In a significant move to address the prevailing skill gap and enhance the employability of students, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has given its nod to guidelines for the introduction of short-term industry-relevant certificate courses in higher educational institutes (HEIs). Officials confirmed this decision on Thursday, following a meeting held by the UGC.
The approved “guidelines for the introduction of short-term skill development courses in higher educational institutes (HEIs)” will pave the way for HEIs to offer courses with up to 30 credits, focusing on practical learning to boost students’ productivity in the workplace. The duration of these courses will range between three and six months.
Draft guidelines will soon be released to the public for feedback from stakeholders, indicating a commitment to transparency and collaboration in the development of these courses.
According to the proposed guidelines, these short-term skill development courses will be open to students pursuing degrees or diplomas at HEIs, as well as individuals who have completed class 12 or its equivalent. UGC Chairman Jagadesh Kumar emphasised that this initiative aligns with the objectives of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, encouraging a shift from traditional learning methods to holistic learning.
“These courses will enable students to acquire desired competency levels and acquire additional skills to upgrade their competencies further, and transition to the job market,” stated Kumar. The courses will also be available to students who have dropped out of colleges and universities, aiming to make them more employable.
KEY FOCUS AREAS
The draft guidelines outline 27 focus areas for the credit-linked short-term skill development courses, encompassing emerging fields such as AI, robotics, Internet of Things, data science and analytics, digital marketing, yogic sciences, and soft skills, among others.
To implement these courses effectively, the guidelines propose the establishment of a “Centre for Skill Development Courses” in HEIs, headed by a senior professor. This centre will play a crucial role in maintaining profiles of local job opportunities, skill requirements in the region, and provide data support for the courses. The centre can be established independently by HEIs or through collaboration with the industry.
HEIs are expected to publish crucial information about the short-term skill development courses on their websites, including the nomenclature, number of seats, admission criteria, course structure, fee structure, details of admitted students, and certificates issued for each course.
The UGC emphasises the importance of assessing the performance of these centres every three years through an External Committee constituted by the Vice-Chancellor/Principal. The guidelines also set a maximum student intake limit of 60 for each cohort in one short-term skill development course, with the flexibility to start multiple cohorts based on demand and available infrastructure and faculty.
Ensuring a practical approach to learning, the UGC stipulates that the skill component in each course should constitute a minimum of 60 percent and can go up to 70 percent of the total credits. This component will include practical classes in laboratories, workshops, industry premises, and other forms of hands-on training within the HEI’s catchment area.