Eminence & excellence

Manipal Academy of Higher Education is India’s first private, multidisciplinary, multi-college deemed university and offers 290 programmes in 22 disciplines under one umbrella.

Published : Jan 31, 2020 07:00 IST

Dr T.M.A. Pai.

Dr T.M.A. Pai.

Tonse Madhav Anant Pai(1898-1979), the legendary and visionary educationist, always had Manipal at the centre of his bold enterprises. To him, the small town nestled on a plateau in Karnataka’s Udupi district, 60 kilometres from Mangaluru, was the social crucible that amalgamated his successful and rewarding experiments in banking, education and health care. Not surprisingly, in his lifetime, Manipal was transformed into a university town of international repute.

It all began in 1935 when he set up his residence on a barren hill that was called Manipal, which then had just two other houses. A medical doctor who passed out from the Madras Medical College in 1925, T.M.A. Pai soon set up a nursing home on the family premises, which catered to the health care needs of the local population and dealt with smallpox, cholera and typhoid epidemics. He ventured out either on a bicycle or by horse carriage and sometimes spent whole days vaccinating people. But T.M.A. Pai was no ordinary village doctor, and would abide by his mother’s words to serve the people of his region, declining a lucrative offer from Hong Kong. He had a vision for the future and embarked on other ventures too, notably in banking and education.

In 1925, along with his brother U.A. Pai, he formed the Canara Industrial and Banking Syndicate, with himself as its managing director. The aim was to provide loans to poor weavers through a cooperative society. Syndicate Bank, as it came to be called after its nationalisation in 1969, had by then grown to become India’s sixth largest bank with over 300 branches. In 1942, T.M.A. Pai set up the Academy of General Education as a registered society with a membership fee of just Re.1. In the inaugural year, the academy offered vocational courses in printing, photography, nursing, minor welding, banking, insurance, surveying, and cinema exhibition. It later took over the administration of the Manipal Junior Basic School and established the Manipal High School.

In 1947, T.M.A. Pai made his foray into higher education. But the road he took to establish the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial (MGM) College was steep and arduous. Funds were almost non-existent: pleas to the Maharaja of Mysore and the Nizam of Hyderabad fell on deaf ears. Neither did institutions such as the Basel Evangelical Mission and the Udupi Krishna Temple extend any support to the college. Private donations were then sought, but the slow progress stymied the project. The money that was collected was hence returned to the donors but many people refused to take back their contributions.

Funds from the community, including the Madras Presidency, flowed in. This galvanised T.M.A. Pai into action. He mortgaged his property to make the initial payment to the University of Madras to get affiliation for MGM College. He was personally involved in the construction of the college. By June 1951, the college took final shape, becoming an example of community participation and collective ownership. Today, MGM College has emerged as one of the best colleges in the district, and is known for its research and cultural achievements.

Buoyed by the success of MGM College, T.M.A. Pai led several community efforts to establish colleges in towns across the district. In the 1960s he established five arts and science colleges in Karkala, Kundapura, Mulki and Sringeri. In 1957, he established the Vaikunta Baliga College of Law and in 1965 the Manipal College of Education. He was also instrumental in establishing 15 schools in his lifetime.

‘Believe it or not’

To T.M.A. Pai, the crowning glory of his achievement was the setting up of professional colleges of medicine, dentistry, engineering, nursing and pharmacy between 1953 and 1957. Kasturba Medical College (KMC), India’s first self-financing private medical school, was set up in Manipal in 1953. It was recognised by the Medical Council of India and the General Medical Council even as the first batch of students was admitted. This was followed by the setting up of KMC in Mangaluru in 1955. Manipal Institute of Technology, established in 1957, was one of the first self-financing engineering colleges in the country. Today it is the one of the largest colleges of Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) in terms of the number of students enrolled (9,249 as of September 2019). Manipal School of Nursing was started in 1959.

Interestingly, T.M.A. Pai appears in “Ripley’s Believe it or Not!” as one who has established the most number of educational institutions. However, even a person of his stature was hamstrung by red-tapism when it came to establishing a residential university in Manipal. The response to an application he submitted to the University Grants Commission in 1976 seeking “deemed-to-be” university status for the Academy of General Education was slow. It was not until 1993 that MAHE came into being as India’s first private, multidisciplinary, multi-college deemed university thanks to the Herculean efforts by his son and heir apparent Dr Ramdas Pai. Today it is India’s top ranked private research institute offering 290 programmes in 22 disciplines, including allied health, architecture, medicine, communication, data science, dentistry, engineering, humanities, information sciences, life sciences, management, pharmacy, nursing, public health, and philosophy, all under one umbrella. MAHE is also one of the three private universities to have been granted the “Institute of Eminence” tag by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).

