The Telegraph
Tuesday , January 7 , 2014
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Varsity eyes August soft start

Better to start small and achieve glory rather than running and biting the dust.

It seems to be the motto of Nalanda University, which is expected to launch “soft start” this August in Rajgir, around 90km southeast of Patna.

On the sidelines of three-day international conference, “Cultural Heritage — Environment, Ecology and Inter-Asian Interactions”, Anjana Sharma, the dean (academics) of the university, said there would not be more than 45 students to be enrolled in the first year.

“We should not be hurrying into things else it can turn out to be a disaster. The best way is to go slow and steady. The university campus in Rajgir needs to be ready first so that more research scholars can be admitted. Right now, though things are moving, admitting many scholars in one go, right at the start, is not a good idea, as things can fall apart. The classes are expected to start from August,” Sharma said. In the first phase, two departments — School of Ecology and Environment Studies and School of Historical Studies — will be started.

Ahmedabad-based firm Vastu-Shilpa, which had won the competition to design the 455-acre university, unveiled its master plan last year.

“Advertisement regarding hiring of the faculty for the two schools was posted in many national and international job sites as well as The Economist on December 21 last year. The response has been terrific with the number of applications crossing the 100-mark in just the first week. However, we cannot tell you the exact number of applications. First, the focus is on the selection of the faculty. It is only after the core faculty is selected that the university will start the screening process in connection with the research scholars,” Sharma added.

Both the schools will be operating from the temporary campus in Rajgir with the classes to be held at International Convention Centre. “We are going by the international standards and there will be two semesters — fall and spring. The names of both can change though,” Sharma said, adding: “In the US education system, a fall semester starts by August and goes on until December while the spring semester starts in January and goes on till May. We will lay the foundation first with limited number of faculty members and research scholars.”

In May last year, the selection committee of the university had received 87 applications of research fellows and had selected only seven. Of them, three were Indians while the other four were from Canada, the Netherlands, Myanmar and Germany. Most of them are at the post-doctorate level in their careers and associated with research in various universities, the officials had said.

“The university is organising many national and international conferences from time to time. It is a good way to build up a network and spread the Nalanda message across the globe,” Sharma said.