Adding a feather to India’s mounting global eminence is Saveetha Dental College, under the flagship of Saveetha Institute of Medical and Technical Sciences (SIMATS), Chennai. Saveetha has emerged as the forerunner of Indian universities on the global map, achieving 18th Global Rank in QS World University Rankings, the Oscars for higher education institutions globally. Standing 1st in India (Domestic Rank), 3rd in Asia and 18th Internationally, Saveetha Dental College is the first Indian college to feature within the Top 100 Rankings of QS, a remarkable feat for a young college established in 2005 as a part of the university which commenced in 1988.
Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), an education and study abroad consulting firm releases QS rankings every year, which are the most illustrious international rankings that evaluate global universities on popularity and performance. A university is assessed based on opinions of eminent higher education professionals and corporations, quality of teaching, the number of research articles acknowledged by researchers , ratio of international faculty and students etc. Saveetha’s detailed performance indicator and overall score across all 51 narrow subjects and 5 broad subject areas have surpassed those of other institutions internationally. Saveetha stands testimony to the effectiveness of adopting the most modern global and student-centric approach to education that can pave way for India’s emergence as a global destination for higher education, an endeavor the Indian government has adopted as a fervent mission.
Dr N M Veeraiyan, Founder and Chancellor, Saveetha Institute of Medical and Technical Sciences, extends his heartfelt thanks to all faculty members and students for this huge achievement. He says they had always nurtured the dream of reaching the pinnacle of research capabilities and developing as the premier institute for all types of research in the industry. Focusing on long term gains, they established labs and promoted research publications in a big way. “We are the only institution where undergraduates produce thousands of research publications, a feat other colleges find it hard to duplicate. Our focus on research, relentless pursuit of quality and our passion for dentistry has led to this tremendous outcome.
Among the characteristics that distinguish Saveetha Dental College from other colleges is their unique curriculum which is a hybrid of the west and the east. “The western curriculum is heavily hands-on and very much outcome based whereas eastern curriculum is more theoretical and concept based. We are trying to get the best of both. We have one of the most robust training programmes with 9 additional subjects and thousands of clinical cases. Where 200 to 300 cases are done by a dental graduate program usually, we do close to about 3000 cases. Given such high numbers of clinical practice, our students achieve great levels of perfection. Their practice is documented in our GRB book, which is a demonstration of their quality of work and passion,” he says.
The university follows Multiple Interactive Learning Algorithm (MILA), an activity-based system comprising two-hour lectures that are divided into six segments. The MILA system follows 20 minutes of teaching and 20 minutes of activities such as mind-mapping, game-based learning, role play and scale up. Dr. Veeraiyan says, based on their research on teaching methodologies of universities like Harvard, Toronto, Chicago, Baltimore and Kings College, London, they decided to interpose activities as a part of learning. They have also invented many activities, making learning easier and fun based. After the introduction of MILA, their students are scoring high marks.
Students are given video recordings of sessions in advance and classes usually begin with a discussion. Saveetha has also invented Castle Top Learning, a pedagogic technique to enhance cognitive learning and lateral thinking. This technique, published in the prestigious Journal of Dental Education, enables students to go through a pathway of classroom and out-of-class activity. This technique has translated into a high quantum of peer-learning, inquirybased learning and exploratory content development.
Classes are smaller in size to facilitate effective exchange of ideas. SIMATS is one of India’s most ethnically diverse learning centers where students come from different parts of the country and the world. The hostel offers a homeaway- from-home experience with regular committee meetings to oversee operations.
Given the state-of-the-art infrastructure facilities, an innovative, activity based curriculum offering knowledge enriching programmes, a high volume of clinical practice, excellence in research and corporate partnerships, the university will continue to be a guidepost in higher education , both in India and internationally.
Dr. Deepak Nallaswamy Veeraiyan,
Director of Academics,
Saveetha Institute of Medical and Technical Sciences
Congratulations on the exceptional distinction your Dental College has received at the global level. How has your university taken advantage of the latest trends in digitization to enhance the knowledge and training of your students?
Saveetha University is a very advanced university when it comes to digitization. We have a well thought-out academic design where the entire process from admission, fee payment, completed assignments, no dues, hall ticket printing, results and research publications to convocation as well as faculty development is completely managed by a single portal. This is not the case in many other colleges. Saveetha had the first iPad university hospital system in the world.
What feedback have you received about the performance of your students in the corporates and elsewhere?
When our students face the real world, they realize how good their clinical training and theoretical grounding have been and are astounded by the respect they get as well as the value of the degree they have obtained. Their GRB book depicting the clinical volume and expertise is so impressive that they have an edge over other graduates during interviews. As their career graph soars, they understand how effectively the institution has designed the curriculum and learning outcomes to position them for successful careers.
What would you like to say about the quality of research as well as research publications that go on in your university?
Our university considers only publications indexed in Scopus, PubMed and Web of Science, which are all peer reviewed international data bases. Getting published in these is quite difficult. However each student does 10 to 15 publications before graduation and the university publishes between 2000 to 3000 papers every year. Considering our small student population of 10,000, to bring out such high volumes of research output is a remarkable feat. While our numbers are high, we also lead in quality of research, evaluated on various parameters by reputed ranking companies. In fact, in the recent QS World Ranking, our scores are the highest in the world as reflected by the H index and Citation per Paper, followed by Gothenburg University, Sweden. We are proud to announce that we have close to around 7500 publications from the dental school, second only to Harvard, which is at 8000. But Harvard has a head start of being more than 160 years old.
What is the complexion of your faculty? How does the inclusion of international faculty make a difference in the quality of education imparted?
Our faculty profile is eclectic and we have a very diverse faculty, right from north India to the south and innumerable adjunct international faculty. This translates into a number of collaborative projects and several publications from authors across the globe. This also reflects in the quality of research, acknowledged by most ranking agencies.
As a university that has received global recognition, what steps do you think Indian universities should take to attain academic excellence?
To achieve global excellence, Indian universities need to improve their performance metrics in all parameters which National Institute Ranking Framework and NDA ask for and also keep the welfare and future of the students in mind. I hope many more institutions also shine. We are happy that we are in an era where India is beginning to shine in the global platform of higher education and we are humbled by the fact that we have been able to play a small role in that.