An alumnus of IIT-Delhi and IIM-Ahmedabad and former dean (academics) of the top-ranked National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Delhi, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is founder-vice chancellor of the newly-promoted World University of Design (WUD, estb.2017), Sonipat, Haryana. Established by a special Act of the Haryana state legislative assembly, WUD is the country’s first private design education varsity. Spread across 12.5 acres in the Rajiv Gandhi Education City, Sonipat, the state-of-the-art WUD offers 23 specialised undergraduate and postgrad programmes in design, fashion, communication, visual arts, design & retail management, and architecture.
Newspeg. WUD is all set to admit its first batch of students in August.
History. One of the pioneers of design education in India, Gupta signed up with NIFT, Delhi as chairperson of its textile design department in 2000 and was promoted to dean in 2007. During his 15-year stint with NIFT, he spearheaded its rollout to 16 cities across the country. Subsequently, in 2010 he was appointed dean of Centum Learning and dean of the School of Design of G.D. Goenka University, Gurgaon. In 2015, he was appointed director-general of WUD and promoted to position of vice chancellor in February this year.
WUD is promoted under the aegis of the Punjab-based Shri Om Parkash Bansal Educational & Social Welfare Trust, constituted in 1998 by industrialist Dr. Hukum Chand Bansal. Currently, the trust manages two K-12 schools and eight undergrad colleges under the brand name of RIMT in Punjab state.
“A few years ago, I presented a proposal to promote an exclusive design university to the trustees who were excited by the idea, since there is a huge demand-supply gap of design professionals in India. Against an estimated demand for 8,000 trained professionals annually, the combined capacity of institutions such as NIFT and NID is 3,500,” says Gupta, also a UNDP fellow at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, and visiting professor of the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts et Industries Textiles, France.
Direct talk. According to Gupta, provision of internationally benchmarked design education requires open creative spaces and interdisciplinary learning. “Creativity is experiential by definition and is inspired by open spaces beyond classrooms to ideate and learn. It’s also stimulated by interaction with students from other disciplines. Therefore, the unique proposition of WUD is that it offers state-of-the-art design studios, creative open spaces and six faculties — architecture, design, management, fashion, communication and visual arts — to promote inter-disciplinary learning. Design education needs to venture beyond the creative arts, and develop the imagination, critical thinking and problem-solving mindsets of students,” he says.
Future plans. WUD has already signed up international collaborations with the Vancouver Film School and Italian University for Design. “Our objective at WUD is to help place India on the fashion and design map of the world. We are all set to admit our first batch of 600 students into our six faculties in August this year. Over the next five years, we intend to attain our full capacity of 2,500,” says Gupta.
In a nation whose land and cityscapes have been ruined by Soviet-inspired PWDs (public works departments) of the Central and state governments, this high-potential private sector initiative is doubly welcome.
Autar Nehru (Delhi)