Ashoka University, India's largest shared philanthropic initiative is a private research university with a focus on liberal arts, located in Sonipat, Haryana, India. The university is recognized by the University Grants Commission (UGC), the Government of India and the Government of Haryana.
The concept of Ashoka University first began in talks between a group of IIT Delhi graduates. They later approached former ISB dean Pramath Sinha for help in setting up a university that would be of a different calibre than that of present higher education in India. The project was code named Project Nobel, referring to the founders aspiration to produce future Nobel Prize laureates. At the same time, Sanjeev Bikhchandani and Ashish Dhawan also approached Pramath with a vision of a university, and Pramath combined the two visions together.
Initial discussions leaned towards setting up an institute of engineering and technology that could perhaps match the reputation of leading institutions in the field such as MIT, the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford University. Ashoka's founders consequently signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science.
Ashoka University has a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with premier international business school HEC Paris Ashoka University has also signed a strategic partnership with Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin, which will enable both institutions to cooperate in teaching and research.
Ashoka's concept, however, shifted from an engineering and technology focus to a liberal arts approach, providing instruction in the core sciences, social sciences and the humanities. The decision was inspired by both industry demand, as well as a desire to change the mindsets of Indian students and parents to see education as an end in itself, rather than merely as a stepping stone to securing a job.