June 12, 2017
Great cities confer a unique status and identity to the universities located in their jurisdiction. California boasts of two eminent universities – Stanford University and the University of California. Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, Edinburgh, Berlin, and Paris are other examples of great cities providing the location for leading universities. Nalanda and Taxila are examples of great university cities which existed in ancient India.
The advent of British rule brought to India the modern form of education and saw the establishment of universities patterned on the system prevalent in Great Britain. The seven oldest colleges and universities set up by the British were also in cities. The first college to be set up was at Serampore in 1818, Thomason College of Civil Engineering (now, IIT Roorkee) in 1847, University of Bombay (now Mumbai), University of Madras, University of Calcutta (now, Kolkata) all in 1857, Mohammedan Anglo- Oriental College in 1875, which later became Aligarh Muslim University in 1920, and Allahabad University in 1875.
In Karnataka state, Bangalore University was set up in 1886, Mysore University in 1916, and Mangalore University in 1980.
Today, Mangaluru city boasts of 3 universities in close proximity to each other – Mangalore University, Yenepoya University, and NITTE University. On the outskirts is located the National Institute of Technology Karnataka, designated as a National Institute of Importance by government of India. About 61 kilometers away in Manipal is situated the Manipal University. Thus in a small geographical radius there are 5 major universities and innumerable schools and colleges of repute. I would prefer to call this area as the ‘Education Pentagon’ because of the above 5 great institutions functioning in DK District and Udupi District. UK has its Golden Triangle of Oxford, Cambridge, and London universities. Let Mangaluru also boast about its ‘Education Pentagon’.
The challenge is to upgrade Mangaluru into a world class University City and promoting the Universities located here into the top league of World’s Best Universities. The potential of a nation is assessed not for its military prowess but by the sheer number of world class universities it possesses. It is only such institutions that can be a harbinger of new knowledge, new technology, and explore new scientific dimensions. That is why among many nations there is a scramble to set up world class universities. China has identified 9 universities – Fudan, Nanjing, SJTU, Tsingua, Hefei, Xi’an, Jiaotong, Zhegiang, and the Harbin Institute of Technology (all are State financed universities) to form a Chinese Ivy League. Germany has started a German Excellence Initiative. Even Saudi Arabia has pumped enormous resources in King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. It is also the first mixed-gender university campus in ultra orthodox Saudi Arabia. India also needs to develop its own Ivy League, to nurture future scientists and technologists.
Unfortunately, Indian universities are just ‘Teaching universities’ focused only on marks, whereas what we need is ‘Research Universities’. The ‘Education Pentagon’ of Mangaluru should be developed into a ‘ Big Science Facility’, as in China, comprising of facilities like Supercomputing Core Lab, Six sided Virtual Reality Facility that can turn data into 3D structures, Imaging and Characterization Lab, Propulsion and Combustion Engineering Lab, Aerodynamics & Fluid Mechanics Lab, Center for Integrated Turbulence Simulation, Hypersonic and Computational Aerodynamics Center, High Magnetic Field Laboratory, Synchrotron Radiation Facility and many more. The ‘Education Pentagon’ in Mangaluru should become the epicenter of India’s future scientific progress. The task, no doubt, is uphill but with co-operation from all Mangloreans it can become a reality.
Students who graduate from universities that have idyllic settings, report high overall satisfaction with their university experience. The benefits of a beautiful campus should not be underestimated. Studying in an appealing setting gives the much needed inspiration and relaxation. The best universities in the world match their academic credentials by being located in stunning surroundings of rolling mountains, leafy woodlands and serene lakes. In the rankings of ‘The Most Amazing college campuses’ of 2017, UC Berkeley stand on top:
The Berry College of Floyd County, Georgia, USA, is also highly rated as another beautiful campus:
The University of Virginia has an awe inspiring campus. Founded by President Thomas Jefferson, its Rotunda design is inspired by Rome’s celebrated Pantheon. It is set in 1682 acre grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
World class universities get rankings for a myriad dimensions, like:
1. Most beautiful college Arboretums
2. Amazing college museums
3. Luxurious student recreation centers
4. Best college quadrangle
5. Best college library
6. Best gymnasia
7. Number of restaurants
8. Art museums
10. Public meditation center
11. Range of academic offerings, activities and sports
12. Faculty resources
13. Availability of financial resources
14. Alumni giving
15. Student selectivity
16. Academic peer assessment
17. World class research publications
18. Levels of global competitiveness
20. Knowledge transfer
Indian universities are nowhere if the above standards are applied. It is a pity that we do not have a single world class university in India. The ‘Education Pentagon’, which I have proposed comprising Mangaluru and Manipal should join together to form a ‘Cluster of Excellence’, wherein share facilities, could be the norm, in order to minimize the financial burden. Derlakatte region can be developed into an ‘Exclusive University Zone’, and developed on the lines of American universities.
For this to become a reality, all the stake holders need to put their heads together, and develop a master plan for setting up an ‘Exclusive University Zone’. The process could be set in motion by notifying the entire Derlakatte region as being reserved for setting up a joint World Class University, otherwise it is likely to be usurped by real estate agents and ruined because of haphazard planning and reckless destruction of greenery. The area has immense potential to be developed into a picturesque World Class University Zone, with latest state-of-the-art facilities, arcades, laneways, gardens, green spaces, water bodies, tree lined avenues, and splendid buildings, all wowing students of future generations. It should be our duty, mission and vision to develop Mangaluru into an in-demand student destination. We possess a unique ‘Education Pentagon’, developed by visionaries; it is our duty to expand its horizons for the world to envy.
Dr G ShreeKumar Menon Archives: