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Manipal University Aiming to be a Frontrunner in Healthcare

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G K Prabhu,
Registrar, Manipal University

Manipal International University received the deemed university status in 1993. Over the years, it has spread its wings far and wide. Apart from three Indian campuses, it also boasts of international presence with a campus each in Dubai and Malaysia. G K Prabhu, Registrar, Manipal University, in conversation with Pragya Gupta.

How is the Manipal University aiming to enhance higher education in the country?
Manipal University today is well known for education and healthcare and we have about 24 institutions that are catering to various fields of study. Our vision is to be a global leader in human development, excellence in education and healthcare.

According to you, what are the major challenges being faced by private universities in India?
A private university does not get any kind of government grant and thus everything has to be taken care by the students’ fees. So the cost of education is passed on to the students, but we also know that with high cost, we are unable to attract the quality students. Thus, we have to strike a balance and we need to create scholarships through which we can attract quality students. Another challenge is the appointment of staff and faculty. Building quality physical infrastructure is easier, but what is more important is to attract quality faculty. There are some regulatory challenges as well. For example, we have to wait for a long period of time to get a nod for increasing the number of institutions or students. The authorities must not paint every deemed university with the same brush. They are right in their own way, but being one of the oldest private universities, I think we deserve some kind of flexibility in regulations.

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Building quality physical infrastructure is easier, but what is more important is to attract quality faculty [/colored_box]

What kind of innovations have you introduced at Manipal University especially in the fields of medicine and management?
We have nearly 400 courses on offer, including engineering, dentistry, pharmacy, journalism, mass communication, hotel management, etc. From the last two to three years we have also introduced courses like humanities, European studies, and philosophy. This year we are celebrating the diamond jubilee of medical studies at our university and we have introduced integrated learning. For example, there are different courses like antatomy, physiology or pathology. Through the new teaching-learning concept if somebody talks about a particular organ then what the structure will be, what are the functions and if something goes wrong then what must be the pathology and what kind of medicine has to be given. So all those things will be taken care immediately at the same time. In management courses, we have a lot of industry interactions, as it makes the course very interesting as well as fruitful.

How is your University addressing employability concerns?
We have introduced a concept called the Practice School. Under this, in the last semester of engineering programme there are no course-works and students to go to the industry and do projects. We also invite many industry people to be part of our faculty and that has also helped in bringing the industry and academia together. We also have sabbatical under which some of our faculty members go to the industry, they work there for about two or three months, and get an exposure to the industry working. We also invite members from the industry in our board of studies.

Please share with us your international collaborations. 
We have collaborations with nearly 100 foreign universities. These collaborations work at three levels. Firstly, the twinning programme, under which a  few engineering students study at our campus for two years and towards the end of the second year all the credits that they earned are transferred for a partner university. The students continue studies for the next two years in the partner university either in the US or the UK, Australia, etc. In engineering it is called a 2+2 programme and students get a degree from the foreign at University. Secondly, we dual degree programme designed for the post graduation engineering courses. For one year students study here and second year at the partner university. At the end of the programme they receive separate degrees from both the universities. Thirdly, we have general student exchange programme in which students go for some courses at foreign universities and spend between two to six weeks. These are called elective courses. This works the other way round as well and we also receive many students from abroad who come here for a semester and then go back. This has been a very active programme at our University for last four to five years. Apart from this, we also have faculty exchange. The faculty from our and partner university jointly writes research proposals and seeks funding. For example in the European Union, there are a lot of research funds available for research collaborations between a European University and a non-European University

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