No fund crunch in South Asian University, says president KK Aggarwal

South Asian University president KK Aggarwal said new offshore campuses will be opened in each of the SAARC countries.

SAU's existing campus is located in South Delhi's Maidan Garhi area. (Image: X account)SAU's existing campus is located in South Delhi's Maidan Garhi area. (Image: X account)

Press Trust of India | February 21, 2024 | 03:27 PM IST

NEW DELHI: The South Asian University has started receiving funds from the member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), a step that will help the university to bounce back from its financial crisis, SAU president KK Aggarwal said. In an interview with PTI, Aggarwal said that the university, under his tenure, will focus on controlling the expenditure by attracting more students without scholarships and designing a rational salary structure for teachers.

"The university is supposed to be funded by all the member countries. Others were not paying their share for quite some time. I have spoken to all of them and by and large, their response is that now that things have started improving we are ready to pay," Aggarwal said. The SAU had been functioning without a regular president for nearly four years and the post was filled in December last year.

In the absence of a regular management and lack of funding by the seven SAARC countries other than India, the university was facing extreme financial constraints, Aggarwal said. "If an institute remains headless for that much time it's obvious that it will suffer," Aggarwal said while stating that the governments of all the representative countries are now determined to run the university in a proper manner.

India contributing 53% funds

"We will work on limiting the number of fellowships and scholarships instead of everybody getting it. So a combination of some such things will help us to come to realistic budgets. We will also probably design a more rational salary structure to ensure that the members are not burdened," he added. Excluding India, together the seven SAARC countries -- Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka -- contribute 43 per cent of the total funding to the international institute. India provides 57 per cent of the funding to the institute for running its operations.

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The university plans to utilise the funding to develop infrastructure in its existing campus located in South Delhi's Maidan Garhi area and focus on expansion to set up branches of SAU across India and in the other SAARC countries. "We have recently moved to a new permanent campus. Previously, we were functioning from a rented space. So our first focus is to build the required infrastructure such as hostels for students and academic blocks for the new programmes that are in the pipeline to be rolled out starting this academic year," Aggarwal said.

"We will also look into opening offshore campuses of SAU in each of the SAARC countries using the funds and setting up its branches across India," he added. Earlier in 2022, External affairs minister S Jaishankar had said that some of the SAARC countries had not paid their share of the financial aid to the university due to which the university was facing severe financial constraints.

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