When our founders conceived NIIT University (NU) as a university with a difference, they decided to adopt a student-centric approach in conducting the affairs of the university by giving students a voice in decision-making at all levels and on all issues from academics to campus life to even pedagogical matters. The aim is to teach students what ‘responsible decision making’ means – how to look at issues in an objective manner and make a balanced judgement.
- Student Advisory Body: Appointed by NU’s President at the beginning of every academic year, the Student Advisory Body comprises around 25 students drawn from all programmes and years, including students who are Hostel Captains, Sports Captains and Mr and Ms NUton of the year. At regular meetings with the President, the Student Advisory Body shares feedback on issues pertaining to academics or campus life and offers suggestions and new ideas for improvement on every aspect of the university’s functioning. These ideas are documented and acted upon by the appropriate unit. The impact of the actions as perceived by the students is discussed at the next meeting.
- Student Affairs Committee: The Dean, Student Affairs, has a Student Affairs Committee comprising ~60 students drawn from across all programmes and years. The student body shares its views and experience on the university’s various matters with the Dean. Any change is implemented after a healthy exchange of views between the two. For instance, the Dean takes decisions on things like hostel in/out times, university in/out times and outings jointly in consultation with the students.
- Academic Council: This is the highest executive body on all matters of academic policy at NU. The student community is represented on it through two members, which gives students a say on all academic matters.
- Mess Committee: The Mess Committee, which oversees the management of the mess, is largely made up of student members, who are the voice of their peers. Students, faculty and the mess in-charge together decide on the daily menu, festival menus, and special food preferences during special occasions. Moreover, students take joint responsibility for laying down processes and standards governing food quality such as on nutrition and hygiene.
- Anti-Ragging Committee: This committee has two student representatives, who work to prevent ragging.
- Internal Complaint Committee: There are two student members on this committee to give voice to student issues.
- Student Benevolent Fund Committee: The primary aim of the Students’ Benevolent Fund is to provide aid to needy and meritorious students. The two student members on this committee ensure that the students’ voice is heard, and their concerns addressed while taking decisions on spends.
- NU Newsletter Editorial Board: This is run primarily by students, as is evident from their prolific output of articles and poems in NU Newsletter aNUkriti.
Apart from giving them representation on key committees, NU empowers students in other ways as well.
For instance, NU’s Peer-to-Peer Learning programme encourages students to help their peers in their coursework.
Students are also actively involved in pedagogical matters. They play a catalytic role as Teaching Assistants (TAs), working closely with faculty, assisting them in identifying relevant content for a course as well as on its effective delivery and assessment.
This is both enriching and rewarding because:
- Students are technologically savvy, and their skills can be utilised to enhance technology integration in the teaching-learning process.
- They take the initiative to enrol themselves in Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs); their experience can be leveraged to prepare multimedia course material for online-delivery (MOOC) of the course they are teaching
- Their energy and motivation can be leveraged to modernise teaching-learning processes (TLP) by introducing industry-linked project-based learning (PBL) in various courses, or by incorporating the use of learning resources available on the Net
- The university has direct insight into student-learners’ issues from the students themselves if they are associated with teaching courses
- Student-learners are uninhibited in learning from their peers; so, TAs can raise students’ academic performance by using differentiated instruction/assessments
Students are also engaged in implementing pedagogical innovations and other initiatives through the Centre of Excellence in Educational Technology (CoEET), which was set up as a special centre by NU. CoEET is a student-run body responsible for the planning, coordination and execution of all edtech projects at NU. It enables students to take charge of their own learning.
Since 2017, in fact, many of the students’ industry-linked projects have centred around edtech innovations. This is best demonstrated in the Learning Premier Leagues in advanced domains such as nanotechnology, renewable energy and space exploration as well as in the vertical integration of learning through Math-Machine Learning PBLs, to name a few.
Apart from this, the university has a strong buddy mentoring system which begins from NU’s unique orientation programme, Resonance. Senior students take responsibility for helping first-year students make the transition from school to college and from home to campus. This has resulted in many enduring friendships for life – and successful start-ups as well.
Management and entrepreneurship
Students organise NU’s three university-wide events – IngeNUity, NU’s cultural festival; siNUsoid, the NU technology festival; and TEDx – entirely on their own. They pick up organisational skills, time management, teamwork, how to solve problems in real-time, and how to take on the responsibility of managing an event – this includes securing sponsorships and managing the festival budget.
NU also empowers students to deploy their entrepreneurial abilities on campus. Read on to know how hunger pangs sparked a very successful student-led venture on campus.
Don’t hangry me!
It was a typical evening during examination week. The otherwise bursting-with-inexhaustible-energy campus had taken a breather. Nights had turned busier than the days. The usually deserted library was bursting at the seams. Maggi noodles was once again the staple food for all those odd hours when the mess was shut.
A group of young management students weren’t happy with the state of affairs though. They wanted a 24×7 hot beverage facility. Now, when NUtons get angry, they turn their emotions into a positive force to bring about change. As did these students. The change they wanted was for the university, after all, and not for themselves alone.
So, as soon as the exams got over, the group drew up a robust business plan. Their idea was converted into a project – they were management students, after all! They proposed to launch an all-night café run by NUtons on campus. All they required was a small space and permission from the university authorities.
No sooner asked than permission given. In keeping with NU’s legacy and ethos of nurturing innovation and entrepreneurship, their proposal was accepted at once. The result? Tera Mera Point, a night café of, for and by the students.
The venture was such an instant success that the café quickly expanded its menu of four-five easy-to-cook dishes to dish up a smorgasbord of varied fare. The students ensured that they monitored both quality and price.
Tera Mera Point was born way back in 2014, but still continues to function with the same zest and quality. The café uses its profits to fund student activities on campus. So, the next time you have a craving for a piping hot bowl of Maggi noodles accompanied by a melted cheese sandwich and steaming hot tea in the middle of the night, you know where to head – without straining your pockets at that.