Research Vision

Research Strategy and Directions: Besides graduate schools and the undergraduate college, the SAU would aim at promoting high quality research among the faculty and research scholars. The plan is to have well-articulated interdisciplinary research centers (IRCs) that carry out research in areas that hold common stakes to SAARC countries. A flagship research program is to establish an Institute of South Asian Studies that will pursue collective research towards finding solutions to multiple problems commonly faced by countries of the region.


The mandate of the South Asian University, as set out in the Agreement of the SAARC member states under which the University is being set up envisages that the choice of the programs of studies to be offered at this University should:

  • enhance learning in the South Asian community that promotes an understanding of each others perspectives and strengthen regional consciousness;
  • provide liberal and humane education to the brightest and the most dedicated students of South Asia so that a new class of quality leadership is nurtured; and
  • enhance capacity building of the South Asian Nations in science, technology and other areas of higher learning vital for improving their quality of life such as information technology, bio-technology and management sciences, etc.

These three elements i.e. building a culture of understanding and regional consciousness; nurturing a new class of liberal, bright and quality leadership and building the capacity of the region in science, technology and other disciplines considered vital for improving the quality of life of the people, therefore, form the core objectives of the South Asian University.

The SAU would strive to provide world class education in keeping with the most recent international trends in University education, in terms of choice of subjects across various disciplines and pedagogical approaches to meet these objectives. Relevance will be ensured through alignment of the academic program with the University’s core objectives. Quality will be ensured through collecting the very best academics available in the world for teaching, research and peer review. In order to ensure that the SAU becomes the leading center of excellence for learning in the region, the SAU aims to draw upon the very best SAARC academics working in the region, the very best SAARC academics working outside the region; and, non–SAARC academics whose thoughts and research work are at the cutting edge of knowledge and of direct relevance to the SAU mandate. The SAU would ensure this through a set of world class incentives and facilities to attract the very best.

Besides preparing students for a career and profession, a very important function of education is to transfer the accumulated human knowledge in all fields from one generation to another. If this link of knowledge transfer ever breaks, the human culture, as we know, itself would vanish. A university should therefore aim not only at training the students for specific careers, but also consider itself as a sacred site where human knowledge is transferred from generation to generation and indeed new knowledge is generated constantly. Capability to impart knowledge throughout its wide spectrum and active research for generating new knowledge should therefore be the very basic twin aspirations of all universities, especially among highly diverse societies such as those witnessed in South Asia.

Knowledge is the most powerful means for promoting meaningful understanding of diversity, building cohesion and promoting tolerance. By providing a common forum where such knowledge is accumulated, generated and disseminated, the South Asian University aims to become the focal point for the search for common ground and socio-economic development of the region.

The South Asian University, therefore, aims to provide for programs of studies which:

  • have the potential to promote regional understanding, peace and security which ultimately enhances the well being of the people of the region;
  • reach newer, common and challenging frontiers in various disciplines, and inter-disciplinary outfits, usually not available in individual countries.
  • lead to creation and sharing of knowledge that has the potential of creating a South Asian Community of intellectuals, endowed with expanding mutual trust and appreciation of one another’s problems

It is extremely important for the South Asian University to focus on achieving these aims because, individually, the SAARC member countries may find it difficult to provide for the transfer of all shades of knowledge for their own students. Access to a university that, due to joint efforts, ownership and common stakes of all member countries, is able to present a truly wholesome capability in all spheres of knowledge is a crucial asset for all SAARC countries. Establishment of the SAU that encompasses the diversity of the region and focuses on addressing the common academic needs to build cohesion and understanding through the generation and transfer of knowledge by building a cohort of highly educated leaders in various fields of life will have enormous long term multiplier effects for the region.

