Kerala’s Digital University aims to bring academics, industry together

Digital University, Kerala
Digital University, Kerala. Photo: Pinarayi Vijayan/Facebook

The Digital University of Kerala set up by the state government has received recognition from the University Grants Commission (UGC). But what are its goals? Dr Saji Gopinath, Vice-Chancellor of the university, explains.

“At present, students pursuing digital courses follow a linear method – they do an internship in some company towards the end of the course. However, this method has several limitations. The Digital University is envisaged as an institution that seamlessly brings the academic sector and industry together during the entire course period,” he says.

The new university seeks to bring about such changes in the educational sector by setting up facilities for studies and research of international standards. 

During the first phase, the university will offer five MSc and four MTech programmes. As soon as they join, students would be assigned to the rural areas for the preliminary induction programme to help them realise the digital challenges faced by ordinary people. This is intended to enable them to acquire the mindset to solve such issues.

For the short-term certificate and diploma courses on e-governance, the university will offer a hybrid programme that includes evening classes and online sessions. Meanwhile, subjects such as Digital Innovation, Design Thinking and Customer Orientation would be compulsory for all students.

The Digital University of Kerala was set up by upgrading the Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management – Kerala (IIITM-K) which functioned at Technopark in Thiruvananthapuram. The Digital University, which has its campus at Technocity in Pallippuram, Thiruvananthapuram, has no affiliated colleges.

After having received the UGC nod, the Digital University is now seeking the approval of the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) for GATE scholarship for its MTech students.

New age MSc, M Tech

Digital University offers five MSc programmes. While four of them are Computer Science courses with specializations in Data Analytics, Geospatial Analytics, Machine Intelligence and Cyber Security, the fifth is an MSc in Ecological Informatics.

Meanwhile, four MTech programmes are available at the School of Electronics. They are Artificial Intelligence (Hardware), Industry 4.0 and Networks and Machine Learning under Computer Science.

Applications for these courses are likely to be invited in May. Science graduates can apply for MSc courses and BTech or MSc holders can do so for MTech. The classes are expected to start in August. 

Digital University would be offering mostly residential programmes. For more details, login to

PhD programmes

There would be four different PhD programmes at Digital University. They are: 

1) Regular full-time PhD.

2) Integrated PhD, combining MSc and PhD. Students enrolled on this programme can start work on their PhD during the second year of their MSc course itself, saving seven months.

3) Part-time PhD, in which candidates have to spend a certain time on the campus.

4) Industry regular PhD, which is the most innovative programme. Only people who are already part of the industry can enrol and candidates need to attend sessions on the campus for only a few weeks at the start of the programme. There will be two guides – one from the University and the other from the industry. Moreover, the PhD topic has to be related to the industry. People who are holding top positions in companies giving importance to research can be guides. This would also enable them to switch to the academic sector in future.

Big role for industry

Five per cent of the content in all the courses offered by the Digital University would be led by prominent figures from companies. This is intended to strengthen the academic – industry tie-up. In addition, each department would have an academic board, industry board and international board. Each of these boards would have representation in the board of studies.

Apart from academic matters, the university would take up consultancy projects on contract for the government and private companies. Such work is already being done by IIITM-K. While the government grant and fees cover only 35 per cent of IIITM-K’s expenses, the remaining 65 per cent is met from such works. These live projects also offer an opportunity for students to be part of the contract work carried out by the faculty.

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