The idea of establishing a South Asian University (SAU) was mooted by the Prime Minister of India at the 13th SAARC Summit in Dhaka in 2005. The idea was for 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.
The Government of India established a Project Office of the SAU in the year 2008, of which Prof. GK Chadha, a former Vice Chancellor of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, was appointed the Chief Executive Officer. A SAARC Steering Committee comprising members from all SAARC countries was constituted to oversee the establishment of SAU. Various Inter-Governmental Task Forces were also constituted and entrusted the job of framing the Rules and Regulations to govern the University as also the Academic Structure and the Business Plan for the proposed University. All University documents prepared jointly by the SAU Task Forces were submitted to SAARC Secretariat and were approved in the 16th SAARC Summit held in Thimphu in 2010. The SAU Project Office was wound up and the South Asian University opened its door to students in August 2010. Currently, the University offers doctoral and master's programs in seven areas: Applied Mathematics, Biotechnology, Computer Science, Economics, International Relations, Law and Sociology.