New delhi : There's good news for students interested in pursuing skill-based courses after class 12. The University Grants Commission (UGC) has approved 98 community colleges across India which will offer skill-based courses ranging from six months to two years from 2014-15. Of these, 16 are from Maharashtra – the largest among states. Maharashtra is followed by Tamil Nadu (13), Assam (14) and Kerala (11).
The UGC received 320 proposals from across India. The present list of colleges is part of the UGC's 100 community college scheme announced in the 12th five-year plan with the aim of offering nationally standardised and acceptable skill-based programmes.
The community colleges will be an extension of existing colleges in rural and tribal areas which will function in collaboration with the industry. They will offer six month, one and two-year courses (certificate, diploma and advanced diploma), all accredited and taught by core and guest faculty from the industry. The curricula will be prepared by varsities and the UGC will monitor the infrastructure of these colleges. Each course will be restricted to 60 students.
Automobile management, food processing, horticulture, healthcare, cast iron foundry, hospitality and tourism, power plant, chemistry, information technology are some of the courses that students can opt for in Maharashtra. However, UGC has sanctioned only one or two courses for each college for which it will grant Rs1 crore in two years. At present, the universities do not offer these courses.
"The community college concept is quite popular in the US, UK, Japan, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Germany and other countries for many decades. They provide an important additional layer of education where students can learn practical skills and get theoretical knowledge from universities if they like," said a UGC official.
More colleges and courses could be approved in the next phase.
A UGC note on community college states India's population is growing at 2 per cent annually whereas unemployment is around 4.6 crore; it is likely to grow to 5-6 crore in 8-10 years. To provide employment to them is a daunting task as these numbers are more than the population of countries like France, Italy and UK.
In terms of demographics, almost 35 per cent of Indians are below the age of 15 while 18 per cent are in the 15-24 age group. The median age in India is 24 years, which makes it one of the youngest populations in the world. This in itself throws up huge challenges in terms of demands on the education and employment systems.