Dr. Vidya Yeravdekar: Crafting an Inclusive and Holistic Educational Set-up 

Vidya Yeravdekar
Dr. Vidya Yeravdekar

Education empowers individuals and drives progress in communities, impacting social, cultural, and economic development. Educationists, as leaders in this field, play a crucial role in shaping the educational system. They introduce innovative approaches with resilience, empathy, humility, and an entrepreneurial mindset, embodying transformative leadership philosophies.

These motivating leaders aren’t reluctant to dream big because they see the bigger picture. They confidently operate, take measured chances, and significantly impact the constantly evolving educational landscape. Dr. Vidya Yeravdekar is a shining example of women making a difference in the educational sector. Being the Principal Director of Symbiosis and Pro-Chancellor of Symbiosis International (Deemed University), she is determined to foster positive transformations that will craft a student-centric environment.

Her journey in the education sector is a tale of destiny. She was a practicing medical doctor, having her hospital in India and then working with the Ministry of Health in Muscat, Oman. After about six years of working, she returned and started helping her father in the daily operations of Symbiosis, and that is how she got into the education sector.

Since then, she has been in the higher education sector, and she thoroughly enjoys being an education leader, not just working for Symbiosis but also working on Government and Quasi-Government bodies such as FICCI, where she is the Chair for Higher Education. Thus, she gets to be a part of policymaking for the Indian Higher Education sector.

Encouraging Women Empowerment

As a woman in the higher education sector, what Dr. Vidya likes the most is that she sees many women entering this sector as professionals. At Symbiosis, more than 50 percent of the leadership positions are taken by women. She is happy to say that even among the student population, 55 percent are women. As a university, Symbiosis has established the Symbiosis Medical College, which is exclusively for women. She feels that including women in professional careers is essential, especially in a country like India, which will help empower women.

Expanding the Institute

In 2024, Dr. Vidya and her staff in Symbiosis have set the goal of establishing their first international campus in Dubai. SIU Dubai has been approved by the Ministry of Education, Govt. of India. It is under process of accreditation by CAA, the Ministry of Education, UAE.

This will be a multidisciplinary campus in Dubai. As Symbiosis gets a lot of students from the Gulf region, West Asia, and Africa and a huge Indian diaspora in the Gulf Region, this campus will help these students to get a quality education with the Symbiosis International University degrees right there in Dubai.

A Smooth Educational Set-up

The Indian education system preserves the balance and foundations of a comprehensive advancement process. It makes an effort to promote both cognitive advantages and linguistic

variety. It creates a collaborative and experimental learning environment centered on the student.

Dr. Vidya hasn’t encountered any challenges in the Higher Education sector. She says that the Government of India and the present Ministry of Education are very open and approachable. According to Dr. Vidya, the New Education Policy that the Ministry of Education rolled out is very progressive and focuses on the student’s holistic development. She does not foresee any challenges in the Indian Higher education sector.

Leveraging Technology to Enhance the Educational Set-up

In the 21st century, technology plays the most crucial role in every field. It’s no longer an option; it’s a necessity. The education sector has witnessed the most profound transformation due to technological enhancements. It makes life convenient and education more accessible, personalized, and engaging.

Dr. Vidya is a visionary who plans to utilize this enhancement in technology to invite a wave of transformation in the Indian education system; according to her, India has one of the largest education systems in the world. Despite that, the gross enrolment ratio is only 27. She aims to reach a Gross Enrolment Ratio of 50 by 2030.

Dr. Vidya sees a lot of companies coming up with the latest technology to accomplish this. Also, Symbiosis imparts degrees through the online medium. This will help increase the GER and contribute to upskilling the students who come from rural areas and do not have access to good universities. That promotes quality higher education.

A Unique Leadership Method

Regarding leadership and initiatives, Symbiosis works with the mantra of decentralization, which means that the university empowers the directors of various departments and deans of diverse faculty to run their domain how they want to.

The University has defined its strategy, but once it has defined the plan, it is left to the individual deans and directors to run their domains. According to Dr. Vidya, this kind of empowerment brings a sense of belonging. At Symbiosis, this decentralized mode of leadership has helped walk the path of success.

Awards and Recognitions: An Inspiration to Keep Going

Awards are a testament to an organization’s achievements and are a source of inspiration to others, in addition to expressing gratitude for their hard work. Though Dr. Vidya has received a few awards for her contribution to Higher education in India, she takes pride in mentioning the awards that her father, Dr. S. B. Mujumdar, the Founder of Symbiosis, has received: the Padma Shri and the Padma Bhushan for his contribution to the education sector in India.

This has encouraged all the employees at Symbiosis to perform better. As she says, “So, awards and recognitions are a way to encourage people and organizations to do better.”

