Dr. Ashok K Chitkara
Chancellor – Chitkara University, Chandigarh
Q What is the differentiator at Chitkara University, in what way does it empower students?
Chitkara University’s logo, Explore Your Potential is the biggest differentiator in itself and it empowers the students to a large extent. If you look at our logo, you can see 3 arrows going in the upward direction, one arrow is for the students, one for faculty and the last arrow is for the stakeholders that include the society, industry, and parents. Hence, we all work in liaison with each other so as to achieve our first and foremost objective, i.e. providing the best quality education to our students and this is the major factor that probably makes us different.
From the day our students enter the university, they are motivated to excel not only in academics but also in other areas. We try our best to provide them with the best of the environment so that they can explore their potential to the fullest and hence, achieve phenomenal success in every area of their lives.
Q The universities in India are putting emphasis on research. What as per you is the scope for progressive research in India?
In India, the need of applied research is ever increasing. In my opinion, there is an urgent need to link research with its application for uplifting the quality of life of common men. This should start with carefully selecting the research problem and linking it with the purpose of improving environment, water and air quality in particular. All research efforts should be directed to reduce carbon footprint and ways of efficiently utilizing or minimizing the natural resources and maintaining the food chain and its balance. And I can assure that all the efforts in research areas of Law, Medical and Allied Areas, Economics, Management, Science and Technology can be redirected towards the same.
Q How do you perceive the contribution of industry to the progress of education? At what levels can collaboration be done?
Industry has an extremely important contribution for the progress of education. What is needed currently in the industry becomes the ground for the education stakeholders to plan all their activities around it. During these fast moving times, changes happen very frequently. Technology changes so fast that in a few years, it becomes redundant. It is the industry that predicts and guides us for such changes and the need to adapt them. Industry is needed at every stage, right from the point of developing curriculum, delivering of programs till the execution of learning outcomes hence, collaboration is required from beginning till the end.
Q How important is it to develop college students as socially responsible citizens and how can this be achieved?
It is very important to develop college students as socially responsible citizens and this can be done by making them sensitized towards the needs of the society. Along with providing the best education, we have always had the desire to do something for those who were not very privileged. We have adopted five villages in Punjab and one in Himachal Pradesh through National Service Scheme (NSS), and through this, free education is provided to the children and various opportunities for employment are provided to adults. Women are involved in different activities that have helped them become financially self-sufficient. We also provide health awareness programs in addition to extending health facilities to the villagers. A computer center has also been established in one of the adopted villages in order to create awareness amongst the residents about the latest technologies. We really believe in total commitment to society, as our major focus is to constantly make the lives of people better by uplifting them in every possible way. In addition to this, Chitkara University runs its own Community Radio by the name of Chitkara 107.8 FM. The Community Radio is completely managed by the students of Chitkara University, and is a great way to engage the community. During these unprecedented times of Covid also, we have been doing various activities as a part of CSR to help the community in need. Our students get engaged in these various activities and hence, they become socially responsible by doing such extraordinary work.
Q As a member of esteemed entities for educational progress, what do you think about the steps taken to take the Indian education system to the international levels?
It is very imperative to bring about internationalization in the Indian Education system and hence, for this, we at Chitkara University, have built a strong network with 160 Universities and Institutions all across the globe covering USA, UK, France, Germany, China, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia, and many more to make the students globally acceptable and capable. Every year we also organize an event, Global Week, that is a proven mode of internationalizing the learning experiences of our students. During the Global Week, we regularly invite faculty from accredited Institutions across the world and it helps our students to understand diverse education standards. We believe to make an International University in India by providing International Facilities to the students. It is a matter of immense honor for us that Chitkara University has strong associations for faculty and student academic exchange with top education providers across the world.
Q What skills do students need to make a mark as professionals in the future?
As the world is constantly changing and we are living in a modern era of fast paced development, students need to have a strong skill set to make their mark as successful professionals. I believe that to remain competitive in the future job market, the main skills that students must acquire are good communication skills, strong leadership qualities, analytical and critical thinking, entrepreneurship ability and thinking, empathy, resilience. Along with all these skills, one of the most important skills required specially these days is digital literacy and competence. During these Covid times, when all the work has shifted to online systems, it is very important for students to keep themselves abreast with the latest digital technology so that they can set themselves well in this digital world. The world is changing and all of us have to adapt. The youth will decide our future and we have to prepare them for what’s coming.
Q How fair do you think is the accreditation and ranking system for colleges in India?
We are all aware that Accreditation ensures that the educational programs offered by the educational institutions have attained a level that meets or exceeds standards that were developed by experts in the field and rankings are considered as reliable sources to help encourage the collection and publication of reliable national data in higher education. And we, at Chitkara University trust in these systems and totally comply with them so that there is education excellence in all the programs and initiatives that we offer. We take utmost care in ensuring that our processes and methods comply with all the rules and regulations set in for the higher educational institutions. Hence, Chitkara University, time-to-time promotes measures for institutional functioning towards quality enhancement through internalization of quality culture and institutionalization of best practices. We are extremely proud to share that Chitkara University has achieved some phenomenal rankings out of which recently Chitkara University becomes the first university in India to have been awarded the coveted ‘Platinum’ rating by QS IGAUGE, a comprehensive and independent rating system for India’s universities and colleges. We have also been listed in ‘Tech100 Higher Education Institutes of India’ by APAC News Network. Chitkara University was ranked in the 151–200 band among universities in India by the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) in the year 2020. Throughout its illustrious journey of providing an exceptional educational experience designed to help students, it is a matter of immense honor for us to share that Chitkara University has achieved numerous other milestones. Therefore, we totally trust in the Ranking and Accreditation systems followed in India and are doing our best to follow them and achieve the best for our university.
Q How does international collaboration help Indian universities? Are there any roadblocks to such a partnership?
Through international collaborations, we are able to enhance our reach to more diverse range of students and faculty. Experienced professors from International Universities are guiding students and faculty on projects, joint Ph.D. and also offering internship opportunities to Indian students. Also, some International Universities need partners in India to receive funding from Europe under Erasmus funded projects and this helps partner institutions to build infrastructure with the money received from Erasmus funding. International collaborations also help in organizing joint International Conferences and two-way faculty mobility.
Q What’s your motto that you would like to share with students at large?
My biggest motto in life is, “Chase excellence, success will follow.” If you are determined to do your best in life, there is no one or nothing that can stop you from achieving the life of your dreams and goals. I am a firm believer of doing the best that I do and hence, I would suggest our students, our youth that whatever they want to do in life, they must do it with utmost passion and dedication. If you do what you do with all your might and heart, you are bound to achieve phenomenal success in life. So, always make the most of it and live an extraordinary life.