New Delhi: After a decade of deliberations, the government on Wednesday decided to open 200 community colleges from the next academic session.
The community colleges will provide three-year undergraduate programmes with flexible course structures. The colleges can also provide short-term management courses similar to business schools to produce a job-ready workforce and entrepreneurs.
Such colleges can provide region-specific efficient workforce to companies, human resource development (HRD) minister M.M. Pallam Raju said.
He was speaking at the inauguration of an international conference on community colleges in New Delhi.
Such colleges will have a board with representations from industry to ensure desired standards, a model followed by the Indian Institutes of Technology and Indian Institutes of Management.
“Industry will also have representations on the board of studies and board of management of these colleges, thus going a long way in restoring industry confidence in competence of the prospective employees,” Raju said, a day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh criticized the declining quality of higher education.
These colleges will be autonomous and will be officially accredited.
To start with, they will have the backing of the central and state governments and, with time, the running of such institutions will have private participation, said a HRD ministry document.
The minister said that industry, including business and services sector, would be associated at all levels—development of curriculum, training of teachers, supply of guest faculty, development and maintenance of laboratories workshops for hands-on practical training and evaluation.
Raju said that while 3 million students take up higher education every year, only 25% are employable and meet the industry requirement.
If a community college is in a mining area, then it must provide courses in mining with support from industry, an official from the HRD ministry said. If the locality is known for fishing or tourism, then the colleges must have such programmes so that graduates get employment.
Following the Prime Minister’s advice on making education flexible, these colleges will offer them in plenty. The three-year courses will be credit based and would be subdivided into certificate, diploma, advanced diploma and degree.
“All the courses offered by these colleges will be modular...and banking of credits earned would be permitted. The learners will have the option to exit after completing certain credit points of a course and rejoin at his full convenience later with full protection of credits already earned by him,” said the HRD document.
For better results from community colleges, they must be modelled on local requirements, said S. Ramadorai, adviser to the Prime Minister on skill development.
Since education experts from 60 countries are participating in the conference on community colleges they can learn about the practices followed in countries such as the US, Australia, Germany, Canada and the UK and incorporate them here, HRD ministry officials said.