The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) is continuously working to promote skill development and vocational education across the country. The university has immense presence in vocational education sector at the undergraduate, post-graduate and doctoral levels. This is reflected in number of Diplomas and Certificates awarded by the University during the last five convocations.
“Out of the seven lakh qualifications awarded by the University in the last five years, 2.5 lakh (35 percent) were graduates and above, and 4.5 lakh (65 percent) were Certificates and Diplomas,” said Prof. V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai, VC, IGNOU.
The Open University also pitches for transition from the Certificate/Diploma to higher-level university degrees. It is very important that the University system should promote the Diploma to Degree transition for aspiring Diploma holders. In the technical education system, there are avenues in specific universities for Diploma holders to join at the second or third year of the Engineering Degree Programme. A similar pattern is necessary for the conventional universities and the Open University System as well.
The fact that a vast majority of these Diploma holders are working people from industry or working in grassroots-level organizations lends further credibility to this proposal. Making Diploma or Advanced Diploma holders eligible for admission to a University Degree has been an established practice in higher education systems all over the world.
In the proposed National Vocational Qualification Framework (NVQF) of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, this transfer from the vocational sector to the higher education sector is being facilitated. Certificate (16 credits), Diploma (32 credits), Advanced Diploma or Associate Degree (64 credits) — which is a terminal qualification — are the qualifications prevalent in the skill development and vocational education sectors. The difference between the Advanced Diploma and Associate Degree specifications are that the Associate Degree provides additional content, which will make the candidates well-prepared for University education in the concerned discipline.
“IGNOU has initiated the two-year Associate Degree Programme through the Community Colleges in line with the recommendations of the National Knowledge Commission and the Planning Commission, Government of India. After a two-year-long academic deliberation involving expertise from all over the country, we formally launched the programme in 2008. The first Associate Degrees was awarded in the 22nd Convocation of the University,” added Pillai.
Such efforts in skill development are very necessary for making people employable and enhancing the Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER). The Governments of Haryana and Madhya Pradesh, Indian Army, Indian Navy, M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Jindal Education Initiative, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, Apparel Promotion and Exports Council (APEC) of India and about 300 Civil Society Organisations in the public and private sector are the partners of IGNOU in this nationwide Community College Initiative.