In the bustling landscape of Mumbai, Maharashtra, stands a beacon of innovation in higher education – Universal AI University. With its visionary approach to integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into the very fabric of learning, Universal AI University has swiftly risen to prominence since its establishment in 2009 as Universal Business School. Today, as the first dedicated AI University in India, it continues to push boundaries and redefine the educational experience. Universal AI University boasts a comprehensive array of undergraduate,  postgraduate, and doctoral programmes spanning across various disciplines. From the transformative realms of AI and future technologies to the realms of liberal arts, humanities,  and design, the university offers a dynamic platform for intellectual exploration and growth. 

What sets Universal AI University apart, however, is not just its curriculum but its forward-thinking ethos. In 2023, with the enactment of the Universal AI University, Karjat Act, 2022,  the institution evolved into a full-fledged university, solidifying its commitment to shaping the future of education. Endorsed by esteemed bodies such as the University Grants  Commission and the All India Council for Technical Education, Universal AI University stands as a testament to India’s progressive strides in the field of AI education. Central to its ethos is the seamless integration of cutting-edge technologies into every facet of university life. From pioneering research initiatives in Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality, IoT, and  Blockchain to its novel admissions process, Universal AI University exemplifies innovation at its core. 

The university’s groundbreaking admissions process, leveraging the Metaverse and AI  technologies, revolutionises the traditional approach to student enrollment. Through optimisation algorithms and crowd-generating tools within the Metaverse, coupled with the assistance of virtual companions like “Droid,” candidates embark on a futuristic admissions journey. This innovative approach not only streamlines the process but also reflects Universal  AI University’s commitment to embracing the digital frontier. 

In this exclusive interview, we sit down with Ayush Saxena, an MBA student at Universal AI  University, to delve deeper into the university’s strengths, its transformative impact on education, and the unparalleled opportunities it offers in shaping future leaders in the digital age. Join us as we uncover the essence of education redefined – where innovation meets excellence and the future unfolds before our eyes. 

MBA Journey & Career Choices

Q1. What prompted your decision to pursue an MBA, and what specifically drew you to Universal AI University?

I’ve been drawn to the idea of pursuing an MBA ever since my engineering days. Growing up in Bhopal and completing my schooling there, I later ventured to Chennai for my engineering studies. Given the dynamic nature of the IT field, pursuing an MBA is the next logical step in my career trajectory. Throughout my engineering journey, I found myself gravitating towards management-related subjects, which laid a strong foundation for my pursuit of an MBA. 

When the time came to choose an MBA programme, I considered various factors. While I  performed decently in the CAT exam and received offers from different institutions, I had specific criteria in mind. I sought a programme that offered dual degrees in different streams through collaboration between institutions. This was crucial for me as I wanted to maintain my specialisation in IT while also exploring my interest in marketing. 

Ultimately, the Cardiff programme at Universal Ai stood out to me for its unique offering. It provided the opportunity to earn an MBA from Cardiff University along with a PGDM, which holds accreditation equivalent to an MBA in India. This dual-degree arrangement, coupled with  UBS’s reputable standing, perfectly aligned with my career goals. Thus, I made the decision to enrol in the Universal Ai University. 

Choosing MBA Programme & University

Q1. What motivated you to opt for an MBA with a focus on Universal AI, and what led you to choose this specialisation?

My programme is called the  Cardiff GMP (Global MBA) programme, offering a General Management degree accredited by  AICT in India. This PGDM degree holds validity in India and is considered equivalent to an  MBA, as offered by IIMs. Another option is the Cardiff MBA, a one-year programme with  select specialisations. Although not exhaustive, it holds significant weight due to Cardiff’s distinct evaluation criteria. 

Coming from an engineering background, I am particularly drawn to academic writing and research. It’s exciting that Cardiff’s exams involve writing research papers, potentially leading to publication in reputable journals, and enhancing one’s resume.  Additionally, UBS has partnerships with multiple journals, facilitating this process.  

