag of the only one from India making it to the coveted Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Ratings, at the 81st spot among the top 100 universities selected globally for their contribution to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham bagged the fifth position for imparting quality education and eighth for furthering the cause of gender equality.
“Times Higher Education are delighted by the performance of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham in this year’s Impact Rankings. Their commitment to core humanity, that lies at the heart of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, shone through their submission. India has a huge role to play in delivering a sustainable future for the world, and the work that its universities do, as is exemplified by Amrita, is vital,” said Duncan Ross, Chief Data Officer, THE.
Talking about this milestone achievement, Dr P Venkat Rangan, Vice-Chancellor, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham said: “We are very happy that Amrita University has found its place in the top 90 universities in the world in THE Impact Rankings. This is a testament to the vision of world-renowned humanitarian leader and chancellor, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi, in setting the dual goals of education for life and compassion-driven research. The recognition would not have been possible but for the untiring efforts of our students and faculty.”
The acclaim came from the United Nations too, who termed this as a dramatic affirmation of the UN charter. “Amrita joined United Nations Academic Impact in hosting an event in July 2015 for distinguished scholars to discuss the direct connection between academic research and the dignity and worth of the human person. Thus, the premise of the UN Charter was dramatically affirmed,” said Ramu Damodaran, Chief of United Nations Academic Impact.
Committed to sustainable living for all
Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham’s programs are based on the philosophy of providing “education for life and not just education for a living”. The university has more than 180 peer-reviewed SDG4-related research articles, serves over 32 lakh online learners, more than 12,000 schools, 5000 colleges and 100 village education centres. It has helped train over 54,000 teachers across the country.
The university has been awarded a UNESCO chair for “experiential learning for sustainable innovation and development” through which it promotes academic engagement to build sustainable communities.
The Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, ranked 7th in NIRF rankings, created medical history in January 2015 by carrying out India’s first hand transplant and also the only three hand transplants ever done in India. It also sent out medical relief teams during the 2018 Kerala floods. The school has done cutting-edge research in surgeries, nano materials and has one of the highest applied research publications in the country.
Extending a helping hand
One of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham’s most transformative projects is Live-in-Labs®, a multidisciplinary experiential learning program that breaks classroom and lab barriers by applying theory learnt in classrooms to real-world settings.
This credit-based academic program draws on principles of lean research for the development and deployment of sustainable solutions for current challenges faced by rural communities in India. Working on sustainable development in rural communities, the project currently has more than 150 projects running in 21 states across India and has touched the lives of more than 60,000 rural residents.
One of the projects under this, called Jivamritam Purified Clean Drinking Water Initiative, is currently providing clean drinking water to over 5,000 villages in India.
In addition to the Times Impact Ratings, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham has won many other awards in the recent years. Among these are Number 1 Private University in India by THE World University Rankings 2020, Number 1 in India for International Faculty by QS World University Rankings, 4th Best University in India by National Institutional Ranking Framework of the Government of India, 7th Best Medical College in India and also the youngest university to be accredited with ‘A’ grade by NAAC. Click here to know more about its accolades.
The university has created a niche for itself as a multi-disciplinary, research-intensive private university with over 20,000 students enrolled in programs in Engineering, Management, Medical and Life Sciences, Arts and Humanities, and Social Sciences. For more information about Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, click here.