Efficient Leadership Principles

Decision-making and leadership skills hold great value for leaders in the education domain. Dr. Vidya has faith in the people who work with her. She has a team approach, encourages people to work in teams, and gives credit to people for Symbiosis’s success, not herself.

This empowerment has helped to highlight the cumulative efforts of the team. She has also imbibed a lot of leadership qualities from her father, Dr. Mujumdar. He has always had the mantra of having faith in the people who work for him so that they feel empowered and have a sense of belonging that leads them to work even better for the organization.

Strategies that Enhance Learning

Symbiosis offers a multidisciplinary educational program. According to Dr. Vidya, students will benefit from the New Education Policy, which will emphasize liberal education and change the three-year UG program into a four-year UG program. Experiential learning will be heavily emphasized.

As a hallmark of Symbiosis, students will learn beyond what they learn in the classroom. Additionally, Symbiosis is a very inclusive and diverse university where students come from all over India as well as other nations. Students at Symbiosis standout as a result of this, which also contributes to the development of their personalities and characters when they leave the campus.

Dr. Vidya’s Proficiencies and Powers

Dr. Vidya holds a postgraduate degree in medicine, a degree in law, and a Ph.D. in ‘Internationalization of Higher Education in India.’ Having presented papers at various national and International conferences, she has numerous research publications to her credit and has also authored several books. Ranked No.14 amongst India’s top 25 Powerful Women, Dr. Vidya has been instrumental in bringing in innovative approaches to promote the internationalization of higher education in India.

As a member of the University Grants Commission (UGC) for two terms, the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) under the Ministry of Education, and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) under the Ministry of External Affairs, she has been a facilitator of innovative approaches to higher education in India.

Dr. Vidya has been appointed as a member of the expert group on Global Outreach of Higher Education, formulated by UGC to implement the National Education Policy 2020 that was rolled out by the Ministry of Education Govt. of India, member of the Advisory Group of Analytical and Advisory work (ASA) World Bank, Advisory Committee of the IAU for the global survey on internationalization and member of the Board of Trustees of Muscat University, Oman.

She is the Chairperson of the FICCI Committee on Higher Education and is serving her third term. She is also the Vice President of the Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industries, and Agriculture (MCCIA). Dr. Vidya has been appointed as a Member of the India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF) Trust set up by the Ministry of Commerce & Industries, Government of India, to promote the ‘Brand India’ label in overseas markets, member of the Expert Group constituted by the UGC for Development of Educational Framework for Global Citizenship in Higher Education Institutions and UGC Expert Committee constituted to prepare the guidelines for Credit-Based Courses and Internship opportunities.

She has been elected as Member of the Central Governing Council of Services Export Promotion Council (SEPC) set up by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India, Member of the General Assembly of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), Governing Body of Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration (YASHADA), Governing Board member of the International Sports University, Government of Maharashtra and Member of the NEP implementation committee of Government of Maharashtra. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Emcure Pharmaceuticals Ltd and Bajaj Holdings & Investment Limited.

Dr. Vidya has been appointed as the first Chair of the OBREAL Global India Chapter for a period of three years. She is a member of the Board of several organizations like Rayat Shikshan Sanstha, the Research Committee of the Association of Indian Universities (AIU), Public Health Foundation of India, Symbiosis University of Applied Sciences Indore, Symbiosis Skills and Open University, Pune.

She is a member of many corporate bodies such as the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), Confederation of India Industry (CII), Mahratta Chambers of Commerce and Industries (MCCIA), and not-for-profit organizations like HK Firodiya Foundation, India International Centre (IIC) & Pune International Centre (PIC).

She has also been a member on many other organizations such as Independent Director on the Board ofRITES Limited under the Ministry of Railways, Government of India, Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme (EQUIP) Committee, Ministry of Education, Govt. of India, Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs, Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University, State Knowledge Advisory Board of Higher Education, Government of Andhra Pradesh, Sub-Group on Higher & Technical Education and Skill Development of Chief Minister’s Advisory Council, Government of Rajasthan to name a few.

Dr. Vidya’s hard work has won her numerous awards and accolades. Her continuous endeavour to innovate and initiate has helped Symbiosis attain its present respect and admiration. Having accomplished all such feats, Dr. Vidya is now committed to shaping Indian higher education globally through her extensive work in the field of internationalization of higher education.

Her goal is to elevate Symbiosis International (Deemed University) to the status of one of Asia’s top universities.

Currently, it offers attractive employment opportunities and inclusive education. Dr. Vidya has skillfully moulded her father’s vision, making freedom of thought and expression the essence of this incredible University and the law, its religion.