One crosses many landmarks in the course of a 177-year journey. Even so, August 8, 2016 marked an important milestone for the Times Group as the first academic session of Bennett University+ formally got underway.
The university, promoted by Times Group, already has two research papers on management in reputed journals to its name and five part-time PhD students in engineering. But it’s only just getting started+ .
“We’re starting with 300 students but hope to reach 12,000 in 10 years,” said Vineet Jain, managing director, Bennett and Coleman Co. Ltd (BCCL), and also the university’s first chancellor, addressing the new students and their parents. “Education…is arguably the best means to open the mind and expand it. It is our endeavour to equip you for the future…with academic skill on par with the best universities in the world.”
Registration for the post-graduate MBA programme began over a week ago; for engineering, it started on Sunday. Through Monday, students and their parents trooped into the spanking new premises+ of the university in Greater Noida, ready to make it home for the next couple of years. The total number admitted is about 240 and students have come from all over the country.
Apart from Jain, Shrijeet Mishra (COO, BCCL), Yaj Medury (vice-chancellor), Suneet Tuli (dean, engineering), Saji Gopinath (dean, management), Anil Kumar (director, external relations) and Ajay Batra (Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship), and the rest of the faculty were on hand to meet the excited students and parents. Ravi Soni, physics professor at Indian Institute of Technology, who’d come to drop his son off had queries about the engineering curriculum, to which Jain responded, “It is being designed with the support of Georgia Tech.” “This will be the private university everyone will talk about,” said an impressed Soni. Jain was introduced to many among the university’s diverse student body – including four sisters from Telanganaand Sankarsh Chanda from Hyderabad who has already written a book on finance and picked Bennett because he believes it’ll help him get his finance start-up going. “He left all the colleges in Andhra Pradesh,” said his mother, Sangeeta Chanda. But most just wanted to meet the people they’re entrusting their kids to and click photographs.
“The infrastructure here is very impressive and the faculty is renowned. But, more than that the varsity’s thrust is on the process of self-exploration, which is very rare here. We already have had a workshop at Pegasus, Dehradun. I am looking forward to more such workshops with international organisations as well,” Surbhi Arora, a first year MBA student said. A few minutes before, Mishra had told students, “You will discover yourself”. Raj Jain, CEO, BCCL, told students to take the next few years finding out “who [they] really are.”
Management student Ayesha Akhtar said she likes the “hatchery” of the varsity where students can develop and test ideas. “Our focus will be on entrepreneurship across courses. Even an engineer would be taught entrepreneurship,” assured the chancellor. As one teacher put it, entrepreneurship training isn’t an extra – it has been worked into the curriculum.
Vice-chancellor Yaj Medury hopes to start an undergraduate business administration course and expand the engineering programme to include civil engineering and biotechnology. “This is just the beginning of the journey,” said Vineet Jain, promising more programmes in engineering, management, journalism, law, design, pure sciences, liberal arts and public policy. “I know you are too knowledgeable to be given gyan. But don’t stop being curious and never stop questioning conventional wisdom,” he concluded.