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India inaugurates its first digital university

The Indian state of Kerala recently inaugurated the country’s first Digital University, the Kerala University of Digital Sciences, Innovation and Technology (KUDSIT). The launch is part of the state’s resolve to embrace new technologies and become a global hub for higher learning and technology.

The university is based in Technocity at Mangalapuram. Kerala Governor, Arif Mohammed Khan, noted that changes in the fourth industrial revolution are likely to disrupt conventional modules of work and business. The Digital University is expected to provide intellectual support to leverage the opportunities that arise through artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, data analytics, and other digital transformation courses.

According to a news report, the Digital University has been set up by upgrading the two-decade-old Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management Kerala (IIITM-K), a centre of excellence in information technologies established by the state government.

The university aims to be a futuristic institution of higher learning, aspiring to set a global benchmark in digital technologies and management. It will focus is on postgraduate programmes and research and intends to build strong industry-academic and academic-academic connections with leading institutions, both domestic and international. It aims to utilise advancements in technology for social progress.

The university will start with five schools of knowledge: computer science and engineering, digital sciences, electronic systems and automation, informatics, and digital humanities and liberal arts. The courses will cover the scientific, technological, and humanitarian aspects of the digital world.

Each school will offer Master-level programmes in computer science, informatics, applied electronics, and humanities with various options for specialisation. The adoption of technology in design, pedagogy, and assessment is also a key driving factor for the new university, which focuses on early learners and re-learners with a host of programmes in cutting-edge areas of technology.

Towards this, specialised centres in areas like blockchain, AI, machine learning (ML), cybersecurity, big data analytics, biocomputing, and geospatial analytics will be established in collaboration with leading international academic, research, and industry bodies. The university will also lead the Digital Transformation Initiatives announced by the Kerala government in the 2021 Budget.

Sprawled across the 10-acre campus in Technocity, the first phase of the university has been completed with an academic and a hostel block. Once fully developed, it will provide education to 1,200 residential scholars from its campus, in addition to numerous learners, who will be associated with the university through various technological means.

Recently, global IT leader, TCS, announced it is investing to expand operations in Kerala and has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Technopark to lease 97 acres of land at its Technocity campus to set up a digital hub for engineering, product development, and IT services across manufacturing, defence, and aerospace sectors with a focus on new generation technologies.

A news report explained that TCS intends to complete the first phase of the project over the next 22-28 months, which is expected to generate 5,000 jobs. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, in whose presence the MoU was exchanged, said that the TCS investment comes at a time when big IT companies have either cancelled or postponed their plans to commit big money for expansion.

When complete, the project would generate 20,000 direct jobs which the Chief Minister said will represent a major stride in the state’s quest to become a knowledge economy. The TCS hub will focus on new technologies like AI/ML, Internet of Things (IoT), data analytics, and blockchain.

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