Context: Covid 19 has exposed the vulnerabilities of Indian Universities in delivering quality skills and education which will now hinder the employability of students in post covid scenario.

More on news:

  • The lockdown has exposed the urgency of reforming skill universities which are held back by regulatory measures from -
    • 2 acts (UGC Act of 1956, Apprenticeship Act 1961) and 
    • 3 regulations (UGC Online Regulations 2018, UGC Teacher regulations 2018, NAAC IQAC Regulations).
  • Further reform is necessary to uphold social equality as the majority of students in these skill universities come from lower strata of society.

Problems associated with Traditional Universities:

  • Broken employability promises -  The university promises to impart world class education which would make an individual employable but often fails to deliver the same.
    • The same is true at Global level as the world produced more graduates in the last 35 years than the 700 years before.
    • They include 60 percent of Korea’s taxi drivers, 31 percent of US retail check-out clerks, and 15 per cent of India’s high-end security guards. 
  • Poor Employment Connectivity - Lack of job interviews and placement drives results in significant proportion of students remaining unemployed even after their course completion. 
  • Poor Return on Investment - Universities ( especially private) charge huge amounts of money from students while the job placements are not very attractive , resulting in poor return on investment. 
    • This further results in stress for the banking sector as well as can be observed w.r.t high NPAs in Education Loans.
  • Inclusiveness Deficit - The system works for privileged urban males studying full-time, but today’s students are likely to be female, poor, older, rural, or studying part-time. 
    • The majority of Graduates come from affluent families and lower rungs of society are often alluded from the university campus.
  • Obsolete Curriculums - Universities fail to update their curriculum in consonance with the industrial demand as a result the company needs to spend a substantial amount of money in training the employees which results in lower packages. 

Skill Universities

Traditional Universities

Learning Exposure

It has four classrooms; on-campus, on-line, on-site, and on-the-job. 

Two Classrooms - On campus and On line.


It offers four qualifications; certificates, diplomas, advanced diplomas, and degrees.

They mainly offer Degree qualifications and rarely diplomas as well.


Industry relevant skills

Theoretical Traditional Education


And it has four sources of financing — employers, students, CSR, and loans (though employers contribute more than 95 per cent of the costs). 

It also has different financiers but the government is generally the biggest contributor.


All its things namely governance, faculty, curriculum, and pedagogy are decided mainly by the employer funding the university.

Even if it is a private university , then curriculum can’t be decided without following government guidelines.

Way Ahead: 

  • Skill Universities need to work like 1/4th college, 1/4th ITI, 1/4th apprenticeship, and 1/4th employment exchange
  • They are a scalable, sustainable, and affordable vehicle to massify higher education by innovations in finance. But they need regulatory change. 
    • The UGC Act of 1956 needs rewriting:
      • To equalise four classrooms (online, on-site, on-campus, and on-job) and 
      • To recognise apprenticeship linked degree programmes
    • The Apprenticeship Act of 1961 also needs to be modified to allow and lift the licence raj for degree-linked apprentices and recognise skills universities.
    • NAAC ( National Assessment and Accreditation Council) IQAC (Internal Quality Assurance Cell ) Regulations need rewriting
      • To include work-based learning and work integrated learning
      • To include life skills and proctored/evaluated internships
      • To integrate online learning with university programmes
      • To recognise teachers with industry experience, and include industry-based research
      • To include industry workplaces and online classrooms as campus extensions
    • The UGC Teacher Regulations of 2018 need rewriting:
      • To redefine the qualifications, roles and numbers of teachers required, and 
      • To recognise industry experience as a teaching qualification. 
    • The UGC Online Regulations 2018 need to be rewritten: 
      • To allow innovation, flexibility, credit frameworks, and relevance in online curriculums
      • To allow universities to work with any technology platforms.

Education reforms are an endeavour of profound optimism but have been stifled by purists, vested interests, and regulators. But the history lurched over the last 60 days and COVID has exposed the vulnerability of the education system. Thus the above reforms to liberate the skill universities must be brought expeditiously.  


Image Source: Indianexpress