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UGC Guidelines: Short-Term Skill Development Courses for Higher Education

According to authorities, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has approved guidelines for implementing short-term industry-relevant certificate courses at higher educational institutes (HEIs) to bridge the skill gap and boost student productivity at the workplace.

The Commission adopted “guidelines for the introduction of short-term skill development courses in higher educational institutes (HEIs)” during a meeting on Thursday. The guidelines’ draft will be made available soon in order to solicit comments from stakeholders.

According to UGC chairperson M Jagadesh Kumar, universities and colleges would provide short-term skill development courses in any discipline with at least 12 credits and a maximum of 30 credits under the new regulations.

“This initiative is coherent with the objective of National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 that encourages switching from the traditional rote, content-heavy learning method to holistic learning. The short-term skill development certificate courses will enable students to acquire desired competency levels and acquire additional skills to upgrade their competencies further, and transit to the job market,” Kumar said.

According to Kumar, these courses are open to students seeking degrees or certificates at HEIs as well as any individual who has completed class 12 or its equivalent. “Students who have dropped out of colleges/universities can also take these courses.” “The idea is to provide appropriate skills to such students in order to make them employable,” he explained.

According to a draft of the rules obtained by HT, all HEIs with infrastructure and training capacity will be able to provide short-term skill development courses after their statutory bodies or boards of management have given their approval.

The proposal proposed a number of developing fields in which the courses may be added, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), robots, IoT (Internet of Things), Data Science and Analytics, Cloud Computing, 5G Connectivity,  cyber security, mobile communication, fashion technology, Yogic Sciences, and start-ups and entrepreneurship, among others.

According to these rules, HEIs must create a “Centre for Skill Development Courses” led by a senior professor to introduce these courses. “The center will maintain a profile of local job opportunities, skill requirements for the region’s local industry, and data support for these courses.” The center will also “monitor the design, adoption, and delivery of short-duration skill development courses,” according to the draft.

The Center can be formed by HEIs on their own or in conjunction with industry. The center shall publish information such as the nomenclature of the short term skill development courses, number of seats, admission criterion, course structure, fee structure, details of admitted students, and certificates issued for each course, on the HEI’s website as mandatory disclosure, according to the guidelines.

“The performance of the center shall be assessed every three years by an External Committee constituted by the Vice-Chancellor/Principal,” according to the draft regulations.

In terms of course format, the proposed rules state that the courses will last three to six months, with a strong emphasis on practical learning. “The maximum student intake in one short-term skill development course for each cohort should not exceed 60.” “The HEI may begin multiple cohorts of any course based on course demand and appropriate infrastructure/faculty availability,” the panel stated.

The Commission stated that the curriculum in each course would be a proper combination of general and skill components, and that “the  skill component shall have a minimum of 60% of the total credits and can go up to 70% of the total credits. The skill component will include practical classes in laboratories, workshops and industry premises and any other form of hands-on training with the catchment area of the HEI.”

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