Time to transform higher education with skill education



Symbiosis, a leading education group of India has taken a big initiative in skilling the nation program through Symbiosis Skills & Open University at Pune. This will be a unique university that will offer cutting edge programs in engineering, management, architecture, ports & terminal etc. with focus on creating skilled graduates. The university model is based on the skill university models in Europe and Australia where emphasis is on practical training.
Dr. Swati Mujumdar, Principal Director of Symbiosis Open Education Society, has conceived the skills university model at Symbiosis. Here, she answers some questions regarding the university and how it will create skilled graduates instead of mere degree holders. She also emphasizes on the need to transform Indian Higher Education system by infusing skilling in it and the need to make students skill qualified than mere degree qualified.

Q. How did you come up with the concept of Symbiosis Skills and Open University (SSOU)?

Skill development is an important driver for industrial and economic growth of our country. For crystalizing “Make in India” and “Skill !ndia” vision of our Hon’ble. Prime Minister, a large pool of skilled workforce is required to be developed. Our country has a demographic dividend, which makes it the youngest country in the world. We can harness this young generation by providing them skills and work. So, how do we go about it was the big question? We studied various models of skill development and vocational education before we developed an innovative model of Skill Development University. During our  research,  we encountered two major problems. Students hesitated to enroll themselves in skill development courses as they do not find vertical mobility i.e.  all the way from certificate to degree programs   in skill education. The second reason was social acceptability.

To address these problems we have established a Skill Development University which will provide a range of skill based courses at all levels in line with the industry needs.

These were the reasons which germinated the idea of a skills university.

Skills Development University versus Conventional University
Q. How is Symbiosis Skills and Open University different from other conventional Universities?

The main idea of setting up Symbiosis Skills and Open University (SSOU) is to create ‘industry ready’ youth who can be gainfully employed upon completion of their courses. All programs offered by this University have been mapped with the job roles in the industry and the industry has helped to develop the curricula. The focus is on providing hands on training to the students with 70% practical & only 30% theory component. The students will be exposed to latest cutting edge technologies through specialized skill training labs & Centers of Excellence on the University campus set up with industry inputs. Coupled with this, the students will also be sent for industry internships, to ensure that the skills obtained are practiced in real life industry scenarios. Industry relevant projects, case studies, simulation based exercises will form an integral part of the course curriculum. The assessments in this University are completely skill oriented & outcome based and industry will be involved to conduct assessments.

Flexible learning pathways, with credit banking & transfer, multi-entry & exit, recognition of prior learning are some of the unique features that make this university different from a Conventional University. In addition, SSOU will use innovative technology solutions to deliver education to students located in remote corners.

The industry has been involved from the very beginning in developing the curricula, designing of skill training labs and identification of machinery & softwares for the University. Our industry partners are also setting up training academies and centers of excellence on the University campus. The industry will also be closely involved in conducting skill training, skill assessments, on the job training and joint research projects for the University.

The University will also have a Vocational & Employment Guidance Cell which will offer career guidance to the students.

Q. What are the different types of programs SSOU will offer?

SSOU will provide certificate, diploma  &  degree programs in high growth sectors of Automobile, Construction, Mechatronics, Retail, Hospital Administration, Architecture, Urban Development, Ports & Terminal Management and Beauty & Wellness. All these higher education programs make students industry ready with skill qualifications along with usual degree qualification! And we are sure industry will want only such skill-graduates than degree graduates! Jobs will chase such students after graduation than the other way round!

The University  will  also  have  a  Department  of Open, Distance Learning and Continuing Education to reach the unreached in order to provide education opportunities to students located in remote areas.

Features of SSOU
Q. Can you give us some examples of industry involvement in SSOU?

In conventional academia, industry is ‘made’ to participate in the form of guest lectures, seminars, visits to factories, internships etc. And most of the time, such engagements do not add real value to both the academia and industry. What we have done at SSOU are – industry sets up its workshop or a lab or a center of excellence at SSOU where not only their staff are trained but our students also get to training. Secondly, all our curricula are mapped with National Skill Qualification Framework that is developed by NSDC and sector skill council. This gives us direct access to not only the councils of the industries but also industry members directly. Moreover, we involve industry in skill assessment of students, thereby validating his skills against industry needs. Such meaningful engagements add unmatched value to students, entire teaching learning process at SSOU as well as to the industry that gains in the form of manpower that is productive from day one!

So we have such engagements in different forms with Future Group, SKF Bearings, HDFC Bank, MAN Trucks, Enrich Salon & Spa, Sector Skill Councils, Tata Motors and others for various programs.

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With inputs from editorial team at SSOU

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