Being the only public university dedicated to National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) students to obtain a degree, the University of Vocational Technology (UVT) has now decided to offer specialized four-year degrees. This decision was carefully made as a timely requirement of more than 15 professional technology sectors that have already been reserved. Basically, a degree with honors is awarded to any student who has successfully completed an undergraduate degree at the necessary level of proficiency and has done well academically.
A degree with honors does not indicate a particular mark of achievement, but there are usually criteria attached to it, such as maintaining certain academic achievements and grades.
It is important to keep in mind that the definition of an honors degree may differ depending on the academic context in which the courses are taught. However, there is a consensus on the main characteristics of the qualification.
An honors bachelor’s degree refers to an undergraduate degree that has an additional level of study, which is designed at a higher level than that of a general bachelor’s degree. At UVT, one of the particularities of this license is that students have the choice of leaving in the third year with a license of their own choosing.
Universities usually offer either a graduate with honors or a graduate with honors as a separate qualification from a three-year undergraduate qualification. In the case of the latter, it usually takes an additional year to complete. The UVT launches the diplomas with specialization in the two modalities where the transcript of records is issued for the specialized component for those who obtain the general diploma and participate in the convocation for the same. Those who wish to pursue the fourth year continuously can obtain the fourth year with honors.
This opportunity is now open to candidates who have successfully completed the three-year bachelor’s program offered by UVT in the relevant field or to candidates awaiting final results (academic year 2017/18). However, if the number of candidates exceeds the number of places available, the pre-selection will be made on merit, taking into account the cumulative grade point average (GPA) of the candidate.
One of the aims of this qualification is to prepare students for research-based postgraduate study. This qualification helps to consolidate and reinforce the student’s knowledge in a particular discipline and to develop their research capacity and skills in this discipline, requiring a high level of theoretical commitment as well as great intellectual independence. In addition, these programs must include a research project in the field of the relevant specialization in the form of a dissertation or a thesis, which will be evaluated objectively.
Another important objective is to have degree programs recognized by the appropriate professional bodies in order to enter the accreditation system more quickly in the disciplines concerned. Another objective is to provide a broad education that equips graduates with knowledge, methodology and skills in a particular discipline that enable them to obtain a license from appropriate professional bodies in order to demonstrate professional responsibility. They must also be able to construct and support arguments and solve problems using ideas and techniques appropriate in a professional context and must also have the ability to use analytical techniques established in this discipline with precision. They must also be able to show initiative, identify situations where support is needed, take additional training and manage their own learning.
Since 2008, UVT has been conducting several technology-related study programs, the design of which has been mainly based on Subject Benchmark Statements (SBS). Developed by the Quality Assurance and Accreditation Council of the University Grants Commission (UGC), these benchmarks recommend five main components such as foundation studies, professional studies, university studies (subject-specific) , electives and internships and field experience. In line with these guidelines, all study programs have already been elevated to four-year honors degrees. For anyone pursuing any of the major technology streams, it is advisable to take a B. Tech (Honours) course. For a more balanced and multidisciplinary approach, it is best to take a B. Tech (General) course for undergraduate studies. The diploma at level 7 is based on the programs prepared in terms of learning outcomes. The credit system used in the Sri Lankan NVQ system for Levels 7 of NVQ is the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS), with the same criteria as for Levels 5 and 6. It is expected that the majority of students enrolled in study programs at UVT will have NVQ qualifications.
The content of the program will be deepened and gradually developed to a high level, which can serve as a basis for professional careers and postgraduate studies. UVT licenses will require a minimum of 180 credits (the equivalent of three years of full-time study). The minimum requirement for passing an honors degree is 240 credits earned after NVQ Level 5.
(The author is acting dean of the faculty of industrial technology and director of the personnel development center of the professional technology university)