Tech-driven and creative education took a leap forward in India with the launch of HSNC University in Mumbai, Maharashtra’s second cluster university. Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari inaugurated the novel venture via teleconferencing in the online presence of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Uday Samant, Minister of Higher and Technical Education, senior officials and eminent academicians on June 11.

Mumbai’s three leading colleges, KC College, HR College and Bombay Teachers’ Training College, part of the 70-year-old Hyderabad (Sind) National Collegiate Board (H(S)NCB), had joined hands to form ‘HSNC University’, the first cluster university set up in the state by a private entity.

“HSNC University will offer an environment that fosters competitiveness, creative thinking and innovation which will play a lead role in revamping the system of education from a conventional program to a more dynamic one,” noted Dr Niranjan Hiranandani, Provost, HSNC University.

“It is time to take a historic step together, towards our new HSNC University. Today, we have Industry 4.0, Health 4.0, all using internet-based technology and it is time for us to bring in this advancement in education. And that is the path HSNC University will tread on, Education 4.0,” said the visionary educationist, renowned entrepreneur, President of ASSOCHAM & NAREDCO.

Uddhav Thackeray hailed the new University as a dream project and emphasised that a blend of art and culture with new-age education systems will revolutionise it further. He added that the university will set a new norm of uninterrupted education that will go on even in challenging times. Education minister, Uday Samant, advocated the need for a tech-driven university which will help students keep pace with the future.

The HSNC University aims to promote skill development, and will include courses such as dance, music and yoga, for which the students will get course credits with an option to avail e-certificates. A dedicated ‘Incubation Centre’  will help students’ liaison with associations, and self-learning modules in the curriculum will enable them to score marks.

In a Digital – First approach, the new university will bring digitisation of operations, including registrations, enrolments and examinations among others. It will aim for a rapid evaluation system with results being declared within 30 days of completion of examinations and will also create e-content on self-learning, promote virtual laboratories and online teaching platforms.

“A cluster university is a step in the right direction to steer India towards greater global academic standards and eventually towards economic independence. It will open up the curriculum reforms and bring in greater autonomy in the designing of the syllabi,” said Dr Hiranandani, the man responsible for transforming the skyline of Mumbai. “Companies will come to seek our students for they will be synchronised with the needs of the industry. Our students will have no dearth of job opportunities.”

Admission at the HSNC for 2nd and 3rd year of graduation courses will begin soon. Admission of 1st-year students will be accepted after the declaration of Class XII results.

Dr Hiranandani observed: “We will do things in phases. The students will have the liberty to complete courses at their own pace. Instead of putting pressure of final-year exams on students, we will be opting for continuous assessment tests, seminars and certificate courses.”  The university has announced courses for people of all ages.

The idea of a cluster university was a radical initiative by RUSA, Rashtriya Uchater Shikshan Abhyan, (an apex body under the Union Ministry of Human Resources and state government) to overcome the lacunae in the existing university system. The institutes that form a cluster university are usually located close to one another.

Unlike the traditional universities that offer courses divided by disciplines, cluster universities create integrated courses that give students options across disciplines – science, economics, commerce and humanities. Welcome to Education 4.0!