Regarding the university, three factors stood out to me. Firstly, it offers the unique  opportunity to pursue two degrees simultaneously. Secondly, it was the only institution conducting live classes during the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrating a commitment to students’ education. Thirdly, strategically, it aligns with emerging market trends focusing on concepts like ESG and SDGs. It’s rare to find an institute centred around these values,  making UBS the perfect fit for me. Recognising this, I promptly signed up for the programme in  January, knowing it was the perfect choice for me. 

MBA Selection Process & Industry Exposure

Q1. How was your experience with Universal AI’s selection process for the MBA programme? Any advice for students preparing for GDPI?

So, my experience was quite unique; I was battling COVID when I received the call from  Universal AI, my dream institute. Despite the challenges, I had been diligently preparing for  it, and thankfully, I was accepted. The qualifying scores were based on exams like CAT,  CMAT, NMIMS, and MAT. Following that, the selection process involved a boardroom  discussion instead of the typical group discussion format. We were given a single topic to  discuss as a group, then split into different rooms on Zoom for further discussions. This lasted  for about 90 minutes, testing our communication skills extensively. Communication is  paramount in MBA, as the ability to convey ideas convincingly is crucial. Moving on to the  interview, it was conducted promptly on Zoom. My interviewer was the Head  of Skill Development, indicating the seriousness of the process. The interview lasted for  about 45 minutes, during which he asked about various aspects, including a gap year due to a  medical issue. His concern about my well-being and understanding of the challenges  associated with medical supplies in remote areas left a positive impression on me. Overall,  the interview experience affirmed my desire to join this esteemed institution. 

Q2. Any tips for students applying for an MBA at University AI University for 2024? What key factors should they consider?

I believe pursuing two degrees simultaneously, especially through a multi-programme or exchange programme, is challenging. It requires strong multitasking skills and a  solid grasp of AI tools, given the academic environment at an AI-focused university. The pace  of work is demanding, necessitating a proactive approach to keep up. Additionally, strategic  decision-making is crucial. Personally, I focused on aligning my studies with Sustainable  Development Goals (SDGs) to pursue a career in consulting in various domains like marketing, SDG, and ESG, emphasising the  importance of clarity in one’s career aspirations upon entering an MBA programme. Recognising  the financial investment made by our parents is essential to maximising educational opportunities. Reflecting on my journey at UBS, I’ve learned that opportunities may not always  present themselves readily, but at Universal AI, one must seize them wholeheartedly.

Q3. How has your time in the programme impacted your industry exposure and professional growth? Can you share any experiences connecting students to industry opportunities?

Absolutely. Regarding industry exposure, we have regular HR symposiums where we engage  in discussions with HR professionals over lunch, creating a professional yet informal  environment for interaction. One particularly intriguing initiative is the Collaborative  Multidisciplinary Aptitude and Problem Solving (CMAPS) project. In this project, students  form teams with members from diverse disciplines like finance, HR, and marketing. The challenge is to approach companies independently, generating leads and offering consulting  services within a tight deadline. Through this project, I enhanced my networking skills,  notably expanding my LinkedIn connections from 150 to over 1500, showcasing the weightage of experiences at UBS. 

One memorable project involved a leading software  development company lacking talent development strategies. Working closely with our HR  professors, we crafted a tailored solution that the company successfully implemented,  demonstrating the practical impact of our academic endeavours. This immersive experience  sets Universal AI apart, offering more than just a brief glimpse into professional life commonly found in other institutions. 

Leadership Development & Personal Growth at Universal AI University

Q1. How does Universal AI University’s MBA program support the development of leadership skills and interpersonal connections?

I believe leadership is something that you are not born with; rather, it is developed.  Personally, during my engineering days, I was more of a follower. I followed instructions  from my seniors and was comfortable with that. I performed well academically, and I hoped  for a similar trajectory in my professional life. However, when I joined Universal AI, the  scenario was different. We have students from 27 states, ensuring diverse backgrounds and  perspectives. Initially, it could be awkward, especially when language barriers come into  play. You learn to adapt quickly, understanding that effective communication is crucial,  whether it’s within a group of friends or during corporate interactions like negotiations or  transactions. 

