The University Grants Commission has decided to introduce career-oriented programmes as add-ons to conventional degrees offered by universities and colleges across the country. A look at this new initiative.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has embarked on a major programme with an aim to introduce career-oriented programmes in universities and colleges across the country. In the academic year 2011-12, the commission will support a variety of such courses in science, arts and commerce. These courses will be offered as an add-on activity under the scheme.

According to the guidelines proposed by the commission, it would like to offer the career-oriented programme as a flexible system of certificate/ diploma/ advanced diploma programme, which will run parallel to the conventional BA, B.Com. and B.Sc. degree courses. The universities/ colleges can formulate their own ‘need-based career-oriented courses' based on the guidelines suggested by the commission.

Universities and colleges will have to design the content for the courses based on the pattern proposed by the commission. The objective of this scheme is to introduce career and market-oriented, skill enhancing add-on courses that have utility for job, self-employment and empowerment of the students.

At the end of three years, the students will be equipped with a certificate/ diploma/ advanced diploma in an add-on orientation course along with a conventional degree in science/ arts/ commerce. The institutions should offer a wide range of career-oriented subjects in various related areas.

Some of the indicative courses for science stream could be information and computer technology; refrigeration; biotechnology; hospital waste disposal management and sericulture.

For the social sciences and Humanities streams, the courses could be of inter-disciplinary nature like applied sociology, applied psychology, tourism, fashion designing, translation proficiency, television and video production.

In the commerce stream, colleges could offer courses in insurance, banking, e-commerce world trade, foreign exchange trade and retailing. The courses offered should be of inter-disciplinary nature.

The commission has pointed out that there should be no watertight compartments and students should have the freedom to diversify into various fields not necessarily related with their core discipline.

For instance, a student pursuing a Bachelors' degree course in a science subject could side by side pursue a course in event management. Similarly a student with Arts background may have the option to pursue a course in science journalism.

The assistance available in this programme is only in the form of a one-time grant as ‘seed money'. The amount could be utilised for the purchase of books and journals, augmentation of laboratory facilities and equipment.

Assistance from the UGC will be available to the tune of Rs.5 lakh as one time 'seed money' for five years in the Humanities and commerce streams, and one time ‘seed money' of Rs.7 lakh will be granted for five years for the science stream. The colleges/ universities have to opt for a minimum of five courses in each stream of Humanities, commerce and science.

The qualitative and descriptive details of existing infrastructure, library resources, laboratories and workshops should be clearly specified in the application, as physical inputs are essential for the implementation of the programme.

The equipment and laboratory resources should be adequate in the institution for starting the career-oriented programmes. The applicant institutions must work out the economics and viability of each course before sending their proposal to the UGC.

The principal, coordinators and other staff/ members who are involved in the career-oriented courses and who, in addition to their workload, have to perform a number of functions such as arranging guest faculty, interacting with employing establishments for practical training of students, supervising the field work and project work of the students of career-oriented courses need to be paid suitable honorarium out of the resource generated by the institutions.

The commission has said that the course subject that an institution proposes will be introduced in the existing three degree programmes by way of add-on skill oriented subjects during the first, second and third year of education as certificate/ diploma/ advanced diploma courses along with conventional degree programmes of BA, B.Com. and B.Sc., respectively Detailed syllabi indicating the distribution of time between theory, practical/ field, work/ dissertation and pre-requisites for the choice of subjects, and periods to be allotted have to be worked out under the scheme by the universities based on the commission's guidelines.

It is envisaged to provide flexibility in choice of the combination of subjects, without any limitation. The colleges and universities are free to identify local need-based career oriented course/ inter-disciplinary courses of their choice.

They may seek help from industry/ service organisations and NGOs as well as individuals to develop the course design, contents and implementation methodology.

Training under the field institutions is one of the most important aspects of the career-oriented programme. The collaborating organisations/ NGOs/ institutions would accept students and allow them to participate in their profession/ service activities.

The commission has made it clear that a distinction between career-oriented subjects and other academic subjects would be made in terms of practical training, in its quality, quantum and modalities of organisation while framing career-oriented courses. The content/ nature of practical work must be skill-oriented and should aim at the development of marketable skills. Industrial collaboration and linkage with the organisations concerned and institutions as well as prospective employment agencies should be addressed.

The maximum number of students in one course of the career-oriented programme should not exceed 30-40 in the average class size to maintain quality and standard of teaching. The commission has suggested certificate, diploma and advanced diploma programmes under the scheme.

Certificate course: The course will be of 30 credits. Each credit will have 15 hours of workload out of which 10 credits should necessarily be assigned to field work/ project work/ training. The proof of this should be submitted during examination, as work experience certificate/ dissertation/ report duly issued and signed by the institutional authority/ coordinator/ faculty concerned.

Diploma course: The course will be of 60 credits (30 credits earned during certificate course). Each credit will have 15 hours of workload out of this 10 credits should necessarily be assigned to field work/ project work/ training.

Advanced diploma course: The course will be of 90 credits (60 credits earned together during certificate and diploma courses, respectively). Each credit will have 15 hours of workload. Out of this 10 credits should necessarily be assigned to field work/ project work/ training. The proof of this (field work/ project work/ training) should be submitted during the examination.

Certificate/ diploma/ advanced diploma in career-oriented programmes will be awarded on the basis of examination results and credits earned. Students may be permitted to complete certificate/ diploma/ advanced diploma in the same subject/ course or by completing the credits from other interdisciplinary career-oriented courses.

The commission has recommended that the college/ university will develop a 'career orientation council' that will maintain a profile of local job opportunities and will provide data support for career courses. The council will also monitor the career courses of the college and provide necessary feedback reports periodically to the commission.