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South Asian Students Coming Closer under South Asian University

Online Desk | August 18, 2013
South Asian University of SAARC

South Asian University of SAARC

Just three years into its creation with the aim of bringing South Asian nations closer, South Asian University (SAU) has already become the centre of cultural and mutual understanding of the regional countries. Many now go as far as to claim that the establishment of the university is the best decision the SAARC has ever taken.

India and Pakistan are said to be the most rivaling neighbours in the world. Tension runs high on the border all the time, but on the quite campus of SAU in Delhi students of these two countries do something that is quite unheard of - celebrate their respective Independence Day together. And it has become an annual affair.

So is the case of Mother Language Day celebration, in which students from all the SAARC countries bring together a diverse culture and tradition of different nations and creeds into one stage.

With regional cooperation in its core, the university's hostel policy is also quite interesting students from the same country are not allowed to stay in the same room. "I have seen students who initially resisted the idea, shedding tears when they had to say goodbye to their roommates at the end of the course," said Aheibam Prahlad, public relation officer of SAU.

Established by the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) in 2010, SAU is the only university that can boast of having students, faculty members and non-faculty personnel from all eight member nations (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan and the Maldives).

"We not only aim to provide international-level education, but also ensure that our students have a better understanding of the region, its culture, rich resources," said University President G. K. Chadha. "In an environment of globalisation, this university aims to raise the voice of the nations in South Asia at international platforms."

This year SAU has launched a new mandatory course titled 'Introduction to South Asia', which Chadha says, "will provide a detailed study of all the SAARC countries, and this is why many universities are now waiting to see how this course develops at our university and how it shapes the understanding of our young graduates of the commonality of our life, culture, economic developments and emerging challenges."

SAU, at present housed in a government building in south Delhi, has about 400 hundred students and 143 students of its first batch have passed out this year. Professor AK Azad Chowdhury, chairman of University Grant Commission of Bangladesh and also outgoing chairman of SAU's Board of governors, put the number of Bangladeshi students currently studying there at more than one hundred, including about 70 students admitted there this year.

He said that the number of Bangladeshi students applying for admission to the university is rising year by year. Besides, two students from Bangladesh jointly topped the LLM Program results and are the recipients of the newly instituted SAU Gold Medal.

Rubaiyat Rahman, a student from Bangladesh, said in an email: "We, the students of eight countries, have very close understanding here. Aside from academic activities, we exchange views and experiences regarding various issues of South Asia."

The university's academic curriculum is also devised in line with the broader regional perspective. Such as law students of the university have to study law of each South Asian countries, not only of a particular country where she/he is from. Aside from law, courses like economics, language, politics and history are also taught in the context of the whole region.

The SAARC came into being in 1985 to forge close ties among South Asian nations. But in this long 28 years of its creation, many initiatives and decisions taken by the body has never seen light. But the creation of this university for the students of this region is viewed as the best initiative of SAARC.

Professor AK Azad Chowdhury said: "The SAU was established to bridge the gap among the people of different countries of South Asia, and thus it is now fostering closer relation among the nations of this region." He further said: "The progress SAU made in this short period of time is truly inspirational and I hope it will become a world-class university very soon."

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh first mooted the idea of establishing a regional university at the 13th SAARC summit in Dhaka in 2005. Two years later, an agreement to this end was signed by all eight member countries in New Delhi.

The university opened its doors in August 2010, offering master's programs in Computer Applications and Development Economics. Five more departments were added in July 2011: Biotechnology, Computer Science, Sociology, International Relations, and Law.

This year SAU introduced PhD programs in seven disciplines. Ultimately, it aspires to have 11 post graduate and research faculties and a faculty of undergraduate studies. At full strength, the university whose campus is being constructed at Maidan Garhi in New Delhi will have about 7000 students.

Under the seat-sharing system, Indian students are allowed 50 percent of the seats. While 10 percent share goes to Bangladesh and Pakistan each; 10 percent seats are of non-SAARC country students, and four percent each is the share of Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan, the Maldives and Bhutan.

The operational cost of the university is shared by SAARC countries. India has the highest 54 percent share, Pakistan has the second largest share of nearly nine percent, Bangladesh has five percent and the smaller countries contribute around 2.5 percent each.

Admission process

SAU usually announces admission in the month of March. Every year, it conducts SAARC wide entrance test in all the major cities in South Asia. In Bangladesh the UGC conducts the admission test. This year the entrance test was held in Dhaka and Chittagong. The university has nodal point of contact in the two locations in Bangladesh.

While admission to Master's programs is based on the entrance test, PhD aspirants have to go through presentation of thesis proposal and personal interview as well. Once selected, students from SAARC countries get a special multiple entry visa called SAU visa.

Application costs can be submitted through internet banking like credit card or a debit card. Besides, students who do not have access to internet banking can still apply through offline mode by downloading the application forms from the university website.

For students, the cost of study and living expenses at SAU is comparatively low. For instance, the admission fee is $100 and the tuition is $440 per semester. In addition, students also have to pay a refundable security deposit of $100.

Scholarship

There are three main categories under which the university students get scholarships - President's Scholarship, Silver Jubilee Scholarship and SAU Scholarship and Financial Support. And proportion of students who receive scholarship is nothing short of generous.

In this academic year, as many as 256 students out of 260 students who applied for the scholarship program have been awarded scholarships and financial support of various kinds.

"The university inculcates the sense of regional consciousness. It is all about cultivating a culture where the young minds of South Asia are encouraged to think from the perspective of the region as a whole. So a Pakistani or a Bangladeshi becomes a South Asian when they come to South Asian University," said Aheibam Prahlad.

Courtesy : Daily Sunশিক্ষা সংক্রান্ত খবরাখবর নিয়মিত পেতে রেজিস্ট্রেশন করুন অথবা Log In করুন।

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