In a major boost for Indian railways, the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the Ministry of Railways' initiative to set up the first ever National Rail and Transport University (NRTU).
The premier institution will be situated at Vadodara in Gujarat, the prime minister's home state. The ministry of railways in a tweet said that the university will skill human resources and build the capability of Indian Railways.
The university will be set up as a Deemed University under de novo category as per the UGC [Institutions Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2016. The government is working towards completing all approvals by April 2018 and to launch the first academic programme in July 2018.
''India's 1st National Rail & Transportation University to transform Indian railway and transport sector for a New India,'' the tweet added.
The rail university aims to skill manpower for the rail and transport sector, foster innovative entrepreneurship, generate large-scale employment opportunities and faster movement of people and goods.
The ministry tweeted that the rail university will boost skill India, Start Up India and Make in India projects as well as transform railway and transportation sector. The first of its kind university will create employment and improve productivity as per the government. It is also expected to help in skill upgrading programmes to provide gainful employment for the youth.
The National Rail and Transportation University has been formally approved after three years of virtual standstill. The first batch of students is set to start classes in June next year. According to reports, PM Modi is taking a keen and personal interest in the development of the railways university.
Modi and the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) have been pushing the Railways to draw up a roadmap and start the project, but the railways ministry's progress has been slow at best. In the last three months, railways minister Piyush Goyal and railway board chairman Ashwani Lohani had taken it up says an Indian Express report.
Indian Railways will float the company, as opposed to an earlier plan of getting one of its PSUs to do it. Internally named National Rail Transport University (NRTU), the proposed institution will have its base at the National Academy of Indian Railways (NAIR) in Vadodara, Gujarat. It will offer courses on all transport-related streams.
Pramath Sinha, founding dean of the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, and co-founder of Ashoka University, has been drafted to advise the government on how to set up the university, and what shape it should take to be a future-ready centre for excellence in transport-infrastructure engineering. Private players may also be roped in to partner with the running of the university at a later stage, sources were quoted saying by IE.
A not-for-profit company under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013 will be created by the ministry of railways, which will be the managing company of the proposed university. The company will provide financial and infrastructural support to the university, and appoint chancellor and pro-chancellor of the university.
The board of management, comprising professionals and academics, shall be independent of the Managing Company with full autonomy to perform its academic and administrative responsibilities.
Existing land and infrastructure at National Academy of Indian Railways (NAIR) at Vadodara, Gujarat will be utilized, and suitably modified and modernized for the purpose of the university. In its full enrolment, it is expected to have 3,000 full time students. The funding of the new university is to entirely come from Ministry of Railways.
The university plans to use latest pedagogy and technology applications (satellite based tracking, Radio Frequency Identification and Artificial Intelligence) to improve on-the-job performance and productivity.