Ancient University to Admit First Students in Centuries

Nalanda University, destroyed in 1193, to be resurrected

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 1, 2013 7:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – Oxford, Harvard, and ... Nalanda? In the annals of history, Nalanda University endures as one of the world's preeminent learning institutions, and one that came centuries before its more recognizable counterparts. If a group of officials and scholars have their way, that will soon change. The northern India university was undone by invaders in 1193, after teaching as many as 10,000 students who hailed from all parts of Asia. Now a new Nalanda International University is planned about six miles from the ruins of that piece of educational history—but many have their doubts that the new version will be able to pick up where the old one left off, reports the BBC.

"Are top students and faculty going to be attracted to rural Bihar?" asks the director of Boston's Center for International Higher Education. We may soon find out: The idea to relaunch the institution got the backing of India, China, Singapore, Japan, and Thailand in 2006; in the years since, the Indian government formally established the university via a parliamentary act, temporary premises were readied, and the Hindu reports that a winning architectural design for the new campus was chosen in May. History and ecology studies are set to begin next year, with an assist from Yale, Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University, Seoul University, and Peking University. Bihar has ponied up the land, but those behind the school estimate they'll need $1 billion to bring it to life. While a number of countries have made donations, they add up to nowhere near that sum.

Nalanda's ruins.
Nalanda's ruins.   (©)
Nalanda's ruins.
Nalanda's ruins.   (©)
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The old Nalanda took 200 years to come to a flourishing state. We may not take 200 years but it will take some decades. - Amartya Sen, Nobel laureate and the university's first chancellor

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