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UGC approves guidelines for credit-linked short-term courses

New Delhi: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has approved guidelines for introducing short-term industry-relevant certificate courses with up to 30 credits in the higher educational institutes to bridge the skill gap and boost productivity of students at the workplace, officials said on Thursday.

The “guidelines for the introduction of short-term skill development courses in higher educational institutes (HEIs)” were approved during a meeting held by the UGC on Thursday.

The duration of the courses will be between three to six months with a major focus on practical learning.

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The draft of the guidelines will soon be released in the public domain seeking feedback from stakeholders, the officials said.

According to the draft guidelines, the courses can be taken by students pursuing degrees or diplomas at the HEIs or anyone who has cleared class 12 or its equivalent.

“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,” UGC Chairman Jagadesh Kumar said.

“These courses can also be taken by students who have dropped out of colleges and universities. The idea is to provide suitable skills to such students to make them employable,” he said.

Under the new guidelines, universities and colleges will offer short-term skill development courses in any stream with at least 12 credits and a maximum of 30 credits.

The draft mentions 27 focus areas for the credit-linked short-term skill development courses, which include AI, robotics, Internet of Things, data science and analytics, electronic system designs, digital marketing, yogic sciences, and soft skills and courses in effective communication, critical thinking and problem-solving, among others.

“All HEIs, having infrastructure and training capacity, will be eligible to offer short-term skill development courses after getting due approval of their statutory bodies or boards of management. Under these guidelines, the HEIs are expected to establish a “Centre for Skill Development Courses”, headed by a senior professor, for introducing these courses,” it said.

“The center shall maintain a profile of local job opportunities, Skill requirements for the local industry in the region and will provide data support for these courses. The centre shall also monitor the design, adoption and delivery of the short-duration skill development courses,” the draft stated.

The centre can either be established by the HEIs on their own or through collaboration with the industry. The centre 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 centre shall be assessed every three years by an External Committee constituted by the Vice-Chancellor/Principal,” stated the draft guidelines.

“The maximum student intake in one short-term skill development course should not exceed 60 for each cohort. The HEI may start multiple cohorts of any course depending on the demand of the course and the suitable infrastructure/faculty availability,” the commission said.

Noting that the curriculum in each course will be a suitable mix of general and skill components, the UGC said, “The skill component shall have a minimum of 60 per cent of the total credits and can go up to 70 per cent 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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