January 13, 2022: An unrelated development to the recent announcement of a National Digital University,has been the setting up of the “Kerala University of Digital Sciences, Innovation and Technology” – abbreviated to Digital University – Kerala (DUK). While the ordinance to create DUK dates to January 2020, it was inaugurated in February 2022 in a 10-acre campus within the TechnoCity IT park, on the outskirts of the state capital Thiruvananthapuram, and was touted as ‘India’s first Digital University’.
With capacity for 1200 residential students, DUK offers MTech and PhD courses in five schools covering science and engineering, electronics and automation, informatics, and digital humanities. It also houses Kerala’s only Blockchain Academy.
From the Kerala government’s statement of intent and other documents on the DUK website, it is reasonably clear that except for the accidental similarity in names, the Digital University - Kerala and the National Digital University have very little in common. DUK was created by renaming the Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management – Kerala (IIITM-K) that has been in existence since 2000. Indeed, the last director of IIITM-K, veteran tech academic Dr Saji Gopinath is also the first Vice Chancellor of DUK.
The course content has been fine tuned to concentrate on digital skills and technologies – but key elements of NDU are absent – this is not a predominantly online course. Nor is there any provision for students to obtain credits from multiple institutions – though the UGC’s stipulation that students can take up to 40% of their graduate courses online may have to be honoured.
After Kerala, Rajasthan is slated to open its own Digital University in Jodhpur. And most reports from print, online and TV media that pop up in a Web search tend to bundle the Kerala and Rajasthan Digital Universities with the National Digital University, suggesting misleadingly that these two states somehow have got a head start on setting up an NDU.
Read our story on National Digital University here