Prof. Tirth Raj Khaniya, Former Vice-Chancellor of Tribhuvan University

Professor Dr. Khaniya is a proven visionary leader of higher education. As a former Vice-Chancellor, he will be sharing the wealth of knowledge and experience with the aspiring leaders of higher education around the world. He turned around one of the largest universities in the world setting an example of successful change management. As Vice-Chancellor of Tribhuvan University, he collaborated with international organizations to transform the lesser-known teaching-centered university into an internationally recognized research institution listed among the top world-class universities. He initiated a student-centered learning approach throughout the university consisting of more than one thousand campuses, changed the annual high stake examinations into semester-based practical skill assessments, and navigated political attacks with grace. As he brought the dwindling university back to track, he sketched Strategic Vision 2030  geared to transform the behemoth institution before his four-year term as the chief executive ended in September 2019. 

He created a sense of urgency and brought various constituencies together around his vision of transforming the national higher education institution. He settled the ongoing debates, successfully conducted the student union elections, consolidated the resources, equipped classrooms and labs, and streamlined services. The institution was so entrenched in pessimism that when the news broke out about TU’s rise in the Times Higher Education, too many people reeled in disbelief. 

Dr. Khaniya brings a wealth of expertise and experience working in various policy level positions. He has served as a Member of the National Planning Commission of Nepal between 2007 and 2009. Before that, he served as the Vice-Chairman of the Higher Secondary Education Board (HSEB) from 1996 to 2000. In this inaugural position, Dr. Khaniya brought about substantial changes in School Education (Grades 11 and 12) in Nepal initiating the country towards producing the much-needed workforce and a more engaged youth population. He also effectively facilitated the process of enabling secondary schools to run grades 11 and 12 all over the country by providing access for rural girls and boys without leaving home. This could be one of the major achievements of Nepal in the field of reform in education after the political change that took place in 1990. He was given several other responsibilities by the Nepal Government. In the capacity of Vice-Chancellor, he has been able to bring about reform in Nepalese Higher Education in terms of implementing the semester system all over the country, reconstruction of university infrastructure after a great damage by the last earthquake, internationalization of the university by gaining fame at international level and quality enhancement, timely exam and results, etc. Tribhuvan University, for the first time, has been declared a World Ranked University within 801-1000 by Times Higher Education for 2019. On the whole,  Prof. Dr. Khaniya has made outstanding contributions to the development of the quality school and higher education accessible for general masses in Nepal. 

Tirth Raj Khaniya was born in a Nepali farming family in the Lamjung district. In search of farming land, Khaniya’s family landed in Chitawan, a district in the southern part of Nepal in the late 1960s. Mr. Khaniya completed High School level education from Chitwan district. Later, Mr. Khaniya joined Tribhuvan University for his undergraduate studies. He completed the Undergraduate Degrees in Education in 1976, Bachelor of Law Degree in 1986, and a Master’s Degree in Education in 1987, all from Tribhuvan University. He did Ph. D. in Applied Linguistics from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, the UK in 1990. Dr. Khaniya won the Post-Doctoral Fulbright Fellowship to do the research study in Education at the George Washington University (GWU), Washington D.C. in 2002-2003.  

Dr. Khaniya served as Campus Chief of Birendra Multiple Campus, Chitawan, Nepal. Dr. Khaniya also served as Head of the Department of English Education, Tribhuvan University. He also worked as Director of Basic and Primary Education Project (BPEP) funded by multi-donors which brought about significant changes in primary education in Nepal in terms of change in curriculum, text materials, teacher training, and school classroom construction. 

Dr. Khaniya is a recipient of The British Government’s Development Scholarship and Fulbright Post-Doctoral Fellowship. Among many academic contributions, Dr. Khaniya’s principle research areas include how to make quality education sustainably accessible to low and medium-income families. Dr. Khaniya has many peer-reviewed articles to his credit. Some of these articles are published in top-notch international journals.  He has written three books as a single author and has co-authorship in four books.   

Dr. Khaniya has led various education reform teams commissioned by the Nepal Government. In Nepal, he worked as a Team Leader for a) Pro-poor Secondary Education; b) National Assessment of Student Achievement; c) Developing Framework for Medical Education; and d) led various Projects in Education supported by The World Bank, ADB, UNESCO, DANIDA, DFID, UNICEF, and JICA. 

Dr. Khaniya’s outstanding service to higher education has been well recognized. In 2017, the President of Nepal Hon’ble Bidya Bhandari decorated him with the highest-ranking national award Sukritimaya Rastradip (Meritorious Act Light of Nation).

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Dr. Khaniya being decorated by the presidential medal