Dr. N. M. Veeraiyan is a brilliant intellectual and academician – a name to be reckoned with in the Education Sector of India. A visionary, he established Saveetha Medical & Educational Trust in 1986, to bloom it into a full-fledged university.
Today, as Chancellor of the prestigious Saveetha University, he is determined to transform it through his excellent vision and tremendous efforts into a top and model university in the world by 2020.
Born in a small village by the name Nalligoundanoor in Erode District, Tamil Nadu, Dr. N. M. Veeraiyan has dedicated his life towards revolutionizing the higher education. His determination, diligence and integrity towards achieving excellence have resulted in the establishment of Saveetha University – one of the leading universities in Tamil Nadu and India.
Steering the university as Founder and Chancellor, Dr. Veeraiyan has created an inspiring centre of learning comprising seven colleges, which – riding on the reputation of providing excellence to their students for the last 29 years – offer academic programmes up to Doctoral level in the fields of health sciences including Medicine, Dental, Physiotherapy, Nursing, and also in Engineering, Law and Management Science.
Proving that “academic excellence is its mainstay”, every year Saveetha University generates excellent academic output in terms of highly sought-out job-ready graduates, several patents and hundreds of citations, in addition to its more than 2,000 Scopus-indexed research articles. All this has been possible because Dr. Veeraiyan has structured Saveetha University with outcomebased education, research-intense ecosystem, world-class infrastructure and good governance. However, striving for accomplishments, he is not satisfied by merely creating a best-in-class university, his insatiable desire is to enable the university reach the loftiest horizon in all academic aspects.
He wishes to transform his university into “a people (society) centered institution of academic excellence focusing on innovations, entrepreneurship, sustainability, and inclusive development of human capital that will contribute to peace and prosperity of the humankind”. Thus, his vision is to establish a stateof-the-art and people-centred model university, where the educational and research programmes will be driven by the society, and which will be tweaked to contribute to the transformation of the society and growth of the nation.
REFORMS TO TRANSFORM
Endowed with remarkable educational philosophy, Dr. Veeraiyan fully understands the emerging needs of the society and the economy, and has instilled the entire spectrum of the university system with demand-driven programmes.
In line with his vision, radical reform is underway focusing on five thrust areas: programmes and students’ development, research and excellence, human capital development, governance, and infrastructure. Thus, he has been instrumental in developing and implementing a dynamic programme delivery process, which is twopronged: it not only caters to the contemporary needs of education, but also takes care of the relevant educational needs in dynamically changing times. As a result, these dynamic programmes have successfully enabled all the constituent institutions of the university to constantly engage both the society and industry throughout the delivery process – right from curricular development through teaching and learning, and research & development, to assessment. Thus, Dr. Veeraiyan is not just preparing simple graduates, he is preparing future national and international leaders equipped with the right mix of technical, business and functional skills to meet the economic and industry targets of tomorrow.
The research programmes also have an in-built entrepreneurship initiative to create innovative entrepreneurs rather than plain graduates. Consequently, he has created a Research Alliance structure, which in turn has created a pool of students and experts who, regardless of their specialization, pursue borderless research programmes resulting in higher number and higher levels of innovation and product development.
Dr. Veeraiyan’s belief that a flexible participatory governance structure and suitable work culture must be aggressively pursued as support for academic reforms for best desirable outcomes, has led to a flattened management structure in the university. This is a major initiative of Dr. Veeraiyan’s administrative reforms, where the flattened management structure has devolved reasonable powers to the respective levels while restoring accountability and responsibility among the workforce.
MILA LEARNING METHOD
Following the MILA (Multiple Interactive Learning Algorithm) system of teaching, Saveetha University has developed one of the best cognitive methods for students pursuing professional education. Dr. Veeraiyan started MILA in 2014 across all professional programmes like medicine, engineering, dental, law, nursing, physiotherapy and management. Under this method, the class size is reduced to 30 to 50 (depending on the course) and the class hour is increased to 90 to 120 minutes with high interactive sessions including practical aspects in various forms to make learning effective. MILA has significantly improved students’ skills, knowledge and professional competence.
GOVERNMENT AND GOVERNANCE
Though the current and previous governments in India have focused on the emerging trends, there is definitely room for further improvement in the higher education sector. It needs to get its act together on long-term policies and strategies. It needs to balance responsibility and efforts of public and private players in the education sector to enhance inclusivity and quality.
Dr. Veeraiyan feels, “Within the government sector, dilapidated buildings/infrastructure, lack of performance-based working system leading to irresponsible faculty members, less research intensity, less innovations are on the rise in majority of public institutions.”
There is an urgent need for the government to set a feasible model similar to one already being followed by most best-in-class and private institutions. He further shares, “Lack of ‘must perform’ condition is probably one of the detrimental factors impeding growth in the public education sector. This is the fundamental reason why students these days prefer private education where, a ‘must-perform’ is the condition, ‘do or die’ is the norm.”
He has been making concerted efforts towards reinforcing effective implementation strategies and mechanisms so that quality educational evolution becomes organic.
CONVENTIONS VS FUTURE
The world is rapidly changing and so is the educational sector nationally and internationally. Knowledge economy is replacing the conventional economy.
The future is in innovation, dynamism and competition. All three provide lifeblood to living and thriving institutions such as universities. Equipped with extraordinary resources and the right mindset, Dr. Veeraiyan is ready to revolutionize the education system in India. “A 360-degree comprehensive assessment system fostering desirable levels of quantifiable educational attainment & the resultant impact the institutions create for the welfare of people, growth of the nation and wellbeing of the economic sectors are very much essential to pave the way for measurable growth of the education sector,” he maintains. Three major things Dr. Veeraiyan wishes to change in the current education system are: open-ended, less-prescriptive and competitive educational programmes; flexible educational system and accountable educational establishments; and comprehensive assessment pattern which truly credits the contributions made by the educational institutions.
BUSY AND INVOLVED
Saveetha University graduates do not exit the gates of the institution and enter the competitive world as just another heap of unemployed dead weight who are a liability to the nation, they confidently walk out as ready to create lifelines and backbones in various economic sectors. In possession of an unparalleled vision in the education sector, Dr. Veeraiyan is known as a perfectionist who would go to any extent to promote quality & excellence.