Analyzing Chitkara University on 15 Factors that take a University from Good to Great! 

Aditi Singh, IIM Calcutta alumnus and a renowned process consultant to top 50 universities globally, explores why Chitkara University ranks very high on the G3 University Ranking Matrix across the world.

I have been a process consultant for over a decade, focused on improving the efficiency of government, quasi-government and private institutions. Over 40% of my clients are educational institutions for whom I conduct management training workshops, suggest the technology solutions for efficient administration and design the performance blueprint. These institutions have been spread across across India, rest of Asia and Middle East, including Hong Kong, Dubai, Qatar, Malaysia and Singapore. I have seen them all, whether directly as clients or indirectly while conducting the competition analysis.

Rarely I see a university that blows me away with its awesomeness. But I recently did come across one such great University, Chitkara. I was so impressed that I couldn’t help but write this article on the 15 magical factors that differentiate a Great University from several good ones. Feel free to evaluate any other University on these factors and see for yourself, whether it is Good or Great! 

On the basis of my experience in the education domain, the classification of universities according to their level of excellence, can usually be depicted well by the G3 Pyramid Model for Universities. This especially holds true for universities across India, rest of South Asia and also for Middle Eastern countries.

According to the G3 Pyramid for Universities, most universities can be classified as generic, whose objective is to impart essential learning and confer a degree. These act more like an education machinery churning out undergrads and grads year after year, without putting much thought into or changing the process over the years.

Then there are some good universities that don’t just give you education and a degree. They also provide you exposure and a 360 degree learning experience, that help you evolve at both personal and professional levels. These good universities get you ready to join the Industry and have a decent career.

Now, a great university doesn’t just educate for a degree but provides you the learning experience of a life time and makes you wiser. Additionally it nurtures you in an inspiring environment, provides exposure, network and the opportunities to interact with achievers so as to enable you to become a leader in any career path you choose to pursue. Hence, even a degree from such an institution is held in high esteem.

So what are the factors that make some universities great and differentiate them from the generic and even the good ones. Here are those 15 magical factors, presented clearly as what we call ‘The G Model’ of Great vs. Good Universities.  Let’s take a look:

Now let’s elaborate each one of them and understand how pursuing them seriously makes a university great. Also, we will illustrate how Chitkara University fares on each one of these factors.

1. Research Focus: Research focus is one quality that differentiates a great institution from good ones. Research is not an average university’s cup of tea. Most universities are focussed on short term goals instead of caring about a greater vision of advancing the domain of knowledge. But research is the most important pursuit great universities engage in.

Chitkara is one such great research focussed university. It displays a strong commitment towards contributing to and advancing the knowledge in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths (STEAM) domains. Apart from offering Doctoral Programs in 9 domains, they host an Annual Doctoral Consortium. They have innumerable research projects funded by government and the industry. For example, they are the recipients of the HP innovation Grant of  USD 170,000 and one among only 5 institutions selected across Asia Pacific, including Japan.

Chitkara University also houses a Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, Sponsored IPR Cell, to encourage the intellectual property rights related activities and Patent facilitation in the region and for its students and the faculty.

Chitkara University’s faculty members are research oriented and have been recognized and awarded by several national international bodies for their contribution in domain. They have over 22 books published by their faculty to their credit. Have over 10 open access, UGC recognized, peer reviewed, research journals and several books published. They also host several national and global conferences annually on domains like Sustainable Civil Engineering Practices, Transformation of Engineering Education and more.

2. Innovation Orientation: Innovation is an important contribution to the society, the industry and the economy. The culture for Innovation isn’t easy to foster and hence, doesn’t exist even in most good universities. Only great universities, have the vision to be innovation oriented.

Speaking of Chitkara University, innovation is taken seriously here. The university has filed for over 27 patents and has 2 incubators namely ‘Chitkara Innovation Incubator’ and ‘Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development (CEED)’. They have hosted 50+ Industry events and several more Tech-Talks within last 1 year itself. The ‘Chitkara University Research and Innovation Network’ organizes an annual problem solving challenge called, Novate and invites all thinkers, innovators, makers and implementers to join the innovation revolution and win prizes.

According to the recent Annual Report, the university has over 40+ successful startups. Has a structured mentoring program, industry network, provides a seed fund, incubation space and a focussed acceleration program. It also focuses on social entrepreneurship. Its startups are also winning at international startup challenges. The Indian farm engineering startup from Chitkara University, Chandigarh, ‘Moksh’ won the 1st spot and bagged prize money worth RMB 200,000 RMB (Yuan) in a nail-biting global innovation challenge in China. 

