Maharashtra State Skills University, State’s Only Public Skills Varsity, Awaits Campus & Regular Teachers

Maharashtra State Skills University, State’s Only Public Skills Varsity, Awaits Campus & Regular Teachers

The institute would train and provide jobs to a large number of youths through an industry-aligned curriculum, it was announced. The varsity was to have six sub-campuses, dubbed as Centres of Excellence (CoE), one each in the state’s six revenue divisions.

Musab QaziUpdated: Wednesday, April 03, 2024, 10:43 PM IST
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Maharashtra State Skills University, State’s Only Public Skills Varsity, Awaits Campus & Regular Teachers |

Mumbai: In March 2021, the state legislature cleared the way to establish the Maharashtra State Skills University (MSSU), a one-of-its-kind varsity dedicated to skill-based and employment-oriented higher education. The institute would train and provide jobs to a large number of youths through an industry-aligned curriculum, it was announced. The varsity was to have six sub-campuses, dubbed as Centres of Excellence (CoE), one each in the state’s six revenue divisions.

Three years on, these lofty plans still appear to be a distant dream as the state is yet to put some of the basics in place. While the institute started its first academic session in 2022, it is yet to get a permanent campus or a regular faculty. As a result, the nascent varsity rents classroom spaces and hires contractual faculty to teach its 300-odd students.

The idea of setting up skills universities came to the fore after the BJP-led government came to power at the Centre in 2014. While the Union government initially began the process of establishing national skills universities, and even came out with a draft bill, the plan was shelved in 2018. Instead, the Centre decided to allow the states to establish these varsities as per specific needs.

Varsity Sans Staff

The MSSU is yet to recruit full-time teaching and non-teaching staff, as the state government hasn’t approved the proposed staffing pattern for the new university, which includes 262 posts for faculty members and 106 for non-teaching staffers.

The varsity is likely to be allowed to fill these posts in a staggered manner over the next few years, with 59 teachers and half of the non-teaching staff slated to be recruited in the first cycle. The final nod will come from a high-powered committee headed by the chief secretary.

In the absence of regular teachers, the varsity has relied on around 20 temporary teachers, some of whom are professors of practice, industry experts hired as educators, while a few, including a foreign national, are adjunct (part-time) professors.

Om Prakash Gupta, additional chief secretary at the Skills, Employment, Entrepreneurship and Innovation department said that the delay in approving staff positions is due to the unique nature of the university. He said, “This is a one-of-a-kind university that we are building from scratch. We need to consider the structure and format of its programmes, in order to assess how many people are needed to run them. For now, they have been allowed to hire contractual teachers and professors of practice. Even after creating new posts, I imagine at least 50% of the teaching staff to be drawn from industry.”

No Permanent Address

While MSSU has been operational for two academic years, it so far doesn’t have a permanent address. While the government has allotted a nine-acre plot in Panvel to build the campus, the construction work is yet to begin. At the foundation stone laying ceremony in March last year at the hands of the governor and chancellor of the university Ramesh Bais, skill minister Mangal Prabhat Lodha had assured that the construction would begin in May and be completed by July this year.

According to varsity officials, there has been some progress on the ambitious project since last year. A project management consultancy has been appointed and a detailed project report has been prepared. While the university has received an initial cost estimation of the project by the state Public Works Department (PWD), it’s awaiting approval for the necessary funds from the government.

The varsity is currently headquartered at the Elphinstone Technical Institute building in Fort, which also houses several other educational institutes and government offices. The academic activities are run out of two rented properties in Kharghar (Navi Mumbai) and Pimpri-Chinchwad near Pune. The state has also handed over a few other land parcels and properties to the university, including a building at Lonavala, and 10,000 sq ft land each at Thane and Mulund, but none of them have been utilised so far.

The varsity plans to start a BBA Hospitality (Restaurant Management) programme at Lonavala and Sant Gadge Baba Swachh Bharat Kaushalya Prabhodhini at Thane in the upcoming academic year.

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