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.