Ashoka University

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Ashoka University
ChancellorRudrangshu Mukherjee
Vice-ChancellorMalabika Sarkar
Location, ,
Campus25 acres (10 ha) (Main campus)
ColorsAshoka University Red      , Ashoka University Blue     
AffiliationsUGC; ACU[1]
Ashoka University logo with wordmark.png

Ashoka University is a private research university with a focus on liberal arts, located in Sonipat, Haryana, India. The university is recognized by the University Grants Commission (UGC), the Government of India and the Government of Haryana.


The concept of Ashoka University first began in talks between a group of IIT Delhi graduates. They later approached former ISB dean Pramath Sinha for help in setting up a university that would be of a different calibre than that of present higher education in India. The project was code named Project Nobel, referring to the founders' aspiration to produce future Nobel Prize laureates. At the same time, Sanjeev Bikhchandani and Ashish Dhawan also approached Pramath with a vision of a university, and Pramath combined the two visions together.[2]

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, the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford University. Ashoka's founders consequently signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science. The founders list included 22 people including Ashok Trivedi, Dilip Shanghvi, Nirmal Jain, Sanjeev Bikhchandani and Jerry Rao.[3][4]

Ashoka's concept, however, shifted from an engineering and technology focus to a liberal arts approach, providing instruction in the core sciences, social sciences, and the humanities.[5][6] The decision was inspired by both industry demand, as well as a desire 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.[7] Ashok Trivedi fortified this decision by setting up the Ashok Trivedi Centre for Political Data (TCPD) in partnership with the University of Michigan.[8] TCPD helps build datasets and authoritative knowledge on India’s political life and diffuses the same through an open access platform.[9]


Ashoka University is funded entirely by donations, with no hierarchies present in the founding group in terms of decision making. The group includes over 70 entrepreneurs and industry leaders.[10]

The founders were drawn to the idea of a university where no single individual held sway, but whose administration would be driven by the potential for social change based on critical inquiry, free from political pressure.[11] In addition to the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor and Deans, Ashoka is guided by an academic council of academics and scholars from around the world. The Council sets the academic standard of the University, advising on matters of curriculum, faculty hiring and research.[12]


Undergraduate programme[edit]

Ashoka University offers a full-time residential multidisciplinary 3 (+ 1) year undergraduate programme. Students are encouraged to extend 1 more year after the standard 3 year and remain in the campus and do a further in-depth research in their chosen major under the guidance of a faculty member and complete the standard 4 year university education, which many universities abroad require to admit students to their Doctoral Research Programmes. The university's first class, inducted in 2014, graduated in May 2017. It consisted of approximately 120 students.

The admission procedure includes an application form, an on-spot essay, an interview, and an aptitude objective test (optional). During the admission of students into the UG programme of Ashoka University, students are not required to declare their major and may experiment with their course preferences. Only after the third semester, the University requires students to declare their majors.

Young India Fellowship[edit]

The Young India Fellowship is a one-year postgraduate programme that was launched in 2011 with a vision "To create a global fellowship by nurturing a pool of talented young individuals and prepare them to think critically, communicate effectively and become leaders with a commitment to public service."[13] Its first graduating class included 57 Fellows, all of whom were provided a full scholarship.[14] The programme comprises eight terms of six weeks each, with up to three courses in each term. The Fellowship emphasizes writing, research, and experiential learning – in the form of an 8-month part-time Experiential Learning Module .[15]. The application for the fellowship has an age restriction and it only allows students with maximum 28 years of age to apply for the program.[16].


Ashoka University practices so-called holistic review of applicants, meaning that a variety of factors are considered within the context of the background of the applicant, balancing institutional goals for the student body. Factors Ashoka considers include secondary school record, standardized tests, an essay, and personal interview. Ashoka has its own admissions test, called the Ashoka Aptitude Test. It also accepts and encourages the SAT from domestic applicants, one of the first universities in India to do so. Students are welcome to take either test without prejudice.[17] Ashoka University is a Founding Member institution of the India Global Higher Education Alliance, which addresses how admissions policies among Indian and non-Indian institutions influence access and equity in higher education.[18]


The 25-acre campus of Ashoka University is in the Rajiv Gandhi Education City in Sonepat, Haryana. The campus has been designed by American design firm, Perkins Eastman led by architect Aaron Schwarz.[19]

Notable faculty[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Association of Commonwealth Universities Membars-Asia". Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  2. ^ "Ashoka, India's first liberal arts university, to open in August". The Hindu Business Line. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  3. ^ Sengupta, Devina (15 April 2014). "Dilip Shanghvi, Nirmal Jain, others line up to back Ashoka University". Retrieved 27 April 2018 – via Economic Times.
  4. ^ University, Ashoka. "Ashoka University celebrates Founders' Day". Ashoka University. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  5. ^ "Ashoka University". Ashoka University. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  6. ^ "Ashoka University: India's answer to the Ivy League, promises 'world-class' liberal arts education". Economic Times. 11 May 2014.
  7. ^ "47% of Graduates of 2013 Unemployable for Any Job: Study". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
  8. ^ Khosla, Varuni (8 March 2016). "Ashoka University, Michigan University partner to set up Ashok Trivedi Centre for Political Data". The Economic Times. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  9. ^ "Ashoka University's TCPD Governing Body". Ashoka University. Archived from the original on 28 June 2018. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  10. ^ "Ashoka University". Ashoka University website. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
  11. ^ "Ivy League, Indian-style". Financial Times, UK. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  12. ^ "Ashoka University". Ashoka University website. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
  13. ^ "Young India Fellowship" (PDF). Ashoka University. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
  14. ^ "Young India Fellowship". Ashoka University. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  15. ^ "Young India Fellowship" (PDF). Ashoka University. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
  16. ^ "Young India Fellowship". Ashoka University. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  17. ^ "Ashoka University". Ashoka University website. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  18. ^ "India Global Higher Education Alliance". College Board. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  19. ^ "Ashoka University". Perkins Eastman. Retrieved 27 December 2018.

External links[edit]

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