3. Teaching Quality & Methodology: The teaching quality and methodology is the soul of a university. It is one of the core factors that differentiate a great university from several good ones.

Even on this factor Chitkara University doesn’t fail to amazes us. They pay great attention to their faculty, not only ensure the faculty credentials are great and grow over the years of engagement but also regularly organize Faculty Development Programs. Recently FDPs on research metrics, selecting good journals for publication and more. They are an active member of the ERASMUS+ i.e. European Commission Capacity building projects in the field of higher education support the modernization, accessibility and internationalization of higher education in India. Also Chitkara University’s faculty benefit from the funding for faculty exchange program by ‘The UK India Education and Research Initiative’ (UKIERI) that has been started to enhance educational links between India and the UK. The focus of the exchange will be the identification and management of differences in teaching practice, and the use of technology to support learning.

Their faculty members constantly get felicitated by international universities. Mr. Manjinder Singh Dhaliwal, Vice President, Office of Student Outreach and Dr. Amit Mittal, Dean, Doctoral Review committee (DRC), Chitkara University, were recently felicitated by Pathumthani University, Thailand, at the National and International Conference on Smart Society Development. Chitkara University’s professors are also highly motivated to share their expertise with others for example, Dr. Parul Sood, Assistant Professor, Chitkara University, conducted a workshop on, ‘Play to Learn’, with focus on strategies and activities, demonstrating how playful activities like Bingo, KWL Grid and Hot Seats can be effectively used in a classroom scenario to enhance active participation of students.

The university also they has faculty exchange partnership programs with numerous international universities, hence students also get the benefit of learning from the best faculty from different countries. Further, the university even has its own excellence awards for its administrators, faculty and staff. The objective of this award function is to recognize the importance of perception and performance, both amongst its pillars of knowledge. These awards have interesting categories like: Deans’ Excellence Awards, Teachers’ Excellence Awards, Department Excellence Awards, Research Excellence Awards etc. A great way for motivating faculty for continued excellence.

4. Learning Scope & Outcomes: Yes, even if this factor is dependent on the previous factor ‘Teaching Quality and Methodology’, it deserves a special mention. As a good teaching quality and methodology doesn’t always result in best learning outcomes. Those are also dependent on several other factors like the learning environment, student motivation levels, healthy competition, the quality of student intake itself and more. The learning scope and outcomes must take into consideration the student perspective on how they are taught to learn new things and unlearn the old ones.

Chitkara University, prides itself in prioritizing hands-on learning and letting students dive into research and practice from day-one. They focus on teaching students skills to convert ideas into reality. For example, the recently organized ‘Future solar Design Challenge – 2019’ with a theme ‘Racing with the Sun’, where the university students got an opportunity to showcase their knowledge, talent and potential to build the future with roadworthy social vehicles.

Thus Chitkara University provides its students not just great teaching but also awesome avenues for learning, exploring and satisfying their curiosities. Also, the facilities for taking up new challenges, for building, investing and innovating by implementing their knowledge into action.

5. Infrastructure Essential + Enabling: This factor might seem like a no brainer but only if you get the meaning of infrastructure wrong. Most universities think infrastructure only means the essential hostels, classrooms and other fancy grand brick and mortar building like Auditorium, Library etc. However, great universities understand that infrastructure also means the enabling campus ecosystem that gives equal importance to both the academic and non-academic aspects of the campus life. An ecosystem that fosters growth, innovation, creativity, efficiency, health and happiness among the students.

Good Universities promise a wi-fi campus, clean hostels, well equipped classrooms and labs, Banking and ATM facilities etc. But Chitkara goes beyond in providing: on-demand medical facilities form best hospitals in the city; a world class library with physical and digital resources, hostels with indoor games and other recreational facilities; and most amazing of all cafeterias, where menus are decided by professional dieticians, which nutritious and wholesome food for a well balanced diet. Now that is what we call a Great University!

6. Vision for Social Impact: How can some people or institutions create greater impact than millions of others put together? What makes some organizations contribute to changing the world we live in, for better, while a million others are just trying to survive? The difference is in the vision, the vision for creating a lasting social impact. Such a vision is even more important for universities as they are the building blocks for a better future of our society.

