New Delhi: If the number of applications to the maiden PhD programmes at the South Asian University (SAU) is anything to go by, the young minds of the South Asian region sure want to dig deeper for knowledge. Take for instance the doctoral programme for Biotechnology, in which the university got more than 500 applications against 10 seats on offer.

The university received for this academic session a total number of 4133 applications for its Master’s and PhD programmes from eight South Asian countries, a good figure considering the university is only in its third academic year. This number is almost double compared to that of last year.

Established by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, admission to the university is governed by a quota system where each member country of the regional body gets a specific number of seats in each programme of study. This year, the maximum applications for both Master’s as well as Doctoral programmes were received from India. For seven Master’s degree programmes, 2516 Indian students vied for India’s quota of 105 seats this year whereas the total number of Indian aspirants last year was 1796.

Prof. GK Chadha, the President of SAU, said, ‘I will attribute the upward swing in the number of applications to the robust academic environment that SAU has created in such a short period of its existence.” With rare courses and some of the best faculties a university in this region could have, the heightened interest shown by the students and the academia is only understandable, he added.

SAU currently offers seven Master’ and seven PhD programmes. Ultimately, it aspires to have 11 Post Graduate and Research faculties and a faculty of Undergraduate studies. At full strength, the university whose campus is being constructed at Maidan Garhi in New Delhi will have about 7000 students. Every year, SAU conducts SAARC wide entrance test in all the major cities in South Asia. While admission to Master’s programmes is based on the entrance test, PhD aspirants have to go through presentation of thesis proposal and personal interview as well.

Talking about the programmes that are most sought after, Vice President of the university - Prof. Rajiv K. Saxena, who is also the Dean of Faculty of Life Sciences and Biotechnology said, “While we witnessed about 56 per cent increase in the total number of applications received this year for all courses, Master’s programmes in Biotechnology, Development Economics and International Relations in particular are more popular amongst the students. MSc Applied Mathematics, which was introduced last year, saw a whopping 158 per cent jump in the number of applications.”

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