Ashoka University

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Ashoka University
Established 2014[1]
Type Private
Endowment INR 500 Crore[2]
Students 330
Undergraduates 130
Postgraduates 200
Location Delhi NCR, Haryana, India
Campus 25 acres (10 ha) (Main campus)
Colors Ashoka University Red      & Ashoka University Blue     

Ashoka University is a fully residential university with a focus in the liberal arts, located in Kundli, Haryana, which falls under the National Capital Region (India).

The University is a collective philanthropic effort of over 40 renowned industry leaders, a list that includes education giants such as Pramath Raj Sinha, Founding Dean, Indian School of Business, Ashish Dhawan, CEO, Central Square Foundation, and Vineet Gupta, MD, Jamboree Education; internet tycoons such as Sanjeev Bikhchandani, Executive Vice-Chairman and MD, Info Edge (India), and Deep Kalra, Founder and CEO, Makemytrip; and other reputed names such as Dilip Shangvi, Founder and MD, Sun Pharmaceutical, Amit Chandra, MD, Bain Capital, and Jerry Rao of Mphasis and Value and Budget Housing Corporation fame.[3]

Ashoka University was formally inaugurated by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi on Jan 31 st 2015.

Two of India’s most eminent scholars form the University’s highest academic leadership. Historian and author Rudrangshu Mukherjee, who was most recently Editor, The Editorial Pages, of The Telegraph, has been appointed Vice-Chancellor. Andre Beteille, renowned sociologist and Padma Bhushan awardee, termed the ‘Wisest Man in India’ by Ramachandra Guha, is the Chancellor.[4] Guha himself, along with other eminent names such as Kaushik Basu, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Supriya Chaudhuri, Sunil Khilnani and A.K. Shiva Kumar are some of the academics who are part of the advisory board in academic matters.[5]

Ashoka is notified as a private university under the Haryana Private Universities Act of 2006, with full power to award its own degrees, diplomas and doctorates. It is set to commence with its first undergraduate batch with 350 students in August 2014[6] at a 25-acre campus, which is one of the twelve that are part of the Rajiv Gandhi Education City, Sonipat in Sonepat district, Haryana.[1]

Leadership and Administration[edit]

Ashoka University is unique in the fact that it is funded entirely by donations, with no hierarchies present in the founding group in terms of decision making. The group presently includes 40 renowned self-made entrepreneurs and industry leaders.[7]

In terms of the academic leadership, in addition to the archetypal Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor and Deans, comprises an advisory board of eminent academics and scholars from around the world as part of an academic council. The Council sets the academic standard of the University, advising on matters of curriculum, faculty hiring and research.[8]

Academic Council[edit]

In alphabetical order:

The presence of leading academics from partner universities on the advisory board serves to qualify the University’s claims to have the support of these institutions in the development of its academic curriculum, faculty hiring, setting up of academic departments, etc.[10]


Ashoka University collaborates with renowned institutions around the world, drawing on their vast experience to develop its curriculum and practices. It is also believed that these established institutions stand to gain from the innovative practices that are unique to Ashoka University. In that sense the partnership goes both ways, promoting student and faculty exchange, offering scope for collaborative work between the institutions.

As of now, Ashoka University has active partnerships in place with:

Official communication states that the University is also in talks with Yale University, University of Oxford for partnership in the future. Its illustrious list of partners has been the subject of a lot of media attention, as it is felt to be commendable for a university in its year of inception.[18]

History and Vision[edit]

The concept of Ashoka University first featured in a conversation between friends and IIT Delhi alumni Rakesh Jaggi, Senior Vice-President, Schlumberger, and Ashish Gupta, COO, Evalueserve, along with Sinha, Dhawan, Bikhchandani and Vineet Gupta (also an IIT Delhi alumnus), whose brother Pranav Gupta, MD, Parabolic Drugs, was soon to join the project.[19]

Interesting to note is that their initial discussions leaned towards setting up an institute of engineering and technology that could perhaps match the reputation of leading institutions in the field such as MIT, Penn and Stanford. This, in fact, led the Ashoka initiative to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Penn.

The conversation was to, however, take a turn towards conceptualizing an institution that would actually go on to focus not on engineering and other vocational disciplines, but rather have a bent towards the core sciences, social sciences and the humanities, or what is popularly called the ‘liberal arts’.[20] This decision finds its rationale in both industry need, as well as the need to change the mindsets of Indian students and parents to see education as an end in itself, rather than merely as a stepping stone to securing a job.[21]

It was then decided that Ashoka University will offer a liberal education,[22] nurturing core 21st century skills of critical thinking, communication and leadership, also promoting interdisciplinary education and advanced research in the humanities, social sciences, and the natural and applied sciences.

