Krea University is preparing a generation for the future, says founder

Krea University started with a ‘clean slate’, offering a new curriculum; arts, science, business courses; skills like data science; scholarships.

Krea University is preparing a generation for the future, says founder Kapil Viswanathan, founder, Krea University
Pritha Roy Choudhury | Jul 21, 2022 - 2:38 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: Established in 2018, Krea University will have its first batch graduating this year. In a conversation with Careers360, Kapil Viswanathan, one of the founders, spoke about how Krea was set up to prepare a generation for a changing world.

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Q. How was Krea founded and what was the vision behind it?

A. With the speed at which the world is changing, much of what we know and believe is changing foundationally. In response to such a rapidly-changing world, we felt we needed to work on what the future would look like so that somebody growing up today can prepare for the future. That was the motivation for Krea. Krea’s mission is to help humanity prepare for an unpredictable world.

Q. What sort of future are Krea’s students entering?

A. Our first undergraduate batch started in 2019 and is graduating this year. That batch is just turning into alumni and they are going for very exciting career options as well as higher education in some of the top universities. Many of them are also staying back in Krea for further studies. Some of them have got very interesting and lucrative jobs. Our business school and MBA programme have been around for many years. There we have around 5,000 alumni. They are all mostly in consulting, technology and finance roles and some of them are entrepreneurs.

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Q. Krea grew out of the Institute of Financial Management and Research (IFMR). How did that change happen?

A. Education had not evolved that much in the last, say, 100 years. Also because universities are structures where the process of change is quite slow. To make a 10 percent change in the curriculum in one of the top universities in the world will probably take decades. Whereas here we had the opportunity of starting with a clean slate, defining an entirely new curriculum which was designed to respond to the changing world of today and tomorrow. We saw that the world was changing and that academia was not responding fast enough. So, we felt that we needed to create an institution that was designed for a changing world.

Q. What is planned for Krea’s future?

A. Now, we have an undergraduate programme and a business programme. The plan over the next three to five years is to introduce research and PhD components in a big way. We are also looking at executive education – what we would broadly call professional learning programmes for people who are currently employed and want to enhance their abilities.

Q. Will these be online or offline?

A. It will be blended. We feel that a cohort-based blended model will probably be the one that can have a good impact on working professionals. And that is an area where we are looking at a large number of new programmes. We are looking at students from India for the moment but we do have partnerships with universities abroad and with the ability to take this on a more global platform for now we are working on India working professionals.

Q. Krea has a ‘School of Interwoven Arts and Sciences’ which also offers undergraduate courses. How are these undergraduate courses structured?

A. When we started with the undergraduate programmes, we wanted to start with a clean slate. We have a core curriculum that all students coming into the undergraduate programme have to take and this spans a variety of skills like data science on one hand and philosophy and creative expression on the other. So there is a wide gamut of core required courses that all students have to take and this is the foundation upon which we are building the core majors that the students will then choose in their second year.

Q. How do you admit students?

A. There are two stages to the admission process. In the first stage, the students apply online with their full backgrounds of academic and non-academic credentials and accomplishments. The admission committee reviews and next calls the shortlisted applicants for what we call immersion cases. This is a whole day of immersion in Krea where applicants work in groups of 10 or 12 along with one or two of our faculty members to define and work on a problem. This is a whole day of engagement with applicants which gives us a very good window into how the applicants think and who will be a good fit for Krea’s approach to learning.

Q. Krea’s fees seem to be pretty high. How do you ensure diversity in the classroom?

A. We encourage students from all income backgrounds to apply and almost a quarter of our students are on scholarships and many of them are on full scholarships. We also pay for their living expenses, transport, laptops and so on. Diversity of the student body is very important for us. And we recognise that people from only certain income strata can pay the full fee. So, we do have a very large scholarship programme. The scholarships are entirely need-based. Most of the time the university funds such students and many of our donors come forward very generously to support scholarships for students from lower-income backgrounds. Again I will say that the scholarships are fully need-based and not merit-based. We have a financial aid committee which finally decides on the financial aid to be awarded to the student.

Q. Will Krea participate in new government initiatives like the Academic Bank of Credit (ABC) or the Common University Entrance Test (CUET)?

A. [On the ABC] Certainly, we would. But from a National Education Policy (NEP) implementation standpoint, it is a question of bringing on board a whole variety of institutions to come to do this because it is a network effect. There is no point in Krea saying okay we have an academic bank of credit. Because anyway our students have that. So unless hundred other institutions across the country also do that, the concept does not come to life.

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We really did not have any discussions on that. We will follow whatever the government asks us to follow. For us, as of now, there is no change in our current way of admission. If the government mandates something, we will follow that.

Our first undergraduate batch started in 2019 and is graduating this year. That batch is just turning into alumni and they are going for very exciting career options as well as higher education in some of the top universities.

We encourage students from all income backgrounds to apply and almost a quarter of our students are on scholarships and many of them are on full scholarships. We also pay for their living expenses, transport, laptops and so on.


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