Chitkara University, through its diligence and inspiring leadership, has helped create a learning environment that represents a unique blend of distinguished faculty, brilliant students and proactive collaborations with industry. They have successfully created an academic seat of excellence for inspiring more talented youth and contribute to various domains of knowledge. But their commitment to the society doesn’t end here, the university also sensitively addresses the social, economic and environmental impacts of its operations and contributes its share in meeting the sustainable development goals.

Chitkara University is also careful about the impact of its activities on its students, employees, on the regional community, as well as on the environment. The university’s notion of ‘social responsibility’ goes beyond the general notions attributed to charity, they rather believe in uplifting the decorum, efficiency and sustainability of people and communities around them. The community-giving is centered on educational and workplace willingness, employee volunteerism and ecological sustainability. Also Chitkara University offers several scholarships and also subscribes to other government and state scholarships for its students.

7. Inspiring Environment: This is one factor on which most good universities fail on their path to becoming great universities. As discussed above in The G3 Pyramid Model for Universities, inspiring students is not something that is in the agenda of an average or even a good institution. Only great institutions focus on ensuring that the students can derive inspiration that had the potential to not only change their life but also the world we live in.   

At Chitkara University, the students get access to the best national as well as international faculty members, innovative curriculum and enabling infrastructure. But most importantly they get an inspiring environment to learn, grow and excel in any domain they choose. The management, faculty and students coordinate to foster this environment and further the positive dynamics. They together organize inspiring workshops to learn and and perform better. For example a talk on ‘Tame You Big Data’ was organized for Big Data and Hadoop by the ACM student chapter where Mr. Sarabjot Singh, Technical Lead @ Trantor Software Ltd. offered students knowledge on Hadoop framework – data center, data nodes and data storage techniques, and gave them insights into the required hands-on experience, they need to hone, for solving real-time issues.

They also regularly organize other inspiring sessions like, 360 Degree Growth Workshops, Workshops on Success Mantras, Persuasion Skills and more. Also, Chitkara University’s ‘Chitkara Innovation Incubator’ and ‘Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development (CEED)’ give the students an inspiring environment to explore their curiosities and build credible businesses. Further the students get to organize and participate in events on latest technologies like AI, Machine Learning along with on Dance, Performing Arts, Sports and more. Such and environment is more helpful in overall growth than just studying and passing exams.

8. Leadership Credentials & Commitment: This one factor must never be undermined. The leadership of a university plays a key role in taking it from good to great. Their vision, the network they bring in and the commitment to making it a centre of academic excellence, defines a university’s greatness quotient. Without the right senior management and leadership the university can’t cross the barriers to become a great university. Hence, this is the driving factor for a university to achieve excellence in the other 14 factors presented in The G Model.

Chitkara University is lucky to have a senior management that fits the criteria perfectly. They are qualified, credible, fully committed and have an amazing network which they are growing further consistently. The initiatives taken by them, have lead to such fast raise in ranks for Chitkara University. They are focused on improving the quality of work and education, hold conferences on a regular basis in collaboration with the industry and government bodies from various countries on topics like, ‘Future of Classrooms’, ‘Impact of Artificial Intelligence on the Future of Education’, ‘Creating Intellectual Einstein’, ‘Holistic Idea for Education’,‘Transformation in Education: Vision 2030’ and more.

The founders of Chitkara University, both renowned academicians and mathematicians, have been honored by various government and academic bodies. For example, Dr. Madhu Chitkara, the Vice-Chancellor of Chitkara University recently received an ‘Award of Honor for International Digital Leaders’ from BRICS International Forum, International Federation of Indo-Russian Youth Club and Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (Govt. of India).

9. Progressive & Functional Curriculum: A university has greater control on its curriculum and has more options to innovate but if they still choose to follow the same curriculum as everyone else without much ado, this might act as a roadblock on their path to greatness. If a university is progressive in refining and evolving its curriculum as per the industry demands and emerging technologies, it surely comes across as a great university.

In case of Chitkara University we get to see some awesome curriculum innovation. When in most universities engineering specializations are limited to Computer Science, Information Technology, Mechanical Engineering, Electronics and Communication Engineering etc. Chitkara’s engineering school offers super-specializations within the Computer Science department in several sought after technology domains, that are in huge demand in the Industry today. These domains are: AI & Machine Learning, Cyber Security, Data Analytics, Cloud Computing, FullStack, Game Design, User Interface, DevOps, Mobile Computing. Awesome right! This is true curriculum innovation that you’ll find at great universities. No wonder, their Engineering Programs have emerged among the top ones in the country.