Ramdas Pai, who is the Chancellor of MAHE, has ensured that Manipal is an international university township. The richness of MAHE is in its diversity of courses, students from across the world and its campuses in India and overseas. The Manipal group owns and operates campuses in Nepal, Malaysia, Dubai and Antigua in the Caribbean. Some 25,000 students from 67 countries are on the rolls of MAHE. The deemed-to-be university offers a comprehensive list of programmes ranging from architecture to medicine to journalism and engineering. The establishment of the Manipal group’s campuses across the world, its collaborations with universities across continents and its research engagements with world bodies stand out as unique achievements on the global education canvas.

World ranking

According to the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Ranking 2020, MAHE figures in the 701-750 band (up from the 750-800 band last year) among 1,620 universities that were in the reckoning and the 1,000 universities that make it to the final list from 82 countries. As per the QS rankings, MAHE’s performance was among the top 66 per cent; MAHE is the highest ranked private university from India in the QS World University list. For the 2020 rankings, QS analysed over 93 million citations from more than 13 million papers, 45,000 survey responses from employers and 94,000 survey responses from academics before evaluating the 1,000 universities globally. The QS rankings evaluate universities on six performance indicators: academic reputation, employer reputation, student-to-faculty ratio, citations per faculty, international faculty ratio and international student ratio. While four of the indicators are based on hard data, the remaining two are based on major global surveys—of academics and of employers—both the largest of their kinds. MAHE has also scored high on the subject-wise QS World University rankings. While Manipal College of Pharmaceutical Sciences was ranked in the 201-250 range in the pharmacy/pharmacology discipline, KMC, Manipal, was ranked in the 351-400 range in medicine; this was an improvement of 50 places over the previous year.

In the MHRD’s National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) 2019 rankings, MAHE was placed at number 9 and recognised as one of the top 10 universities in India. It was an improvement of three places from the 2018 rankings for Indian educational institutes. The NIRF ranking parameters broadly cover “Teaching, Learning and Resources”, “Research and Professional Practices”, “Graduation Outcomes”, “Outreach and Inclusivity” and “Perception”.

The constituent colleges of MAHE located in Manipal are KMC l; Manipal School of Life Sciences; College of Dental Sciences; Manipal College of Nursing; College of Health Professions; Manipal College of Pharmaceutical Sciences; Manipal Institute of Technology; International Centre for Applied Sciences; Manipal Centre for Information Sciences; Manipal Institute of Management; Welcomgroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration; and Manipal Institute of Communication. In Mangaluru, MAHE has two colleges: KMC and Manipal College of Dental Sciences. The other constituents are Manipal Institute of Regenerative Medicine, Bengaluru; Sikkim Manipal Institute of Medical Sciences, Gangtok; Sikkim Manipal Institute of Technology, Sikkim; Melaka-Manipal Medical College (MMMC)-Melaka (Malaysia); campuses in Manipal; and Manipal College of Medical Sciences, Nepal.

Besides these, MAHE has 11 departments. The postgraduate programmes offered here in humanities, European studies, philosophy, languages and international relations are among the best in the country. The medical and dental programmes of MMMC are conducted in the twin campuses at Manipal and Melaka.

Individual performances

Individual colleges among MAHE’s constituents have recorded exceptional performances. While KMC, Manipal, a tertiary care referral hospital that caters to around 1,50,000 patients annually, is MAHE’s flagship institution and continues to be among the top 10 medical schools in the country for the 16th year in a row, KMC, Mangaluru, is one of the finest examples of a successful public-private partnership in medical education and patient care. Manipal Institute of Technology is among the top 1 per cent of technical institutions. Among its notable alumni are Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft; Rajeev Suri, CEO of Nokia; Anant J. Talaulicar, president and CEO of Cummins India Ltd; Arun Shenoy, a nominee for the Grammy award; Mirza Faizan, founder and CEO of Avembsys Technologies; Rajeev Chandrashekhar, politician and entrepreneur; and M.G. George Muthoot, chairman of Muthoot Group. Student clubs at Manipal Institute of Technology, such as AeroMIT, Formula Manipal and Solar Mobil, have showcased not just their wares but have also been an example of MAHE’s insistence on experiential education.

Manipal College of Dental Sciences, Manipal, is the number one dental college in the country, while Manipal College of Nursing is among the top five nursing colleges. Welcomgroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration, established in 1986, is India’s premier hotel management institute and was ranked by CEOWORLD Magazine as the 29th among the “Best 50 Hospitality and Hotel Management Schools” in the world in 2019. Its alumni include Vikas Khanna, a six-time Michelin-starred Indian chef. He has donated to MAHE a Culinary Museum displaying antique utensils and tools worth $2 million.

