Mumbai: With the city falling short of large land pockets, establishing an educational institution with a central building, huge lawn, snaking academic corridors, and a convocation hall seems unlikely for entrepreneurs. Keeping the city’s reality in mind, the state has decided to approve setting up Vertical University Campuses (VUC) in Mumbai city and Thane, which would require much less land than traditional universities.
Maharashtra is the first state in the country to approve vertical university campuses, which were first adopted in the United States and other Western countries. The decision was taken in the state cabinet meeting on July 19, 2023.
As opposed to traditional campuses operating on a huge size of land, a vertical university campus will grow vertically, enabling a university to house up to the 50th floor, just like a shiny corporate tower anywhere in the city.
The idea of a vertical university campus was conceived to deal with the issue of land scarcity, which is common in major cities such as Mumbai and international metropolises like New York City, Washington DC, and Tel Aviv, Israel.
“The state cabinet has cleared establishing Vertical University Campuses in Mumbai city, Mumbai suburbs, and Thane as self-financed universities. They require a minimum 15,000 built-up area,” said Vikas Rastogi, principal secretary of the Higher and Technical Education Department.
In response to the challenges posed by land scarcity in Mumbai and Thane, the Maharashtra state government has taken a groundbreaking decision to establish Vertical University Campuses (VUCs). These campuses will function as self-financed universities and require significantly less land than traditional university setups. The approval for the VUCs was granted during a state cabinet meeting held on July 19, 2023, making Maharashtra the first state in India to embrace this innovative approach to university infrastructure.
Instead of sprawling across extensive land areas, these campuses will rise vertically, similar to the towering corporate structures found throughout the city. This adaptation of the concept is aimed at effectively utilizing the limited available space while addressing the growing demand for quality higher education facilities in bustling metropolitan regions. Under the new policy, private universities in Mumbai City, Mumbai suburbs, and Thane can be established with a minimum built-up area of 15,000 square meters. In contrast, the previous policy required 10 to 25 acres of land in various locations, which often proved unattainable in densely populated cities like Mumbai.
The state government's proactive approach aims to provide a conducive environment for the growth of education without compromising on the city’s development goals. A crucial aspect of the vertical university campus policy is to ensure that these universities have independent buildings dedicated exclusively to academic and educational activities. The classrooms will adhere to the guidelines of the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), thereby ensuring quality education delivery.
Former AICTE chairman S S Mantha expressed his support for the concept, citing examples from space-starved cities in the US. He emphasised the need for quality assurance and ownership of facilities to protect student interests.
With this bold step, Maharashtra paves the way for innovative approaches to address land scarcity in education, setting a precedent for other states to follow suit. The introduction of Vertical University Campuses is expected to revolutionise the higher education landscape, providing a promising future for students and institutions alike. As the concept takes shape, the city can look forward to witnessing educational institutions soaring high and reaching new heights of excellence.
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