SOA marches ahead with focus on quality education and research

Prof. Pradipta Kumar Nanda
Vice-Chancellor, Siksha ‘O’ Anusandhan (Deemed to be University

A socially inclusive institution of higher education, Siksha ‘O’ Anusandhan (SOA) in Bhubaneswar has been churning out professionals in varied fields ready for the requirements and new age challenges of different sectors. However, the core belief at SOA has been that a centre of higher learning must ignite the desire in the student to go through the process of learning not to get a job, but illuminate the society with his or her learning. The society’s need today, SOA feels, is of more number of people with humanitarian views who can think for others pushing aside their own ambitions.

SOA came into existence on July 17, 2007 when the HRD Ministry conferred on it the status of a Deemed to be University under Section 3 of the UGC Act, 1956. It has emerged today as a centre of superlative professional education with its focus on research.

The multi-campus infrastructure of SOA is home to more than 15,000 students, including from other countries, who have chosen the Deemed to be University to chart out a future for themselves.
Though just over a decade and half old, SOA has continuously figured in the list of top universities of the country as per the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) ranking having found place in the top 20 institutions of higher education on six occasions since 2016.

SOA was ranked 15th in the country by NIRF in 2023. NAAC, which has termed SOA as socially inclusive, has re-accredited it in 2022 with the highest grade of A++. In September 2017, three programs of SOA’s faculty of engineering and technology were accredited by the prestigious Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), an internationally reputed US-based accreditation agency.

SOA has been globally ranked among the top 50 universities in India by QS India Ranking. The Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital, SOA’s faculty of medical sciences, was ranked 16th in the country by NIRF in 2023.

The Deemed to be University offers 24 Under Graduate and 83 Post Graduate, Ph.D. and Post Doctoral programs in engineering and technology, management, medical sciences, dental sciences, nursing, pharmaceutical sciences, biotechnology, hospitality and tourism management, law, agricultural sciences and veterinary sciences.
SOA’s focus being on research, it has set up 18 research centres which have been working in 26 identified thrust areas. The centres include Centre of Excellence in Theoretical and Mathematical Sciences, Centre for Bio-Mechanical Sciences, Multi-Disciplinary Research Center, Centre for Nanosciences and Nanotechnology, Centre for Applied Mathematics, Centre for Rural and Tribal Development, Centre for Reproductive Health, National MEMS Design Centre, Centre for Bio-Fuel and Bio-Processing and Centre for Environment and Climate. Besides, it had established two inter-disciplinary centres namely Centre for Climate Smart Agriculture and Bio-medical Engineering and Applications.

Some of the ongoing research work is supported by grants sanctioned by several external agencies including the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), Life Science Research Board (LSRB) and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). Fifty eight laboratories have been established besides the 18 research centres to develop the research ecosystem in the campus.

Researchers at SOA have developed simple economical and innovative pharmaceutical formulations to treat various chronic medical conditions for which the Deemed to be University has recently signed technology licensing agreement with the National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) of the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Work of the faculty members and research scholars regularly get published in reputed peer reviewed international journals. The university has 10,903 Scopus indexed publications to its credit so far with h-Index of 98. In Web of Science, it has 6248 publications with h-Index of 86. Researchers at SOA have so far applied for 407 patents of which 292 have been published and patents granted in 35 cases.

SOA’s faculty of medical sciences runs the 1600 bed SUM Hospital which has become one of the most sought after healthcare centres in the state. The USP of the teaching hospital, which deploys excellent modern and advanced diagnostic, surgical and life saving equipment, is that it extends quality medical facilities for patients at affordable cost. A separate multi-speciality hospital, SUM Ultimate Medicare has been set up by SOA in Bhubaneswar which extends state-of-the-art healthcare to the people.

Students at SOA are encouraged to engage in creative work and learn to serve people in need. Student Clubs and Activity Centres promote extra-curricular activities to explore hidden talent in the student and develop his or her personality. ‘Jaago’, an initiative of the university with students at the forefront, has been working among slum children taking care of their education, nutrition and hygiene.

The infrastructure developed by the university includes a 1600-seat state- of-the-art convention hall which is today the preferred venue for many international and national level conferences. SOA’s 127 acre fully wi-fi campuses have a total built up area of nearly 7.5 lakh square meters and has 197 e-enabled class rooms, 340 PG and UG labs, fully automated libraries with ample Print Learning Resources, 10 student activity centres and multiple ISP connectivity (more than 10 Gbps). It has one central library, 9 institutional and 42 departmental libraries. The central library has a floor area of 11,617 square meters.
The SOA Community Radio (90.4 MHz), which has been functioning since 2012, was adjudged the best community radio by the Government of India in 2014.

Presently new courses have been added in Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital, Institute of Dental Sciences, Institute Business and Computer Studies, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, SUM Nursing College, SOA National Institute of Law, Institute of Agricultural Sciences, School of Hotel Management and Institute of Higher Secondary Education. New research courses/programmes have been added for which the strength of students and faculties are increasing.