Young India Fellowship: The Flagship Programme[edit]

This form of education was prototyped in the Young India Fellowship, a full-time academic programme that was launched in 2011 with a vision “to develop committed change agents for India through a multi-disciplinary programme guided by eminent scholars and leaders of our time.”[23] The founding batch had 57 Fellows, all of whom were provided full scholarship. Fellows included graduates and professionals from all walks of life, from engineers to English majors, doctors and design students, to lawyers and social workers.[24]

The one-year programme comprises eight terms of six weeks each, with up to three courses in each term. An emphasis on writing, research, and experiential learning – in form of an 8-month part-time internship – aims to enable graduates to become self-sufficient, self-aware and socially responsible citizens who can function as leaders in society.[25]

Courses are taught by faculty from renowned institutions around the world. Classroom learning and discussion is augmented by guest lectures by inspiring people from both academia and industry, a list that includes names from the University’s Academic Council, Founders and Trustees, network of Mentors, and other illustrious names such as Nandan Nilekani, Prannoy Roy, Madeleine Albright, Shaheen Mistry, Arjun Uppal and Mihir Shah.[26] These sessions also prove to be excellent opportunities for students to seek mentorship and guidance in their many career decisions in the future.

The success of graduates in each batch of the YIF has served to increase the popularity of the programme in its subsequent years.[27] With about a hundred Fellows each in the second and third batches, the YIF now boasts 200 Fellows in its most recent and fourth batch whose classes are conducted, for the first time, at the newly constructed University campus.


The 25-acre campus of Ashoka University will come up at the Rajiv Gandhi Education city in Sonepat, Haryana. The campus is being designed by renowned American design firm, Perkins Eastman.[28]

Current Status[edit]

Haryana Cabinet, under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, on 29 January 2014, approved the ordinance for setting up of Ashoka University. The University will begin functioning from the monsoon semester of 2014.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Ashoka University". Ashoka University. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  2. ^ As of 14 February 2014. "Ashish Dhawan to raise Rs. 400 Crore for Ashoka University". LiveMint & The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 9, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Ashoka University". Ashoka University. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  4. ^ "Ashoka University". The Hindu. Retrieved 2005-12-04. 
  5. ^ "Ashoka University". Times of India. Retrieved 2014-07-05. 
  6. ^ "Ashoka University". The Economic Times. Retrieved 2014-08-02. 
  7. ^ "Ashoka University". Ashoka University website. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  8. ^ "Ashoka University". Ashoka University website. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  9. ^ "Andre Beteille appointed Ashoka University Chancellor". The Times of India. Retrieved 2014-07-05. 
  10. ^ "Ashoka University's Academic Council". Ashoka University website. Retrieved 2014-07-05. 
  11. ^ "B.Sc. (Hons) in Computer Science at Ashoka University, developed in collaboration with the Department of Computer and Information Science, Penn". Ashoka University website. Retrieved 2014-07-05. 
  12. ^ "French University extends tie-ups with India". The Hindu Business Line. Retrieved 2014-02-18. 
  13. ^ "Ashoka University inks MoU with University of Michigan". The Hindu Business Line. Retrieved 2014-11-13. 
  14. ^ "King's College plans tie-ups with Indian institutes". The Hindu. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "A New University Offers Liberal Arts as Higher Education Alternative". The New York Times India Ink. Retrieved 2014-11-26. 
  19. ^ "Ashoka University". The Hindu Business Line. Retrieved 2014-04-07. 
  20. ^ "Ashoka University". Ashoka University. Retrieved 2014-08-07. 
  21. ^ "Ashoka University". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 2013-12-26. 
  22. ^ "Ashoka University". Ashoka University. Retrieved 2014-08-07. 
  23. ^ "Young India Fellowship". Ashoka University. Retrieved 2014-08-07. 
  24. ^ "Young India Fellowship". Ashoka University. Retrieved 2014-08-07. 
  25. ^ "Young India Fellowship". Ashoka University. Retrieved 2014-08-07. 
  26. ^ "Young India Fellowship". Ashoka University. Retrieved 2014-08-07. 
  27. ^ "Young India Fellowship". Ashoka University. Retrieved 2014-08-07. 
  28. ^ Campus

Coordinates: 28°56′48″N 77°06′06″E / 28.9468°N 77.1016°E / 28.9468; 77.1016