As we come to the end of another highly demanding year, it is wonderful to look back at how Ashokans overcame numerous challenges and set new standards across various functions. I am delighted to share the highlights of 2021 for Admissions, Outreach, Financial Aid, Communications, AshokaX and other online activities, and the Ashoka Sutra initiative.
Admissions, Outreach and Financial Aid
The Undergraduate Outreach team reached out to over 850 schools in 185 cities across 27 Indian states. Applications came in from over 2000 schools in over 400 cities, and the final UG Class of 2024 has students from over 425 schools in over 100 cities, reflecting Ashoka’s commitment to continuous enhancement of diversity. Digital initiatives included webinars on several key topics as well as “Scientifically Speaking”, a series of lectures by eminent faculty and scientists to promote Ashoka’s unique Sciences programme.
The YIF Outreach team conducted a series of innovative activities (including “A Day at the YIF”, Masterclasses with YIF faculty, welcome videos and congratulatory calls and alumni podcasts) to attract and retain a sterling class of 200 Fellows. Applications came in from over 400 cities in all Indian states and 9 other countries, and the Class of 2022 has Fellows from leading Indian and international universities and prominent organizations across sectors belonging to 85 locations across 28 states.
The MA (English) and MA (Economics) programmes attracted strong interest, and formed cohorts having high-calibre students from many well-known institutions.
The efforts of the Admissions and Outreach teams have led to a student body which is among the most interesting and diverse in India, consisting of exceptional students from a range of socio-economic backgrounds pursuing the gamut of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities in addition to academic excellence.
The Financial Aid team engaged with a larger number of applications than ever before, and handled them with thoroughness and sensitivity. Over 49% of the students who joined Ashoka in 2021 are on some form of aid, with approximately 22% receiving aid equal to 100% tuition or higher.
Communications More than 200 stories about Ashoka appeared in the media, including op-eds by members of the faculty and the administration, important announcements (like the new campus and Ashoka’s position in India’s top 5 private universities in the QS Asia Rankings and admissions to various programmes), impact stories and others. Ashoka continues to be the first port of call for media for views on important issues.
Ashoka’s social media platforms continue to grow. The university now has over 53,000 followers on Linkedin and over 10,000 each on Instagram and Twitter. Significant initiatives included Ashoka’s Research Quest, Ashoka Book Tower, Centres at Ashoka, Careers after Ashoka, and numerous stories on different departments, offices, faculty activities and student activities..
Ashoka’s new website will launch shortly. Contemporary, visually appealing and user-friendly, it will be a fitting showcase for Ashoka’s march towards its goal of being one of the finest universities in the world.
Ashoka Reflections, the Ashoka newsletter, was revamped to feature blogs, interviews and detailed writeups on happenings at Ashoka.
Extensive photography and videography was done and over 200 videos produced for departments and offices across Ashoka.
AshokaX and Ashoka’s online presence
Ashoka’s online initiatives helped it convey the depth and power of its approach to education to a much larger audience than just physical outreach could have achieved.
AshokaX, the university’s virtual education platform, brought several innovative offerings to online learners of all age groups – Horizons for high school students, Academy for older learners, Weekend Seminars for audiences seeking short but intense immersions in a topic, and Beyond the Classroom for a general audience.
Apart from numerous Ashoka faculty members (including Chancellor Rudrangshu Mukherjee), Peter Bergen (award-winning journalist and the world’s leading expert on Afghanistan and Osama Bin Laden), Maya Jasanoff (Coolidge Professor of History at Harvard and Chair of the 2021 Booker Prize Committee), and Somak Raychaudhury (Director of the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune) were among the eminent speakers and faculty on the AshokaX platform.
Further, the university signed an MOU with Coursera, the world’s leading platform for virtual education, providing it with access to the latest knowledge in the field and the ability to reach learners outside India.
Several distinctive AshokaX offerings are being developed and will be online in 2022, including the university’s first MOOC (in History), the first Behavioural Science certificate course in India developed by the Centre for Social and Behaviour Change (CSBC), and modular certificate programmes in different disciplines.
The university also launched the Ashoka Inspire Lectures, a biannual series of talks by global speakers on interdisciplinary topics. The inaugural lecture, titled Darwin and the Descent of Woman, was delivered by Professor Dame Gillian Beer, who was in conversation with Vice Chancellor Prof. Malabika Sarkar.
The Ashoka Sutra Initiative
As Ashoka grows rapidly, the sustenance of its values and culture has become vital. A programme called Ashoka Sutra was rolled out to promote the five core Ashoka values – Be Mission Driven and Authentic, Think Strategically and Creatively, Build Collaboration with Trust & Respect, Accountability & Drive for Results, and Service Excellence.
The Ashoka Sutra initiative was launched on the 3rd of August with a town hall featuring Vice Chancellor Prof. Malabika Sarkar and founders Ashish Dhawan, Pramath Sinha and Vineet Gupta. Over the next three months, a series of interactive workshops conducted by nominated Culture Champions and HODs took Ashoka staff through the Ashoka values and sought their inputs on how to improve Ashoka’s culture. The workshops received an enthusiastic response from participants for their open and collaborative nature. Many other exciting initiatives in three areas – Routines, HR and Branding – will be rolled out in 2022.
On behalf of the Admissions, Outreach, Financial Aid, Communications, AshokaX and Ashoka Sutra teams, I wish all Ashokans a happy, safe and healthy 2022. Let’s hope we can meet in person very soon.
Vice President, External Engagement