University education in India for an individual is a privilege, a tool that can boost globalization and advanced learning among young individuals. A University is also a place for teaching and learning, research and technological progress of social change and the development of the society. As we all know, Indian society has always invested many resources on the right education from the beginning, and the likes of Takshila University, Nalanda University, which are among the oldest universities on earth are living proofs of quality university education existing in India way before anyone had the slightest idea of what technological advancement means. Thereby, continuing on the journey of imparting quality-filled education and knowledge to the masses even today, renowned universities such as OP Jindal University, Raigarh are progressing as go-to destinations for many educational aspirants, guiding them to success-filled careers of tomorrow. Thus, taking us on a virtual tour of OP Jindal University, Raigarh, the Chancellor – Ms. Shallu Jindal, addressed all the questions posed to her, and gave us clear insights into the ethos present on the university campus.
What was the idea behind the creation of OP Jindal University in Raigarh, Chhattisgarh, in pursuit of becoming a prominent name in higher education in Central India?
OP Jindal University, Raigarh is a tribute to the people of Chhattisgarh in memory of Shri Om Prakash Jindalji, Founder of OP Jindal Group, who has left behind a rich legacy. He believed in giving back to people first, and his contributions to society have impacted millions of lives during his lifespan.
Babuji believed that a nation can only prosper when all sections of the society are at par with each other.. This is why he spent a lot of his time alleviating poverty and boosting the under-privileged sections of society.
As a member of the Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) family, I am aware that we owe the success of the OP Jindal Group to all those people who have contributed immensely to its endeavours and are committed to its mission. In order to show our gratitude, we established this University that resonates with the passion, dedication and sacrifice that Babuji embodied. Our mission to empower the youth of Chhattisgarh aligned with the vision of the State Government to make higher education accessible to those coming from remote areas of the State, and so OPJU was established in Raigarh. Here, we hope to engage the younger generations in Chhattisgarh and surrounding states in higher education that trains them into a talented and multi-skilled workforce. India is no longer lagging behind in providing world-class education, and the only way to boost Indian economy and industry is to transform the industry from the ground up, which means investing in the education and skill-building of today’s Indian youth.
What initiatives have been taken to ensure world-class skill development at OPJU, in turn, making students’ industry-ready?
At OPJU, our classroom learning follows contemporary pedagogies and effectively combines it with blended learning format, project management, case studies, etc. to enhance the skills of the students. We collaborate with over 50+ industries who provide expertise and exposure that complements the practical learning atmosphere for the students.
To impart world-class skill development, we have designed a very progressive industry-linked and research-focused curriculum, with inputs from industry experts and academic leaders. We have also taken into consideration various aspects of emerging technologies and industry 4.0 while designing the curriculum and course pedagogy.
We understand that companies are currently looking favourably at those with industry-ready skill sets, so we do emphasize comprehensive experiential learning at OPJU. At the same time, we are also aware that our students seek to rise in their respective careers, probably transgressing multiple areas and specialization, so we also ensure that our students are exposed to a multitude of environments for students to gain invaluable experience in various industries.
We have also introduced long-term internships at OPJU, some of which are paid opportunities, where students can spend a semester learning in the industry.This way students will be able to gain invaluable experience to get a better understanding of applications of academic theories in industrial scenarios. Even during the pandemic, we have strived to abide by the UGC and All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) guidelines without compromising on quality education. We collaborated with leading corporates and companies, and encouraged our students to adapt and avail of the various internship models that we made accessible to them, including virtual and Work from Home (WFH) formats.
In addition to preparing skilled professionals, what additional things is OPJU doing to instill social responsibility in their students?
Higher education plays a very important formative role as an adult and a citizen. We meet these young, impressionable minds fresh out of school and along with their formal education, we are also responsible for teaching them how to become functioning adults in the society, how to think about themselves and others, and to understand their role in their life and in the world. When our graduates go out into the world as professionals and adults, we hope that their understanding and commitment to their social responsibilities are congruent with the ethics that are inculcated in them during their years at OPJU.
Here, at OPJU, our mission is to create professionals who not only have the required skills but also the appropriate work ethics to create a productive work environment. We encourage them to practice empathy and sensitivity towards others. Various events and club activities are organized to connect students with elements of the environment and other aspects of social & cultural life.