MAHE’s International Centre for Applied Sciences places eligible students in programmes in the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. The School of Information Sciences conducts industry-supported postgraduate programmes in medical software, embedded systems, semiconductor chip design, virtualisation, big data science, cloud computing and the Internet of Things. Manipal College of Health Professions, the second largest among the constituent institutions of the university, is the largest in its category in the country, while the School of Life Sciences houses the TIFAC Centre of Excellence in Pharmacogenomics. The School of Regenerative Medicine located in Bengaluru works exclusively in the field of stem cells.

Manipal School of Architecture and Planning, in collaboration with Deakin University, Australia, and International Islamic University, Malaysia, has successfully conducted the International Studio in Manipal. Prasanna School of Public Health is working towards a European accreditation.

Manipal Institute of Virology, the youngest of MAHE institutions, is recognised as a Centre of Excellence by the Global Virus Network. By establishing synergies between fundamental research in natural sciences and engineering, Manipal Centre for Natural Sciences has created a niche for itself in the fields of palaeontology, astrophysics and earth sciences. The Museum of Anatomy and Pathology, the largest of its kind in Asia, features human and animal specimens and provides a great learning experience for students of health sciences. It is also a tourist attraction.

Overseas campuses

MAHE set up its first private medical school in Nepal in 1994. Today there are 26. When the history of successful twinning programmes in medical education in India is written, MMMC will undoubtedly feature in it as a successful chapter. An Indian solution to a Malaysian dream, MMMC was established through a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Malaysian and Indian governments in 1997. Since then, thousands of trained doctors, who account for nearly a quarter of all doctors in Malaysia today, have passed through the portals of MMMC. Students, most of them from Malaysia, and a few from Sri Lanka, study pre- and para-clinical subjects in India for two and a half years and the rest at the Melaka campus (established in 2001).

MMMC follows a unique six-strand curriculum, with horizontal integration of subjects for which it has received accreditation from the Malaysian Qualifying Agency for five years, the maximum that the Malaysian regulatory body gives. Incidentally, MMMC was the first private medical college to receive a five-year accreditation. Innovation in medical education has been the mainstay of MMMC. Problem-based learning, self-directed learning, clinical skills laboratory, and undergraduate student research in the form of mentored student projects have been in practice at MMMC for two decades.

The Bachelor of Dental Sciences course in MMMC, which was started in 2009, is a much-sought-after programme. Generation of new knowledge components is one of the strengths of MMMC with numerous impactful research publications and big grants in its kitty. With a team of highly qualified faculty members and a unique curriculum suited for the medical professionals of today, MMMC epitomises success in twinning programmes in medical education. In the past more than 80 per cent of faculty members had been from Manipal. It is now brought down to 20 per cent, by choice.

MAHE’s Dubai campus offers courses ranging from from biotechnology to fashion designing and communications; it caters to students from West Asian countries, North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Research excellence

Research has always been an area of high importance to MAHE. Over the past five years, there has been a significant improvement in research publications and research collaborations and in securing national and international research grants. MAHE’s focus is on research that addresses challenges of national and global importance and generates knowledge that is useful to society. The location of different scientific disciplines on a single campus has paved the way for interdisciplinary research.

Manipal Institute of Virology, a centre of excellence for diagnostic research activities and a regional reference laboratory for influenza viruses, is a Grade I Virus Diagnostic Laboratory of the Indian Council of Medical Research. It is supported by the Department of Health Research (Ministry of Science and Technology) and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. It hosts Karnataka’s State Sentinel Surveillance laboratory for Arboviral Diseases. It has collaborations with the Centre of Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, U.S., and Public Health England, Colindale, U.K.

State-of-the-art facilities in genome engineering, genetics, molecular and cell biology, biochemistry, bioinformatics and biophysics are available at Manipal School of Life Sciences. MAHE also has centralised research facilities for cellular, molecular, genetic and clinical research, advanced research and training in clinical embryology, pharmacogenomics, radiation biology, laser and spectroscopy, private cloud, a photovoltaic laboratory, 3D printing, robotics and an automation laboratory.

MAHE has fostered and strengthened research by appointing post-doctoral candidates from international universities, providing research assistants and research faculty to departments demonstrating exemplary research outcomes, and providing intramural grants to PhD candidates. MAHE’s research is driven by collaborative seed funding that facilitates research and research mobility among researchers to learn the best practices of international universities and implement some of these practices in their own research activities. A fund is set apart for faculty researchers for this purpose. The Office of International Affairs and Collaborations at MAHE supports researchers in global collaboration.

Accorded the Institution of Eminence status by the HRD Ministry, MAHE has been expanding its research boundaries with a mission to be one of the top ranked global universities by 2032.

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