'City of the Young' Part II: Building a world-class University City

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
9. Gardens
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
19. Internationalization
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:


By Dr G ShreeKumar Menon, IRS (Rtd), PhD (Narcotics)
Former Director General
National Academy of Customs Excise and Narcotics,
& Multi Disciplinary School Of Economic Intelligence, India
Fellow, James Martin Center For Non Proliferation Studies, USA
Public Administration, Maxwell School of Public Administration, Syracuse University, USA
AOTS Scholar, Japan
Registrar, Yenepoya University, Mangaluru
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Comment on this article

  • DH, SF/USA

    Thu, Aug 10 2017

    It's a good start. But this idea has some flaws that really ignore what makes those foreign universities top-notch. And it's not just the pretty campus landscaping.

    1) High admission standards. The entire UC (University of California) system admits only 18-20% of the high school graduates in California. Smarter students means that professors can cover materials a lot more quickly. California sends their average students to CSU (California State University) or to community colleges (for 2 and 3 year diplomas). A world-class university in India would have to be strict on admission like the IITs/IIMs. What's the plan for students who won't make the cut?

    2) World Class Faculty. You can learn network theory from someone helped create the internet or about solar radiation from a Prof who helped put a man on the moon. Attracting these superstars is not easy. You have to offer them amazing pay, a place with a high quality of life and tons of research funding.

    3) High ratio of graduate students. Every elite university in the world has a very high ratio of graduate students. In many cases, they have as many (or more) graduate students as undergraduate students. Those graduate students are the labour pool for those professors doing research.

    4) Interdisciplinary programming and research. You know why Harvard is great? Because an engineering student there can also take top-notch economics lectures. This lack of inter-disciplinary education and opportunities for cross-field collaboration are major flaws in India.

    5) Hospitable culture. The top universities are all in progressive cities where all cultures and faiths are welcome and where people mix freely. Mangalore has some issues with racism (talk to African students) and anti-religious bigotry (talk to Muslims). And opportunities for socialization outside the classroom are poor with not much nightlife. That does not make for an attractive place to spend several years studying.

  • Dhanya, Ernakulam

    Sun, Jun 25 2017

    Very well written Article.

  • K.J.Johnson, Puttur, D.K.District

    Fri, Jun 16 2017

    How to implement the ideas and who will do it? There needs to be a collective resolve by the people to elevate Mangaluru. Politicians are least bothered about developing anything.

  • Vasudev Kini, Uppala, Kasargod District, Kerala

    Thu, Jun 15 2017

    Simply superb. What imagination! Mangaluru can be developed so beautifully, if the author's views are given consideration by the Corporation authorities.

  • Abdul, Mangalore

    Wed, Jun 14 2017

    Article1-Article2-Watiting for Article-3 :)

  • Mehroof, Mangalore

    Wed, Jun 14 2017

    Stake holders will be an key factor, and we youngsters should develop the skill set and emerge as investors and give back to our native.

  • Shri, Mangalore

    Wed, Jun 14 2017

    The article is not just one man view :) it show the views of us, Mangloreans. Political leaders, upfront people should join hands.

  • Thejas, Kerala

    Wed, Jun 14 2017

    Idea of educational Pentagon, nice one :) very nice article sir.

  • Albin, Kannur

    Wed, Jun 14 2017

    Mangalore meri jaan :) nice article

  • Anandu, Kerala

    Wed, Jun 14 2017

    Absolutely, Managalore has become educational hub even for keralites, as the culture food style similar to kerala, an homely environment around. Educational Pentagon will be an brilliant idea.

  • Sachidananda, Manipal

    Wed, Jun 14 2017

    The author has integrated facts from all over the world and linked them brilliantly to Mangalore city's future growth. These ideas can be made use of by our town planners.

  • Prinston, mangalore

    Tue, Jun 13 2017

    Stake holders and Government interest make lot of difference, as mentioned in the article. Thank you sir for sharing your knowledge with us

  • Kavya, Bangalore

    Tue, Jun 13 2017

    Article highlights why Mangalore have greater opportunities as second tier cities, kudos for the narrator.

  • Ram, mangalore

    Tue, Jun 13 2017

    I agree ,ith points you made sir, especially about educational facility which we are famous for, with support like you people mixed up with youngster Mangalore in future will be top most postions.

  • kiran, mangalore

    Tue, Jun 13 2017

    Education Pentagon and idea we must look on sir :) yet again an brilliant article which enhance the strength of manglore or namma kudla

  • Niloufer, Bantwal

    Tue, Jun 13 2017

    Nice that there are people who have visions for Mangalore and the student community here.

  • George Fernandez, Mangalore, Ashok Nagar

    Mon, Jun 12 2017

    I liked the concept of "Education Pentagon", very original

  • Mehnaz khaleel, Mangalore

    Mon, Jun 12 2017

    The educational pentagon description is amazing , great article sir

  • Prof.Austin Pais, Mangalore

    Mon, Jun 12 2017

    Great article from Dr.Shreekumar Menon sir. Beautiful to read such things .I wish you all the very best sir for your future endeavours.

  • Priya, Mangalore

    Mon, Jun 12 2017

    Beautiful article with detailed study into minute aspects of our beautiful city

  • Dr.Phirdose, Mangalore

    Mon, Jun 12 2017

    A wonderful follow up to the previous article ! So much of detailed study and thought process has gone into the writing of the article ...it needs to be circulated and read by as many people as possible ! Truly every great action/ mission begins with an 'idea' ..."Education Pentagon"- - "what an idea , Sir ji !!!! "

  • Antony D'Cunha, Permude/Muscat

    Mon, Jun 12 2017

    A thought provoking article. All big ideas start with a small beginning. It is possible to dream big and reach the goals. We have very aspiring minds in and around Mangalore. Our influential stalwarts in the education field can come together and ignite this positive move to set the standards to put Mangalore on world class destination for advanced education and research activities.

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