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UGC Draft Guidelines Propose Mandatory Internships for Undergraduate Students to Enhance Employability and Research Skills

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has released preliminary guidelines suggesting mandatory internships for undergraduate students as a means to enhance their employability and foster an understanding of research while earning academic credits. These draft guidelines, titled “Guidelines for Internship/Research Internship for Undergraduate Students,” are aligned with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, which emphasizes the integration of internships and research opportunities into undergraduate curricula. The UGC made these guidelines available to the public for feedback and suggestions.

The UGC has recognized that many graduates struggle to enter the workforce due to their lack of practical skills, knowledge, and experience, which employers typically seek. Internships are considered a crucial tool for improving these employability skills and can equip students with competency, professionalism, expertise, and confidence, as well as kindle their interest in research.

Currently, internships are not obligatory for all undergraduate programs and are primarily restricted to technical and professional courses. UGC Chairperson M Jagadesh Kumar believes that hands-on experience through internships will bridge the gap between academic learning and the real world, enhancing students’ grasp of concepts. He emphasizes the importance of students acquiring a broad range of skills, such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and time management. These internships, as outlined in the UGC guidelines, are designed to help students gain valuable soft and technical skills highly valued by employers and establish professional connections with potential mentors.

The draft guidelines propose two types of undergraduate internships: those focused on employability and those designed to cultivate a passion for research. For students pursuing a three-year undergraduate degree, a mandatory internship of 60 to 120 hours will occur after the fourth semester. Those opting for a four-year degree will participate in a research internship during the eighth semester. These internships can earn students up to 12 academic credits.

The guidelines also recommend the appointment of a coordinator or the establishment of a well-defined mechanism for the smooth coordination and execution of internships across diverse disciplines within each higher education institution’s research and development (R&D) cell.

Furthermore, the guidelines propose evaluating students during their internships. Evaluation methods may include assessments by the research internship supervisor based on the students’ efforts and research output or through seminar presentations and viva-voce at the higher education institution (HEI).

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