Pay 25 lakh, get a degree that’s not valid in India
ANYONE WATCHING? A number of private institutes have collaborated with foreign universities to offer joint degrees not recognised by India’s top educational regulatory bodies
When Sarika (name changed) spent ₹ 25 lakh to complete a BA in fashion design in 2014 from Pearl Academy, little did she realise that the degree certificate she was awarded by the institute in collaboration with Nottingham Trent University (NTU) would not be formally recognised in India. She was made aware of the fact by the export house she was working in. Wanting to lay off staff, her manager showed her a letter from the Association of Indian Universities (AIU); questioning the validity of her degree, and terminated her services.
The AIU, a body which has the mandate to issue equivalence certificates of foreign degrees to match them with degrees awarded by Indian universities, refused to recognise Sarika’s degree as valid and also did not issue an equivalence certificate to her.
“It has been observed from the papers that the candidate has passed her bachelor’s from Nottingham Trent University, UK, from their Indian centre through Pearl Academy, Delhi, in 2014. As per the matter of policy, AIU does not issue Equivalence Certificate for the degrees awarded by foreign universities in India,” reads the AIU letter.
AIU and UGC ( University Grants Commission) norms require institutes to be affiliated to universities or follow Foreign Educational Institution Regulations 2012; many institutes are attracting applicants on the basis of their ‘ international degree’ offers, and charging fees ranging from ₹ 10 lakh to ₹ 25 lakh. Some of the Indian and international institutes’ collaborations include the Indian Institute of Art and Design with Kingston University (London); GD Goenka World Institute with Lancaster University; International Institute of Fashion Design with Istituto Di Moda Burgo (Milan, Italy); Mod’Art India with Mod’Art ( Paris); Lisaa School of Design, Delhi, with Lisaa School of Design (France); Raffles Millennium International, New Delhi, with Raffles (Singapore); IMS Design a nd I nnovation Academy with Pearson Education, UK; Picasso Animation College with Centennial College, Toronto, Canada; among others.
When HT Education sent emails and made phone calls to the Indian institutes and asked for clarity on the regulatory provisions under which they were offering degrees, no one except Pearl Academy responded. Admitting that the degree it offers in collaboration with NTU has no legal approval in India, Pearl Academy, however, claimed that it followed international standards and ensured quality assurance (see story below).
When this correspondent visited Pearl Academy’s training centre in Naraina Industrial Area in Delhi and claimed to be the brother of a girl who wanted to join the institute, the counsellor asked him to pay 60% extra fee and get a recommendation from an export house as all the seats were filled up and admissions could only be done under a special category. When asked if the degree would be valid in any university in India for postgraduation courses, the counsellor said, “These are international degrees. They may not be valid in India but they are valid worldwide. We have been offering these degrees for several years but no one has ever questioned their validity.” I n i t s response t o an RTI application filed by HT’s Jeevan Prakash Sharma, the University Grants Commission had no information to share on approvals for collaborations between Indian and international institutes. Here is the full text of the RTI application and UGC’s response, signed by Mriganka Sekhar Sarma, education officer, and Dharam Vir Yadav, section officer. UGC’s reply: No information is available UGC’s reply: No information is available UGC’s reply: No information is available