Mahatma Gandhi University, one of the four affiliating Universities in Kerala, is the premier educational institution that strives to fulfill the higher educational needs of the people of Central Kerala. Set on the sprawling 110-acre Priyadarsini Hills Campus at Athirampuzha, 13 kms off Kottayam, the University also has ten satellite campuses in parts of Kottayam and the neighbouring districts. The University was established on 2nd October 1983 and has jurisdiction over the revenue districts of Kottayam, Ernakulam, Idukki and parts of Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha. It is a University that conducts a range of programmes at the undergraduate, postgraduate, M Phil and doctoral levels through its 18 University Departments, 1 International Inter University Centre, 6 Inter University Centres, 7 Inter School Centres, 36 Self-Financing Departments, 82 Aided Affiliated Colleges (of which 8 are Colleges with Potential for Excellence), 230 Unaided Affiliated Colleges and 273 Recognized Research Institutes. It imparts education in the interdisciplinary as well as conventional disciplines of science, social science and humanities besides in the professional disciplines of Engineering, Technology, Legal studies, Pedagogy, Pharmacy and Nursing. TheUniversity has also made its educational presence felt outside the territorial jurisdiction through achain of Off-campus Centres under the School of Distance Education.
From its inception, Mahatma Gandhi University has made immense strides in the fields of inter disciplinary teaching and research in the areas of pure and applied sciences, social sciences and humanities. The teaching programmes conducted under the Credit and Semester System (CSS) in the statutory departments of teaching and research, organized as interdisciplinary Schools, are marked by their innovative curricula and their learner-oriented approaches. CSS is a studentfriendly system that fosters interactive acquisition of knowledge in a multi-disciplinary context. The students are made familiar with the latest developments in their subjects of study. The University has always promoted the healthy practice of designing and revising its curricula and syllabi through discussions and deliberations carried out in a democratic way among the members of the academic community. The faculty of the University comprise outstanding scholars, many of whom have made original contributions in their respective fields of specialization. The faculty and research scholars of several departments have gained widespread recognition for the commendable quality of their research publications. The research journals published by some of the Schools have garnered international recognition.
The University’s adoption of interdisciplinarity as the basic conceptual plank for the organization of individual departments is prompted by the understanding that interdisciplinary knowledge is path-breaking, far reaching and non-linear in its effect, compared to what conventional forms of knowledge are capable of doing within the confines of discrete disciplines. Appreciating the trend of several non-conventional areas of knowledge emerging across physical, natural and social sciences, the University has chosen to organize its academic departments as interdisciplinary schools where multiple disciplinesco-exist and interact with one another. The organizational practice of creating institutions of interdisciplinary knowledge itself has been a great learning experience for the academics in MahatmaGandhi University. The University has initiated the constitution of Centres of Convergence around integrated knowledge areas. Knowledge generated beyond disciplines and across interfaces is strikingly fresh, regenerative and convergent.
At present Mahatma Gandhi University offers research programmes in forty disciplines through its own Schools as well as through its approved research centres. The University has close collaboration for academic, research and extension programmes with a number of national agencies and institutions including the UGC, FIST, DRS, ISRO, COSIT, DIT, DST (Nano Mission), CSIR, DAAD, STEC, ICMR, BARC, MOEF, ICCR, ICHR, IED, IIFT, Institute of Chinese Studies and the Sahitya Akademi. The University is also involved in active collaboration with research institutions of international reputation such as the Max Planck Institute of Technology, Germany, Brown University, USA, University of Nantes, France, California Institute of Technology, USA, University of Toronto, Canada, Catholic University, Belgium, Heidelberg University, Germany, and the Institute of Political Studies, Rennes, France, Trent University, Canada, IPFDresden, Germany, University of Paris and University of Strasbourg. Some of the members of the faculty have proved to be frontrunners in the development of indigenous technologies and are holders of as many as twenty patents, including four from the US. A considerable percentage of the alumni of theUniversity are comfortably placed in the country and abroad as academics, scientists and professionals.
The recent development in the inter disciplinary initiatives of the University is the establishment of fourteen interface centres of teaching and innovative research, of which five are Inter- University centres exemplifying institutions of convergence, an emerging academic feature of importance. Advanced Centre of Environmental Studies and Sustainable Development, Inter University Centre for Bio Medical Research, Inter University Centre for Disability Studies, Inter University Centre for Social Science Research and Extension, Inter University Centre for Studies in Science of Music and Instrumentation Center are conceived to consolidate the strengths in various Universities in the specified area. Institute for Intensive Research in Basic Sciences, Centre for Nano Science and Nano Technology, Centre forEnglish Language and Communication Skills, Centre for International Co-operation, Institute for Contemporary Chinese Studies, Dr. K N Raj Centre for Planning and Center-State Relations, Advanced Molecular Materials Research Centre and Center for High Performance Computing envisage advanced studies independently. Introduction of a series of merit cum means scholarships has been the yet another new initiative by way of social preparations. ASPIRE, INSPIRE, THANMA and ACQUIRE are themain scholarships implemented in the University. The University is doing the state wide coordinationof both THANMA and ACQUIRE. ASPIRE is a scholarship scheme for students who aspire to carry out short term research programmes in science, social sciences, humanities and fine arts. The scholarship is to provide opportunities for potential students to pursue short term studies at postgraduate or research level in Institutions of Higher Learning, in areas of their interest. THANMA is the scholarship for nurturing literary talent and ACQUIRE for attracting brilliant students to the faculty of Social Sciences. INSPIRE is the flagship programme of Government of India to attract bright minds to basic sciences rightfrom school level to doctoral level. In order to provide opportunities for the students to get deeper insight into their subjects of study Erudite Scholar-in-Residence programme was also initiated in which several Nobel Laureates and other academics of comparable eminence are invited for direct interaction with them.
Mahatma Gandhi University’s academic growth during the past has been phenomenal in terms of the number of new academic initiatives launched, curricular revisions undertaken, research grants received, research collaborations entered into, extension activities organized, research papers published, national and international seminars hosted, student support programmes conducted, quality enhancement measures initiated, infrastructural support generated, resource mobilization, and distinctions and achievements acquired. The University is quite prominently placed on the international academic map through its entry into the Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative as the lone affiliating University in India. In the overall ranking process of the Indian Universities by India Today, Mahatma Gandhi University was ranked first in Kerala, third in South India and 28th in India. CSIR has ranked the University thirteenth in India in terms of intellectual productivity and NISTADS has rated it nineteenth in terms of h-index of the science faculty. DST has ranked the University 8th among the 29Universities under the PURSE programme The University has been able to make these gains thanks to the healthy environment of academic interaction. All components of the teachinglearning system contribute toward making the process of learning student- friendly. The webenabled University Library with its large collection of books, journals and e-journals, the online Theses Digital Library that provides open access to its enviable collection of digitized Ph D dissertations, the publishing unit which has brought out hundreds of titles in Malayalam, English and Hindi, the facilities available at the School of Physical Education and Sports Sciences for developing physical culture, the ecologically sensitive extension programmes initiated by the University Departments and the National Service Scheme, the Students’ Web Centre that provides round-the-clock web-support to the campus community, the coaching and placement services provided by the Department of Student Services and the University Employment Information and Guidance Bureau, proactive communication system developed by the Information and Public Relations Department and the general administrative support that the academic community receive from the University administration – all these work in tandem with the academic business transacted by the University, making the learning experience a holistic one.