For a change, Sonepat-based Rishihood University, which legislatively birthed in 2020 through a state Act of Haryana, has a vision of creating a brand of higher education that is in some ways, a resurrection of lost knowledge traditions of the glorious ancient past in the realm of university education depicted by examples of Takshila, Nalanda, Vikramshila etc. However, at a first look, does it convey that statement and is it a radically different from any of the new private universities that came up in the past one decade or so in terms of courseware, admissions and academic delivery, etc., is a question that can’t be perhaps answered at this stage. At the same time, while it is too early to judge a budding institution on its lofty objectives, still the symbolism and early signs of that reinforcement are apparently missing.
A bold experiment of synthesizing the traditional Indian knowledge with the mainstream western worldview is like walking a tightrope. Rishihood University’s (RU) founding leaders have a hope of incepting an ‘Indian Ivy League’ and RU is going to be a stepping stone for that. “We have a higher purpose and it will take its own time. We’ve ideas and a roadmap to create social impact, but we can’t rush without carefully evolving with student interest and researching problems,” says Shobit Mathur, Vice-Chancellor. Mathur, an IITian, who got associated with Vision India Foundation in his student years and then piloted Rashtram School of Public Leadership prior to his current role, is clear that RU will have to build its repute and brand before getting more ambitious.
RU on Nov 8, 2022, held its very first convocation for inaugural batches of its PG graduates. The ceremony was also used to welcome the incoming batches of 2022-2023. The university has this year admitted about 300 students and being fully residential, it is building more hostel capacity to add another 800 rooms by the next year. RU at its peak will have 3000 students.
Dr. V. Ananthanageshwaran – Chief Economic Advisor to the Government of India, who attended the event as the chief guest said: “With India’s economic rise, it will face many geo-political disruptions this decade. It is important to maintain guarded optimism. Focus on the long term, while adapting to the short term challenges. Balance growth with stability. We need grounded leaders who will steer India through this volatile future. I am happy to see that the efforts at Rishihood University are aligned in the right direction, to create leaders that India and the world need.”
The learning framework of the foundational level or the fist-year of 4-year UG degree, has been designed to be a multi-disciplinary course program to expose students to various sciences, philosophy and skills. “This makes their perspective richer and solutions more creative. This will set them apart from their peers in the real world. This is a novel approach to higher education, where the Indian knowledge is not an elective but the foundation,” says the VC.
After this, at present, five-schools—Creativity, Healthcare, Education, Entrepreneurship and (Rashtram school of) Public Policy, can be picked up by the student. The university has devised its own admission test through it accepts CUET score as well. (Please note: The current cycle of admission is over).
Among its other innovative initiatives is ‘RishiEd’ – the university’s wing of executive education, offering a bouquet of courses and programmes for inquisitive minds across age groups, backgrounds, and of various career aspirations. These executive programs are mostly online and weekend or short-duration campus programs duration vacations and evolving.
The coming years will be interesting to watch the evolution of RU as it has invested in building its faculty, chosen popular streams from Psychology to English, Healthcare and Design and importantly not rushed to burden itself with something completely experimental. Will it eventually it become a precursor of a new Indic model knowledge that will better western models, remains to be seen. And, also will it lift the otherwise nondescript Sonepat town an international education hub, is another interesting expectation.