Monday, April 25, 2011

Students performing at Talents Day 2011. Photo by Sambhram Pattanayak
As the music and colour on stage during Talents Day 2011 had the crowds enthralled, our blog reporter Zainab Das got an opportunity, to interview Dr. B. Ramjee. Director, Manipal University Dubai about the new campus, new facilities, courses and what is in store for students in the new academic year. Here is an excerpt of the interview below:

Zainab: Sir, every year talents day programme is being held in a hired auditorium, can we look forward to the next one in our own auditorium campus?  

Dr. B. Ramjee, Director,
Manipal University Dubai
Dr. Ramjee: Yes, we will be having an Auditorium. It is designed as a multipurpose auditorium, where we expect to use it for a variety of programmes. And yes, the next Talent’s Day will be held in our own auditorium.

Zainab: Our readers are curious about the upcoming new campus – what can you share with us?
Dr. Ramjee: The new Manipal University Dubai campus is going to be a state of the art facility. There are going to be fully equipped and spacious departmental laboratories where the students can harness their potential. We are not only expanding existing facilities but building new capacities for the recently established Departments like that off Engineering and Media. The new infrastructure is designed to provide a holistic range of training from freshmen through post graduates alike. In the past we have had to hire some of these facilities for our students, whereas the new campus comes to us with an assurance of self-sufficiency.
Zainab: Talking of facilities – what can a student look forward to at the new campus?
Dr. Ramjee: The new campus provides and focuses on an ‘open and free learning space’ for students. The university has always encouraged and supported students to be part of extracurricular activities. There is an outdoor playground earmarked for different activities. Also, in progress is a running track and courts for racquet sports enthusiasts. Two separate gyms are also in offing (one for men and one for women) which will be situated on two different floors.
An expanded library with more books and services is in its final stages of construction. We have, in fact, also accounted for student common area and locker facilities.
Zainab: The new campus is quite a distance from the present food court; will there be an alternative arrangement for students?
Artist impression: Manipal University Dubai Campus
Dr. Ramjee: Of course, it is going to be a long walk especially in the summer if we expect our students to walk all the way to the present food court area. We are setting up a cafeteria capable of catering to 250 students at given time within the campus.
Zainab: Presently our hostels are located off campus; shouldn’t we also be constructing hostels to facilitate hostelites on campus?
Dr. Ramjee: I am glad that you have brought up this subject. It is my personal view, that often a student land up wasting valuable time negotiating traffic between hostel and his/her university. Keeping this in mind we have envisaged a residence hall facility, which is slated to become fully functional by the start of next year. It is designed to accommodate around 800 students. Presently we are working towards providing on campus enhanced medical services including ambulance services to deal with any untoward emergency.
Zainab: Are there any new courses being introduced in the next scholastic year?
Dr. Ramjee: The Department of Fashion Design is being reintroduced this year and will be taking in students. We are also introducing an option for students to enrol for a PhD in Biotechnology. We have and will continue to examine the inclusion of other courses.
Zainab: Does a new campus mean a new change in syllabus, pedagogy or accreditation?
Dr. Ramjee: A new campus cannot be and should be linked to a new syllabus or new pedagogy, or for that matter even new ideology. These elements are integral parts of any educational programme. Of course all universities revise and update their curriculum in tune with changing times, technology, discoveries but these should not be confused as change in affiliation or ideology.   
We have never sought and will never seek accreditation because we know the value of our “Indian Degree” and we have a reputation which has evolved over five decades. I would like to reiterate that ‘We have and always will provide a degree issued from Manipal University India’.
We are and wish to continue to function under the aegis of DIAC (Dubai International Academic City) and the KHDA (Knowledge and Human Development Authority). We are highly appreciative of our partnership with them, which has blossomed and matured over many years.
At this point, I would like to emphasize that this is not the first campus that the parent university is building. We have a collective experience of having designed and executed campuses world over. So this campus that you see coming up is not just not brick and mortar but is an essence of our experience in providing infrastructure for higher education.
Students, parents and faculty enjoying Talents Day 2011
Photo by Sambhram Pattanayak
Zainab: I know that you want to get back to enjoying some of the wonderful performances being put up by our talented student community. However, on a closing note I have one last question. With exams around the corner and final project deadlines looming large, what advice would you offer our readers?
Dr. Ramjee: All I would like to say is, work hard, play hard and enjoy life. It should be remembered as a cardinal rule of life. Good Luck and my best wishes to the blog readers.

~ A Report by Zainab Das