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UniTec model zeroes in on zero unemployment

Published : Tuesday, 16 April, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 1106

UniTec model zeroes in on zero unemployment

UniTec model zeroes in on zero unemployment

The world of work and world of education are increasingly converging across the globe. We should come out of the traditional idealistic concept of education as a means of knowledge gathering but rather, focus on work-oriented learning. In the global commercial world, education is no longer a service only but also a business. The UniTec model is based on collaboration between universities and technical sectors such as polytechnics and industries. The model does not initially focus on business but rather places our universities at a level that is sustainable and produces job-ready graduates. However, it will generate substantial income from foreign students when the model matures in 5-10 years.

Over the last decade I have been following the ways the world top universities are operating their programs, contributing to their national economy and the way we do and/or contribute. Under several fellowships I have got opportunities to visit and research on many universities in Australia, Europe and the USA as well as many schools and colleges. These experiences and observations provided me the impression that we require a paradigm shift of our higher education today or tomorrow.
Lets consider that a BUET, DU or Dhaka Medical graduate migrated to Australia or Canada and are earning more than the average income threshold. It is not hard for them to payback the tuition fees as a contribution to their respective institutions. Those graduates working in Bangladesh may be waived 50 percent if not earning better salary. Thus, everybody should contribute for the betterment of their university and country.
What is it - Integration of General and Technical Education: Students require to complete two accredited skill or certification programs along with good communication skills. In the first year of enrolment, proficiency in English language should be acquired at the level of IELTS or equivalent instead of general English course. Two relevant or even different certification programs should be completed in second and third year. For example, a mechanical engineering student may complete a trade course in automobile and driving, an electrical engineering student may complete a trade course in electrical wiring and plumbing. A social science student may complete a graphics, animation and video editing course, and carpentry. In the final year students may consider internships and/or another language if interested to work in different countries other than Bangladesh and English-speaking countries such as Arabic, French or German. Students may choose from a range of varied course offerings for certification, but the proficiency level should be at the international standard.

How does it operate -Through Flexible Block and Work Oriented Curriculum: Curriculum should be flexible, need-based and time-driven. Universities may introduce flexible block mode at Year 3 Bachelor Level and the beginning of Masters where students can take 1 course at a time over 4 weeks (full-time and part-time) in the study area of arts and humanities, education, health and sports science and 2 courses at a time over 8 weeks (full-time) or 1 course at a time over 8 weeks (part-time) in business, engineering, science or IT areas. These types of flexible options enable students to work part-time while studying even full-time and it is quite common in the developed world. It enables students to engage in work while studying and get good experience before engaging at workplace after graduation.

How is it financed - Via Sustainable Higher Education Contribution Scheme: In Australia, UK, Canada or USA, average tuition fee for bachelor programs in medical science is 2-3 crore in Bangladeshi Taka, 1.5-2.0 crore in Engineering and IT and others not less than 1 crore. Masters programs are in the range of 0.5-1.0 crore. Subject areas are classified in terms of bands for tuition fees. In the context of Bangladesh, universities could be classified in 3-4 categories by introducing National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) and then subject areas by 5-7 bands with government subsidised and full-fee options. For example, consider tuition fee for medical students in Bangladesh is 15 Lakh, 10 Lakh for Engineering and 5 Lakh for other graduates. Students will continue paying their tuition fees as usual, and the remaining amount will be recorded to their unique student id account. After graduation when they will get jobs and their income is more than the average salary threshold, they have to payback to their universities. It is not a loan but contribution to their university. Each student and guardians must have a Tax Identification Number (TIN) while getting admission to make right decision about tuition fees. This collected money will be spent for their betterment in terms of career counselling, research and projects, technical skills development, industry internships, arranging job fairs, assisting higher study options and job prospects at home and abroad.

Successful implementation of UniTec model may turn to 91 percent graduate employment for instance if traditionally it is 19 percent and 8-10 times increased income from remittance and local market. Within 5-10 years the model will mature and start generating incomes from foreign students as by that time at least our category 1 universities will be in a position to provide high quality education and training to local and international students particularly from Asia, Africa and the Middle East via online and blended model. Alongside producing graduates to combat challenges of the 4th industrial revolution, we should not forget that Robot will not come to your house to fix electricity, gas or water supply lines whether it is 4th or 8th industrial revolution era, therefore demand of technical and vocational education graduates will rise and their salary is not less than $6-8 thousand in developed countries. For new public and private universities having limited impacts or income may merge into others with more vocational orientation to produce skilled graduates and contribute to the economy. In 2041 Bangladesh is expected to be a developed country but it won be sustainable without having good educational institutions. If our policy makers consider an effective model like UniTec, it won be impossible to expect at least 41 of our universities to respond to the challenges ahead and position themselves globally by 2041for branding Education Bangladesh.

The writer is a Curriculum, Digital Education and Cyber Security Expert, Melbourne, Australia

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