Regarding leadership, Universal AI University provides ample opportunities for students to display their  leadership skills. We have over 20 student-led organisations and four communities, along  with 18 clubs, all managed predominantly by students. I am privileged to serve as the  president of the Universal Innovation Club, one of the oldest clubs at UBS. The selection  process for these clubs is rigorous, with multiple rounds of evaluation, including case  examinations. Each club has its specialisation, catering to diverse interests ranging from  marketing to finance to CSR. Moreover, UBS hosts various events regularly, providing  students with hands-on leadership experience. Whether it’s organising events, managing  projects, or participating in competitions, there are ample opportunities for growth. As a  junior, I was encouraged to create my own event, which eventually became a flagship event  for my club. 

In addition to leadership development, personal growth is integral to our curriculum. Time  management is emphasised through workshops and practical tools like Gantt charts, essential  skills for corporate success. We are groomed to handle academic rigor while balancing  extracurricular activities, preparing us for diverse roles in the future. In essence, at UBS, we  are nurtured to become future CEOs, instilling a mindset of ambition and excellence. It’s  about embracing innovation and striving for greatness, setting our sights high and working  diligently towards our goals.

Time Management & Stress Relief at Universal AI University

Q1. How do you balance academic and extracurricular commitments? What strategies do you use to prevent burnout?

My approach to maintaining balance is grounded in prioritisation, particularly when faced  with conflicting commitments such as club events and upcoming exams. While exams  naturally take precedence and are outlined in the academic planner, I emphasise active  participation during classes to ensure comprehensive understanding from the outset. Rather  than solely relying on rote memorisation, which is a common approach in many academic  environments, I leverage available technologies like AI to streamline tasks and optimise time  management. For instance, AI tools can assist in creating presentations or generating content,  which significantly reduces workload. These tools are typically introduced and taught within  the institute, alleviating concerns about familiarity. 

Furthermore, the university environment itself encourages effective time management  through its structured evaluation components, including presentations, assignments, quizzes,  and exams. By utilising AI and other resources, I can efficiently manage these components  while also participating in extracurricular activities. Additionally, I recognise the importance  of maintaining a supportive social circle within the institute. Peer support plays a crucial role in  managing stress and preventing burnout. UBS offers resources like the wellness club, which  provides various avenues for relaxation and self-care. This includes celebrating birthdays and  offering recreational facilities such as gyms and musical instruments. Personally, I find solace in playing the piano, which has become a regular outlet for me. 

Moreover, UBS fosters a vibrant social atmosphere with activities like movie nights, jam  sessions, and gatherings at the amphitheatre, known as the plaza. These events provide  opportunities to unwind and connect with peers outside of academic and club responsibilities,  reducing the constant pressure of academic demands. Overall, this multifaceted approach  enables me to manage my time effectively, engage in diverse activities, and mitigate stress,  contributing to a balanced and fulfilling university experience.

Q2. How has your journey been with universal AI so far in less than 10?

I would just say that in two words, sincere and awesome. 

Ayush Saxena’s insights provide a compelling narrative of Universal AI  University’s transformative impact on education. As we reflect on our conversation, it  becomes evident that Universal AI University is not just a place of learning but a crucible of  innovation, where the convergence of AI and education reshapes the very landscape of higher learning. 

Ayush’s journey exemplifies the ethos of Universal AI University – a commitment to  excellence, innovation, and the relentless pursuit of knowledge. Through its pioneering curriculum, state-of-the-art facilities, and forward-thinking approach, the university  empowers students like Ayush to become leaders in the digital age. Universal AI University is  more than a place of education; it is a beacon of hope, a catalyst for change, and a testament  to the power of human ingenuity. As we bid farewell to this enlightening conversation, let us  carry forth the spirit of innovation and discovery that defines Universal AI University,  knowing that the future belongs to those who dare to dream and to those who dare to innovate.

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