The University Grants Commission (UGC) is institutionalising a provision to allow undergraduate students to work with researchers, scientists, academic supervisors and industrial R&D labs to gain hands-on experience on innovation and to learn research techniques early.
The higher education regulator is planning to make such internships and immersions mandatory for under-graduate students who wish to exit from courses after one or two years, instead of pursuing a full 4-year UG degree.
The New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has a provision that allows students to avail multiple entry and exit during a four-year degree course.
“The internships of 8-10 weeks of 10 credits, after the second or fourth semester, will be mandatory for students who wish to exit with a certificate or diploma, respectively. Continuing students may, however, undergo optional research internships after 2nd / 4th semester, to enhance their research capabilities, by engaging as interns in HEI (higher educational institutions)/research institute/industrial R&D labs,” as per the UGC draft guidelines reviewed by Moneycontrol.
As per the draft guidelines prepared by the UGC, headed by chairman M Jagadesh Kumar, an institutionalisation of research internship and immersions at UG levels will play a key role “in catalysing interdisciplinary/multi-disciplinary/trans-disciplinary…research culture” as envisaged in the new education policy.
The initiative will “provide an opportunity to under-graduate students to carry out research in a real-work environment with faculty guidance over a specific period, create conditions conducive for students to exercise a quest for knowledge and its discovery and applicability for solving…real-life problems,” the guidelines say.
It will also familiarise students with research methods, analytical tools and techniques, train them how to write research proposals, scientific reports, presentations and manuscripts for publication. It may also facilitate researchers in HEIs, research organisations, and R&D labs to look for innovative solutions through research interns. A minimum of 20 credits out of the required 160 of the 4-Year degree course can come from this practical-oriented immersion initiative.
UGC draft guidelines also underline that domain-specific students can work with nationally reputed organisations and distinguished individuals in specific fields, including draftsmen, artisans, musicians, artists, choreographers, etc.
These internship programmes focus primarily on the employability of students and specified outcomes by competencies desired at industrial centres. The newly introduced course structure in NEP2020 envisages the integration of research components in degree programmes, specifically for the four-year degree programmes with Bachelor’s Degree (research) that has the fourth year focused on developing research competencies among students.This calls for developing a system of offering research internships to undergraduate students, with defined levels of competencies required for pursuing research. The framework would specify how HEIs can support interns as a provider or as an organiser, and how research organisations or research centres/laboratories can support research internships as providers, the UGC guidelines underline.