New Delhi: With the country lagging far behind US and China in research work, the Centre has zeroed in on research universities and vocational education, which will get priority in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-17). Taking it a challenge, Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has geared up preparations in this connection.

“Opening of universities to promote research work would be on the government’s priority in the 12th Five-Year Plan. The blueprint moots for opening of at least 50 research universities by 2020, in which the strength of the students would be maximum five thousand. Such varsities would encourage more research work,” sources said.

Having acknowledged the need of accelerating the pace of making youths skillful, the government intends that vocational students should account for 50 per cent of enrolment in higher education by 2020.

Sources said that out of the total 1.63 crore admissions in higher education in the year 2007-08, only 16 per cent of the students had enrolled for technical and vocational courses in government’s institutions.

The government has set a target to increase this percentage to 50 percent by 2020.  For this, one or two-year associate degree and diploma courses may be started, sources said.

The Ministry has already started working on guidelines for such institutions and a national body could be framed to promote and maintain standards of vocational education in colleges and universities.