We host a very active National Service Scheme (NSS) chapter at the university which regularly organizes events like blood donation camps and other social help initiatives. The University Cultural Club which organizes the celebration of festivals on campus provides opportunities for students to form communities and become familiar with other cultures in India. We also have volunteering clubs that organize cleanness drives, plantation drives and motivate students to maintain a more hygienic and green campus. All these initiatives create a sense of belongingness among the students and inculcate a strong sense of culture and responsibility towards society and nation as well.
We would like our technical and management graduates to believe in excellence, which is a continuous journey toward perfection. We want our students to become role models for society in their own way, and to keep contributing and giving back to society once they start a professional career.
How is OPJU assuaging parents that their wards are in a protected and safe learning environment at Raigarh?
At OPJU we are committed to gender equality and diversity within our student population. We are particularly committed to strengthening education amongst females, especially in this part of the country. Although, in most engineering colleges in India, female students form less than 26% of the total student population, we are fortunate that a good number of female students from different states across India come to OPJU to fulfil their dream of higher education. This is because we have built a campus and neighbourhood that is nurturing and safe for all students. The University has separate residential facilities for female and male students which nurtures all students with love, care, and safety of home.
Our hall of residence is equipped with modern and necessary amenities like a dining area, reading room, TV room, games room, etc. in secure and safe premises within the campus. Security personnel along with 24X7 CCTV surveillance is available on the campus.
I am happy to share that since the very beginning of OPJU, we have been able to inspire confidence among parents from across the country to send their children to study at the OPJU campus in Raigarh. We are resolute in our commitment to providing the best facilities and a secure learning atmosphere for all our students at OPJU.
How has the impressive industry-academia relationships existing at OPJU, facilitated easy placement opportunities for all the students, despite the global pandemic?
The pandemic was a stressful period for everyone. The nation saw a lot of loss of life and no one was untouched with widespread economic and social loss.
OPJU family stood in solidarity with the society, especially those who were severely affected. Thankfully, we were able to expand our list of recruiters from regulars such as the OP Jindal group companies including JSPL, JPL, JSW, and JSL, to others such as Fronius, Amazon, Rubikon, Indus Enterprise, Zenus, JustDial, Aditya Infotech, Nagarro Software, and many more.
OPJU undertook a challenging but successful campaign for placements and internships during this difficult time. There were two major hurdles to overcome – inviting companies to conduct the entire recruitment process online, and preparing the students for the new model of virtual online recruitment drives. Our careers team spent relentless hours with the students in conducting mock interviews, offline and online in-house training, group discussions, webinars with industry experts and professionals, to prepare them and it was immensely rewarding to see the results in the end.
The placement seasons in OPJU during 2019-20 and 2021-2022 ended with approximately 85% being placed. B Tech/M tech and Management students were placed in prominent corporations across the country. The average salary offered to students was about Rs. 6 Lacs per Annum. During the pandemic period, one of our students qualified for Amazon India with a whopping package of Rs. 33 Lacs Per Annum.
We feel that this challenging time was successfully navigated because of the staff’s proper guidance and the students’ resolute mindset which helped them perform extremely well and achieve their dream careers.
How is OPJU helping students from economically weaker sections of the society – continue with their learning journeys?
Shri O.P. Jindal believed that giving financial support towards education is the best possible way to strengthen the underprivileged section of society. In this way, they can come forward and fully realize their potential, uplift themselves, their families, and their whole community.
OPJU, with the support of parent organizations JSPL and JSPL Foundation provides a range of entry-level and merit-cum-means scholarships to deserving students who come from financially weaker backgrounds. The scholarship extends up to Rs. 75000 per annum depending upon the eligibility criteria of students.
OPJU students are also eligible for appearing in one of the most prestigious national-level Scholarships named OP Jindal Engineering & Management Scholarships (OPJEMS).
These scholarships serve as a stepping stone for talented students so that their skills and aptitude can get the right exposure and recognition instead of suffering due to economic paucity. In the end, these promising students succeed on their own merit and hard work, the scholarships are only to ensure that financial limitations do not become a hindrance for any deserving student of OPJU, Raigarh.