Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India mooted the idea of establishing a South Asian University (SAU) at the 13th SAARC Summit in Dhaka in 2005. He said, “The people of our subcontinent are at the cutting edge of scientific and technological research and in the front ranks of the knowledge society across the world. Wherever an enabling environment and world-class facilities are made available to our talented people, they excel”. He suggested member countries to pool their resources for creation of a Centre of Excellence in the form of a University that would provide world-class facilities and professional faculty to students and researchers drawn from every country of the SAARC region. "Let this become a forum where our academicians, scholars, researchers and gifted students can work together in the service of human advancement,” Dr. Singh said.
Mr. Gowher Rizvi, former Director of Ash Institution of Democratic Governance & Innovations at Harvard University, was entrusted with the task of preparing a Concept Paper for SAU. He suggested that the SAU should adopt a middle path between government-funded and private education institutes to facilitate autonomy from bureaucratic stranglehold while maintaining social commitment towards the under-privileged. Prepared after a series of consultations across the SAARC countries, the note was submitted to the SAARC Governments to elicit their views. Following this, an inter-ministerial Agreement for Establishment of South Asian University was signed on 04 April 2007, during the 14th SAARC Summit in New Delhi.
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