Unique ‘Design Your Degree’ prog to boost employability, innovation skills: JU VC

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By Vishal Bharti

Fulfilling the objective of the National Education Policy-2020 and its true implementation on the ground, the innovative ‘Design Your Degree’ programme will boost employability and innovation skills that will contribute to nation building, said Prof. Umesh Rai, Vice Chancellor, University of Jammu.

“The unique ‘Design Your Degree’ programme is very innovative and has been framed in a true spirit under the NEP-2020,” Prof Rai told UNI in a conversation here on Friday.

“Youth is our strength, and we need to channelize their energies into innovations and the development of the country. This exactly is what the ‘Design Your Degree’ initiative will be doing in the future,” said the Vice Chancellor, stating that employability of students, besides Innovation Capacity and Incubation of start-ups, through such noble ideas always helps in nation building.

Sharing the purpose of the ‘Design Your Degree’ programme, the Vice Chancellor said that skilled youth contribute to nation building with a strong foundation, which not only the Government of Jammu and Kashmir but also the Government of India is supporting in all means, including the required grants that have already been sanctioned.

Notably, Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, who is also the Chancellor of the University of Jammu, said on June 13 while chairing the J&K Higher Education Council meeting at Srinagar that ‘Design Your Degree’ is one of the cornerstones of the National Education Policy-2020 and will promote applicative learning, skill enhancement aligned with the needs of the 21st century, and provide a unique opportunity for students to shape their curriculum.

However, the Vice Chancellor further told UNI, “The motivation of this programme is to empower our students with mathematical ability, analytical ability, critical teaching skills, communication skills, computer programming, and Artificial Intelligence so that those students, who have to drop their degrees for some reasons, need not to search for a job and they become self reliant.”

Prof. Rai stated that the students will be skilled in four semesters, following which (Fifth Semester) they will plan their curriculum accordingly to shape their future, adding, “We need to motivate the students, and the mentors are supposed to provide the motivational environment in making them learn the skills.”

Quoting an example, the students with a background in humanity, social sciences, and commerce sciences who pass the higher secondary (12th) will be taught in a cluster through peer learning in which mathematical, analytical, computer programming, Artificial intelligence, and critical thinking will be focused upon in the entrance examination to test their sharp brains.

The VC said that in 2012, he and then Vice Chancellor of the Delhi University (presently Vice Chairman, J&K Higher Education Council), Prof. Dinesh Singh had already implemented this innovative idea at the Delhi University.

“After the ‘Design Your Degree’ programme introduction, 18 StartUps were launched from DU, and the multinational technology company ‘Google’ also bought them,” he added.

Prof Rai revealed that not only will the students be skilled by a battery of experts and technical faculty, but simultaneously, under Capacity Building, the faculty will also be trained to further enhance their abilities in training and guiding the students.

“If required, mentors from abroad will also be invited for sessions,” said Prof Rai adding that the Jammu University has already identified 15 such faculty members, who will be trained very shortly adding, “It was also resolved in a meeting chaired by the LG Manoj Sinha that this model will be implemented in all the universities across the Jammu and Kashmir.”

He added that the Jammu University will implement this programme from the current academic year (2023–24) and shall conduct the entrance test, adding that similarly, the rest of the universities will also conduct the entrance exam, focusing on the critical thinking of a student rather than being subject-oriented.”

From next academic year, he said, “that it is expected that a UT level Common Entrance Test will be conducted to get the students admitted to the universities introducing the ‘Design Your Degree’ programme.”

The journey of our Amrit Kaal will not only be about degrees but also about skills and values. No classroom can afford to teach subjects that are irrelevant in today’s context,” the Lt Governor had said in a meeting.

He observed that the 5 Cs—critical evaluation—are a must for future strategies, Critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, and curiosity will build an equitable and vibrant knowledge society.

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