Making provision for in-house expertise in most areas of knowledge through establishment of various seemingly conventional Faculties, as described in this document, has another important purpose. In today’s world, whether it is for pursuing very basic research inquiries or for seeking solutions to emerging problems, research efforts have to be multidisciplinary. Thus, the provision of expertise in multiple basic areas ensures that an interdisciplinary effort can be initiated rapidly. These interdisciplinary efforts, focused on the current and emerging needs of the region vis-a-vis the rest of the world, will promote the niche capability of the SAU. These efforts will be organized around the three main objectives of the SAU. To reiterate, the interdisciplinary activities will be designed to meet the needs for 1) building a culture of understanding and regional consciousness; 2) nurturing a new class of liberal, bright and quality leadership and 3) building the capacity of the region in science, technology and other disciplines considered vital for improving the quality of life of the people. Objectives 2) and 3) for which the SAU has been set up also ensure that the graduates from this University will have the most marketable and relevant skills needed for the region as also for the international job market. Specialization in these niche areas will ensure that the SAU brand name for particular skills would be established and that, in turn, would bestow substantial employment benefits on the youth of the region.

About the University


The idea of establishing a South Asian University (SAU) was mooted by the Prime Minister of India at the 13th SAARC Summit in Dhaka in 2005. The idea was for member countries to pool their resources for creation of a Centre of Excellence in the form of a University that would provide world-class facilities and professional faculty to students and researchers drawn from every country of the SAARC region.

Prof. Gowher Rizvi, the well-known historian, scholar and academic from Bangladesh was entrusted with the task of preparing a Concept Paper for SAU. Prepared after a series of consultations across the SAARC countries, the Concept Paper was submitted to the SAARC Governments to elicit their views. The idea of a South Asian University found favor in all SAARC Member States and an inter-ministerial Agreement for Establishment of South Asian University was signed on 04 April 2007, during the 14th SAARC Summit in New Delhi.

The Government of India established a Project Office of the SAU in the year 2008, of which Prof. GK Chadha, a former Vice Chancellor of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, was appointed the Chief Executive Officer. A SAARC Steering Committee comprising members from all SAARC countries was constituted to oversee the establishment of SAU. Various Inter-Governmental Task Forces were also constituted and entrusted the job of framing the Rules and Regulations to govern the University as also the Academic Structure and the Business Plan for the proposed University. All University documents prepared jointly by the SAU Task Forces were submitted to SAARC Secretariat and were approved in the 16th SAARC Summit held in Thimphu in 2010. The SAU Project Office was wound up and the South Asian University opened its door to students in August 2010. Currently, the University offers doctoral and master's programs in seven areas: Applied Mathematics, Biotechnology, Computer Science, Development Economics, International Relations, Law and Sociology.

The then Indian External Affairs Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, laid the foundation stone of the SAU campus at a 100-acre plot in Maidan Garhi, Mehrauli in South Delhi on 26 May 2008. The job of preparing the architectural design of the campus and building on the campus was entrusted to a Nepalese architecture firm selected through a tough Regional competition. Campus designs have been finalized and various required clearances and approvals have been obtained. The campus construction is due to start in 2014. The capital cost of establishing the SAU is being provided by the Indian government, while all SAARC member countries share the operational costs in proportions that are mutually agreed upon. Later, the University would also raise money from international financial institutions, educational foundations and donors.

A temporary campus of the University was initially set up in few buildings provided gratis by the Jawaharlal Nehru University. The campus was subsequently relocated in 2011 to Akbar Bhawan, Chanakyapuri in south Delhi. University expects to shift to its own residential campus by the year 2016-17.

Degrees and certificates awarded by the South Asian University are recognized by the University Grants Commission in India and by other SAARC countries.

The University will focus overwhelmingly on research and post-graduate level programmes. It will ultimately have 12 post-graduate science and non-science Faculties, as also a Faculty of Undergraduate Studies. At full strength, the SAU will have 7000 students and 700 teachers. A flagship Institute of South Asian Studies will also be established in the University.

Students of the University will be predominantly from the eight SAARC countries. Tuition fees for them are heavily subsidized. Some students from non-SAARC countries may also be admitted on full cost recovery basis.

Teachers of the University will also be predominantly from the eight SAARC Countries, but up to 20% of teachers may be from other countries. To attract quality talent, attractive salary and benefits packages have been designed for teachers.

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