What will a university focusing on Artificial Intelligence teach and how?

At Universal AI University, even economics, psychology programmes will have a focus on artificial intelligence.

With special focus on artificial intelligence and its uses in different fields, its maiden academic year starts this August.With special focus on artificial intelligence and its uses in different fields, its maiden academic year starts this August.

Sheena Sachdeva | July 11, 2023 | 08:31 PM IST

NEW DELHI: Just three months ago Universal AI University, received the green signal from University Grant Commission and Maharashtra Government. With special focus on artificial intelligence and its uses in different fields, its maiden academic year starts this August. Tarun Anand, chancellor and founder of Universal AI University, spoke to Careers360 on the AI revolution and how it’s changing education in India. Edited excerpts below.

Q. Why a standalone AI university?

A. In 2018, I was attending a Quacquarelli Symonds [QS] conference and I heard professors from Stanford and MIT discussing their universities working on some crazy and innovative things on AI and how it’s dramatically changing businesses. I was fascinated with the potential of machines and how they can do mundane tasks.

At that point, artificial intelligence [AI] was not as popular as it is now. Initially, we were a business school that wanted to go to a multidisciplinary world. But later, we thought of a university focussed on AI because it could transform society, businesses and professions. Further, through the years, we have witnessed the transformation. We had yet to hear of ChatGPT or large language models back then. But now these are commonly used.

Q. How innovative will teaching be at the university?

A. The vision is to create leaders who will be ethical and responsible and contribute to society. As AI is an integral part, we have thought about how we can transform the lives of our students and careers. Therefore, in the first year students will have foundational learning on AI, machine learning [ML], internet of things [IoT] and virtual reality [VR] or augmented reality [AR] and mixed reality [MR]. We want to equip students with the potential of these technologies. And this goes for every field, whether psychology, commerce, or science. These subjects are important because these technologies will transform how we live.

We foresee that only a few students will be excited to learn and others might want to know the basics of these technologies. In the third year, all students have to work on AI’s impact on social sciences and liberal arts including implications for and applications in these fields.

Through these technologies people are training their language models with some intuition and data facts. As you keep doing this, your engine becomes more effective. Therefore, your outcomes will become better. Tomorrow, doctors, commerce graduates and others will use these language models for their work.

Over 50 percent of the entire programme will be based on working in labs or experiential models that don’t exist in India.

Q. What courses are offered and how are they different from other courses in premier institutes?

A. We are offering BSc AI/ML, BSc Business Analytics, BA Hons in Economics and BA Hons in Psychology, and global BBA in partnership with Cardiff University, UK.

The innovation is not in the course title but in the new academic model. It has four components: 50 percent of classroom learning; 30-40 percent experiential learning, depending on the course; community learning, where experts will inject their knowledge to make the course contemporary; and the fourth component is self-learning including online learning through platforms. These four components will ensure learning holistically. This is the differentiating factor.

The second innovation is in the multidisciplinary nature of the programme. All commerce, science, or business management courses will be studying different disciplines. For instance, BSc in AI students will study psychology, law, and other subjects unavailable at other institutes. The first year is the foundation year and every graduate has to go through all the multidisciplinary subjects.

Third is skill development which will be monitored with credits. For instance, a student can take up a course on negotiation skills that will be a 40-hour practical course that will be assessed. We want to make our students skilled.

Next is the Collaborative-Multidisciplinary Approach towards Problem Solving (C-MAPS). Students will spend two months on the module. We will have two C-MAPS for every student in the undergraduate courses. In this, students will get a problem statement from the industry and they have to solve it. Through this, students will be skilled and will get hired.

Further, each student also has to publish a research paper to show academic integrity and rigour. This is mandatory for undergraduate students as well.

We plan to open four new schools in law, design, sports sciences and geopolitics next year. Further PhDs will be offered for the business, science and liberal arts schools with an essential focus on technology.

Q. How are you admitting students?

A. We have three criteria: 50 percent weightage to academic marks; 25 percent to exam marks, either of CUET or SAT; and 25 percent to the personal interview. Till now, we have received 500 applications for undergraduate courses and over 2,000 postgraduate applications. For now, we have selected 360 students for the postgraduate courses and around 20-25 students for the undergraduate courses. All this is still in progress.

Q. What are you doing for research on new technologies?

A. We have set up a quantum computing lab on our campus, including AR, VR, and MR labs, where students will have hands-on tools to experiment with. We have also set-up an IoT lab. We have also partnered with Witty Foundation as experts in AI technology who are already working with us on live projects from the industry. We have also partnered with Wadhwani Foundation to set up an entrepreneurship incubator.

Q. What is your take on the changes in education policy and UGC and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) regulations?

A. We have a bias towards the industry and when the Professors of Practice was introduced, we were delighted to hear the announcement. Even at Universal Business School, another subsidiary, 60 percent of our faculty are from industry with significant experience.

The National Education Policy is a fantastic move focusing on skill development that wasn’t there earlier. Further, the Academic Bank of Credits is another good approach so that students accumulate credits and move within their fields along with multiple exit and entry. All this allows them
to choose the best courses that interest them.

The Maharashtra government has asked us to implement NEP.

The issue of low gross enrolment ratio in higher education is getting more states to liberalise and start more universities. I am glad that new universities are considering the needs of our country along with the private sector contributing to the area. We need to make it more liberal and flexible so that innovation can thrive in the industry. Further, opening up foreign universities is another great step in this direction. But we will have to make a level-playing field between foreign and Indian universities so everybody can compete.

Initially, we were a business school that wanted to go to a multidisciplinary world. But later, we thought of a university focussed on AI because it could transform society, businesses and professions

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