The proposal for setting up a SAARC university was mooted by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the 13th SAARC Summit in Dhaka in December 2005. Then the External Affairs Minister stressed that SAARC has moved towards it relatively quickly as an inter-governmental agreement on it was signed only at the 14th SAARC summit held in New Delhi.
The ambitious proposal of setting up a common university for eight SAARC countries has taken off with the dedication of land for the institute by India’s External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee. Speaking at the dedication ceremony in Maidan Garhi on May 26, Mukherjee announced that the South Asian University (SAU) would hold its first academic session in 2010. The main campus in New Delhi will be hosting nearly 5,000 students and an international faculty. It will also have campuses in all other seven SAARC countriesâ€”Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.
The SAARC University has started functioning in New Delhi from August 2010. The campus of the university, intended to be state-of-excellence, will start functioning at a temporary premises in New Delhi. Since the university will have students from all its member nations, India has asserted that there will be no discrimination in visas against any student from any country, including those from Pakistan although police reporting would be a must. As per media reports, sources in Indian government have assured that visas will be facilitated in a timely manner so that students can take admission on time. The campus of the university is to be set up by 2014, for which land is being acquired in Mehrauli in South Delhi.