Talks on BASE, London School of Economics collaboration going on well: Bhanumurthy

92% of first batch get placed; six research projects underway
Last Updated : 25 June 2022, 23:15 IST

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Economist N R Bhanumurthy is the first vice-chancellor of a fledgling Dr BR Ambedkar School of Economics (BASE), a university that had Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurate its new campus earlier this week. Bhanumurthy tells DH’s Rashmi Belur how BASE, modelled after the London School of Economics (LSE), is trying to carve its own niche. Excerpts:

What was the need for BASE? And, how is it different from other state-run universities?

This university was initiated during Dr Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary when there was a discussion on the need for a specialised economics university in southern India. Most universities are Delhi- or Mumbai-centric. Bengaluru, being a pioneer in the education sector, had a vacuum when it came to economics. BASE got university status in 2019. We’ve completed four years and the first batch graduated in May 2022. Though it is state-run, BASE has national character. We get students from across India, while 60% of seats are reserved for those from Karnataka. Because we also have an international character, we’re planning to admit overseas students this academic year.

What are the courses offered and the admission process?

Last year, admission was through Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS) based on a written test. Before that, we conducted a test ourselves. Now, we’ve decided to admit students through the Central Universities Common Entrance Test (CUCET). We’re the only state university that’s a part of CUCET. We offer a 3-year BSc in economics. We’ve now introduced our flagship 5-year integrated programme. The basic requirement to get admission is that a student should have studied mathematics in II PU, because economics is more of a science. So, one can’t study it without knowledge of mathematics and computer science. We’ve also introduced a 2-year masters programme. We have plans to introduce MSc in financial economics.

Does BASE have any expansion plans?

This is a completely residential university. Even if a student from Bengaluru enrols, s/he must stay on campus. The PM inaugurated phase one and we’re looking for phase two of the campus. Our target is to have at least 1,000 students on campus in the coming years. Currently, we have 250 students.

Where does BASE stand currently? Was there any hand holding that LSE provided?

We had 92% of our students from the first batch get placed. This is a big achievement and milestone for a young university. There’s a lot of demand for our students. We had some discussions with LSE and they’re progressing well. LSE has many centres and we’re planning to collaborate on research and co-guideship. At the institute level, we’re planning online courses with them.

What’s the socio-economic profile of students, given that BASE is positioned on a par with LSE, while being affordable.

Definitely. The fee is Rs 1.25 lakh per annum, including accommodation. We follow the government’s reservation policy and there are scholarships available. For SC/ST students, fees will be refunded by the government. We have made knowledge of Kannada compulsory. For those who do not know Kannada or Hindi, we have a basic course comprising both.

Give us a sense of research work at BASE

Being a new university, we’re trying to give some time to our faculty to do research. Otherwise, it’ll be like any other college. The basic objective is to be seen as a research university, not as a student-producing one. Like LSE, we’d also like to be known for research. We’ve started taking sponsored projects. Currently, we’ve six research projects, including two from UNICEF and one from RBI. We’re already into public policy-making. The last two union budgets were actually based on our studies. We also contributed to the Karnataka economic survey.

Published 25 June 2022, 22:42 IST

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