10. Co-Curricular Opportunities: Great universities realize the importance of co-curricular activities, as much as that of the curriculum, while average and good universities tend to mostly ignore them. These opportunities contribute tremendously to outside the classroom learning and personal growth of the students. Are great at teaching them life skills better than they can learn in a pre-defined curriculum taught inside a classroom.

Chitkara University pays great attention to co-curricular activities and learning opportunities they provide to their students. 

Students definitely get excellent exposure, evolve and learn useful life skills by organizing and participating in these activities.

11. Don’t Underestimate Fun: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. We have all heard of this saying, still most good universities obsess too much over education and ignore fun. Having sufficient amount of fun makes the learning process more effective for students. Engaging in fun activities also helps students learn a lot of key skills like interpersonal, communication, negotiation, persuasion skills and crucial abilities like logical reasoning, on the feet thinking, stress management, approaching situations creatively and innumerable more. Hence, great universities never underestimate fun, as fun keeps their students motivated, charged up and excited about making the most of their student life.

At Chitkara University fun is taken seriously. Fun activities, parties and campus fests are ample, to relax the minds of students after the grueling hard work they put into academics and other co-curricular activities. It has been rightly said that music is the soul of life and helps in rejuvenating your body and mind. The Chitkara University ‘Office of Student Affairs’ and the ‘EPIC Youth Club’, believe in this and regularly organize DJ parties and music concerts on campus for the students. For example when the Chitkara team won the Future Solar Design Challenge (FSDC 2019) they along with the EPIC Youth Club organized a party where DJ V Sky played foot-thumping music and the students danced non-stop!

Also, celebrations of events like ‘International Happiness Day’ on campus include fun and exciting events like Gully Cricket, Pithu Garam, Kho-kho, Gulli Danda, Dog-in-the-Pond, Tug of War etc. which take everyone back to their childhood days. Such events also help people find happiness in simple things and strengthen the bond between the mentors and mentees.

12. Experience of a Lifetime: The campus life and experience at a university is what creates deep bonding between students and their future alma mater. Wonder why people revel in the glory of their days at Harvard, Stanford, Cam bridge, IITs and IIMs and donate huge sums of money to their already cash rich universities, after they accomplish decent positions in their lives? It is the connection that they feel with their university even after several decades, due to the experience of the lifetime they had there as students. It is the experience that they don’t forget, even long after they forget the chapters they studied. 

For Chitkara University students, the campus where they get to experience the grandeur of student fests like ‘Explore’, the awesome performances, dance, music, off-the-beat ramp shows and cultural programs is definitely an experience of a lifetime. ‘Explore’ is not yet another student fest, the scale and level of fun is mind boggling and leaves a lifelong impression in the mind of participating students and even those organizing and attending it.

The university campus also keeps having innumerable events and contests year round, on varied skills like poster making, cooking, hacking, dance, story writing, science and inventions, startup contests and more. For example the Chitkara University Language Centre organized a public speaking event – ‘Voice of Youth’ with an awesome theme ‘Power to persuade, to convert, to compel’. Such events help students gain experiences that stick with them for life and help shape their personality.  For example a student named Anmol Talwar, a CSE 3rd Year student, who was also the Vice President – Public Relations, of the Chitkara University Toastmasters Club, recently got placed with HighRadius Technologies, and gives full credit to the Chitkara University’s Language Centre for providing an excellent learning platform to support his personal and professional development.

Students also get to build and boost their confidence through clubs like C2S2 Awaaz the Dramatics Club of Chitkara University and Panache the Modeling Club of Chitkara University. In fact the students learn to be so multi-talented that they recently won the first prize in both the Group Modeling Competition and the Nukkad Natak competition at NIT Jalandhar.

The Chitkara University students, due to the great facilities and focus on sports in the campus also bering laurels in the sports domain. The University received the Overall Winner Trophy at IIT Ropar Sports Fest this year. Chitkara University even runs its own Community Radio by the name of Chitkara 107.8. This is also a great way to engage the community and the best part is that this is completely managed by the students of Chitkara University, again an experience you only hope to get at great universities.

13. Industry Interaction: Again something only great institutions understand the value of. Industry interaction, insights from domain experts and exposure to leaders from the companies students hold in high esteem, has an unparalleled impact in shaping their c. This factor is probably the most important one, out of these 15, if i had to choose only one. 

