Chandigarh : Plaksha University, one of India’s largest collective philanthropy efforts to build a tech university for the future, launched ‘Ayyalasomayajula Lalitha’ Fund, to promote enrollment of girls and women in STEM education specifically in higher education. The University aims to award 50% of total scholarships and grants to girl students, that will not only provide equal opportunity to bright minds from underprivileged backgrounds but also increase the ratio of girls in STEM education.
As per the latest All India Survey on Higher Education, released in academic year 2019-20, the percentage of women in engineering and technology in the country is less than 30%. Announcing its vision in the run up to UN’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Plaksha University said that they aim to increase the enrolment of women in the institution to 50% by academic year 2027 through a twofold strategy. First by ensuring that no deserving women candidate is denied admission because of the lack of financial resources. Second by ensuring that the admission process is holistic and not solely dependent on standardized entrance exams or academic preparation – the well-known pre-college barriers that skew the gender ratio in engineering and STEM.
Taking forward its mission of giving full and equal access to and participation of women in science and technology the A Lalitha Fund is dedicated to women who want to pursue higher education in STEM fields.
The University leads the inclusion of girls and women in science, with almost one-third of the first UG cohort and more than one-fourth of the postgraduate (Technology Leaders Program) cohort consisting of women students. This has been possible due to scholarships offered by Bharti Foundation, Axis Bank, V Mart, Mphasis and contribution of individual donors and corporations.
Speaking on the occasion, Prof. Rudra Pratap, the Founding Vice Chancellor of Plaksha University (former Deputy Director of Indian Institute of Science) said, “India is a STEM powerhouse and as a provider of tech education we are committed to increasing women enrollment by 50 percent by the academic year 2027. With the new National Education Policy, India is at the cusp of a revolution in higher education. The policy aims to increase enrolment of women in technology and engineering, which is currently less than 30%. At Plaksha, we aim to encourage and support women to step up and enlighten the world through their diverse perspectives, understanding and solutions to solve grand challenges.”
The first undergraduate cohort at Plaksha includes students from 41 Indian cities, towns, and villages. They are pursuing cutting-edge and contemporary B.Tech degrees offered by the University. 29% of the selected students are from the northern India, followed by 23% from the south and 19% from the west, making the university culturally versatile and rich learning ground.