Industry exposure and interactions are a strong focus at Chitkara University. The university, has collaborations with some world-class companies to include New Age industry-endorsed specialization in fields such as Data Analytics, DevOps, VLSI, Cloud Computing, Interaction Design, Full Stack Development, Game Design, IoT & Embedded Systems, Industrial Automation and more. For example the Cyber Security specialization is in partnership with the Quick Heal Academy.

Chitkara University’s Institute of Engineering and Technology also has partnerships with global industry leaders like Apple, Microsoft, NVIDIA, Google, SAP, Bosch, Tata, Texas Instruments and a lot more, to give its students the best Industry exposure possible and opportunity to interact with the best in the industry. You can see more here: https://www.chitkara.edu.in/engineering/industrypartnerships/

Chitkara University also regularly organizes campus visits from the Big-Wigs of the Industry to share knowledge interact with their students. Due to this proactiveness in Industry collaborations and interactions, Chitkara University’s alumni have done really well in various fields, right from working in companies like google, studying at Purdue University or carving a niche in the media and entertainment domain.

For example recently: The noted Art Critic and the recipient of Padma Shree and Padma Bhusan Awards Prof. B.N. Goswamy visited Chitkara University to enlighten and interact with the students about on the topic ‘Between Conception & Creation’. Also, Mr. Kapil Sharma, Vice President of Netsmartz visited the campus to interact with students and share with them the true potential of AI in construction, in an event organized by the Computer Society of India in association with Department of Computer Applications.

14. Global Exposure: In today’s era of global markets, an institution can’t help its students succeed much in their careers without providing them a global outlook and exposure. Today when a successful company know no international borders and has employees working across geographies and timezones, exposure to various cultures and countries prepares a student for a rewarding career ahead. Hence, great universities make sure their students get ample amount of global exposure.

Hence, Chitkara University has a strong international focus. All the programs are taught in english by local and international faculty. They have international student and faculty exchange programs, along with dual degree programs with international universities. Chitkara University has partnerships with over 70 universities across North America, Asia, Middle East, Australia and Europe, located in 16 countries including, Dubai, UK, Germany, France, Spain, USA, Canada, Mexico, Taiwan, Malaysia, China, South Korea, Indonesia, Japan and more. 

Some of the benefits that students get from these partnerships are, Semester Exchange: visiting partner universities for six months to one year for completing their semesters abroad; Summer Programs: attending short duration program of 15 days to one month on various specializations in these international universities; Faculty Exchange: opportunity to learn from international faculty on your campus. There are a lot of other benefits students derive from these global connections, like opportunity to participate in international competitions and conferences, attend global leadership camps, avail study based scholarships from international universities and more. These work great for global exposure, understanding different cultures and getting them ready for a global career.

15. Career Prospects for Future Leaders: For society, the career prospects a student can explore and avail due to the ecosystem provided by a University is the ultimate test of how great a university is. We do consider, whether decent paying jobs are available to the students from a particular university. But we must also consider, what kind of jobs are available, which companies consider students from that university for employment and for what type of positions, also what other avenues students can explore for example entrepreneurship. Keep in mind that a great university will not just make its students job ready and provide them job opportunities, but will also prepare them to have a great career and provide opportunities which offer tremendous scope for growth.

Again, looking at some placement statistics for the School of Engineering and Technology at Chitkara University will impress you further. The engineering program sees placement offers from some of the best employers in the country and globally. Just this year the university had over 500+ recruiters for the batch. The students had over 50+ international offers. The highest salary offered was INR 3 Million with more than 150 students receiving offers of >1 million and over 250 students receiving offers for more than

Offers for more than INR 800,000. Also over 75+ students chose to launch their own startups. All big recruiters including Microsoft, Google, Adobe, Amazon, Oracle, SAP, Honda etc. along with mass recruiters like Infosys, Cognizant, Accenture, Tata, IBM all hire at Chitkara University. The alumni network is not just limited to India but spread world wide including USA, UK, Germany, Canada, France, Australia and more.

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For sure, putting any university to test on each of these parameters really means challenging it to its core. Not an easy model for most to fare well one. That is why it helps in differentiating great universities from the good ones. However, any university that performs well on each of these 15 factors is worth applauding to. We did put Chitkara University to test and it fared extremely well on the challenge. Hence, we do applaud them, their leadership, faculty and students for the hard work in bringing the university to this level of excellence and wish them the best in future as well. You guys too feel free to conduct this analysis for any university you want to entrust your career and future with, but remember it wouldn’t be an easy test for most universities. So stick with the few great ones like Chitkara University. All the Best!

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