Is your for­eign de­gree valid in In­dia?

SAFETY CHECK Be care­ful while se­lect­ing de­gree cour­ses abroad which are of shorter du­ra­tion than the ones in In­dia or are in dis­tance learn­ing mode

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - HT Education - - Front Page - Gauri Kohli

Do you do your due dili­gence be­fore se­lect­ing a pro­gramme or in­sti­tu­tion abroad for higher stud­ies, es­pe­cially in the UK, Aus­tralia, West Europe, China or Rus­sia? If not, then you must start the process now to check if your qual­i­fi­ca­tion or course would be given the equiv­a­lence (con­sid­ered at par with a course) in In­dia for higher stud­ies, pro­fes­sional prac­tice and jobs.

Though t he As­so­ci­a­tion of In­dian Univer­si­ties (AIU), which grants equiv­a­lence to t hese cour­ses, had re­laxed cer­tain norms on recog­ni­tion of cer­tain for­eign univer­sity qual­i­fi­ca­tions a few months ago, some cour­ses are still not treated with par­ity in In­dia.

For in­stance, stu­dents get­ting de­grees from for­eign univer­si­ties for pro­grammes of a shorter du­ra­tion than sim­i­lar pro­grammes in In­dia will find it eas­ier to get equiv­a­lence and recog­ni­tion in In­dia. How­ever, de­grees for medicine and law get equiv­a­lence only f rom pro­fes­sional bod­ies.

Till mid-2015, pro­grammes in for­eign in­sti­tu­tions were re­quired to be com­pleted in full-time reg­u­lar mode as those of In­dian univer­si­ties as per AIU rules. Just like in In­dia, t he du­ra­tion of bach­e­lor’s pro­grammes in the for­eign univer­sity had to be of three years and mas­ter’s cour­ses of two years.

A num­ber of for­eign univer­si­ties al­low stu­dents to com­plete their post­grad­u­ate de­gree quickly ( com­pared to In­dian in­sti­tutes) as ac­cep­tance of cred­its and credit trans­fer is com­mon in a num­ber of for­eign and In­dian univer­si­ties. Th­ese cour­ses were not given equiv­a­lence in In­dia, but the AIU later changed its pol­icy to ac­commo- date pro­grammes short­ened on ac­count of cred­its ac­cepted by for­eign univer­si­ties.

“While AIU does not re­lax the re­quire­ments of the min­i­mum du­ra­tion of de­grees, the du­ra­tion in­stead is mea­sured in terms of pre­cise num­ber of months/years and com­ple­tion of the num­ber of semesters/trimesters. Pro­fes­sional de­grees awarded by for­eign univer­si­ties which also en­ti­tle the stu­dent to prac­tice a pro­fes­sion in In­dia in dis­ci­plines such as medicine, nurs­ing, phar­macy, law and ar­chi­tec­ture are given equiv­a­lence by the re­spec­tive pro­fes­sional coun­cils,” says an AIU of­fi­cial.

Ini­tially, equiv­a­lence was ac­corded by t he AIU on a course to course ba­sis only af­ter the pro­posal for equiv­a­lence of for­eign qual­i­fi­ca­tion was re­ceived from an In­dian mis­sion abroad or from the univer­sity con­cerned, adds the of­fi­cial.

Other prob­lem ar­eas that need t o be a ddressed a r e vo­ca­tional de­grees and non­de­gree qual­i­fi­ca­tions such as pro­fi­ciency, cer­tifi­cate or diploma- l evel ex­am­i­na­tion con­ducted ei­ther by univer­si­ties or by non-univer­sity level bod­ies which are not given equiv­a­lence.

Two-year (fast track) de­grees awarded by for­eign ac­cred­ited univer­si­ties are also not recog­nised.

De­grees granted for cour­ses pur­sued on off­shore cam­puses of for­eign univer­si­ties are only valid in In­dia if the off­shore cam­pus is duly ap­proved by the com­pe­tent au­thor­i­ties in that coun­try.

For­eign de­grees awarded to stu­dents through path­way or diploma-level in­sti­tu­tions are not given recog­ni­tion as well by the AIU.

Open dis­tance l ear ning, on­line de­grees and those in the vir­tual mode from for­eign in­sti­tu­tions are also not treated equally. Ex­perts say that though the changed norms of grant­ing equiv­a­lence for de­grees from se­lect aca­demic in­sti­tutes have helped stu­dents, there is still need for an im­proved pol­icy on this. “A com­mit­tee had been set up to look into some of is­sues of equiv­a­lence of de­grees by the hu­man re­source de­vel­op­ment min­istry,” says Pro­fes­sor Furqan Qa­mar, sec­re­tary gen­eral, AIU and mem­ber sec­re­tary of the com­mit­tee.

Ac­cord­ing to Rahul Choudaha, prin­ci­pal re­searcher at DrE­d­u­ca­tion, a US-based global higher education re­search firm, “It is very crit­i­cal to un­der­stand the im­pli­ca­tions of the trend of in­creas­ing stu­dent mo­bil­ity to for­eign in­sti­tu­tions on the recog­ni­tion of de­grees so that In­dian stu­dents do not end up wast­ing their in­vest­ments or spoil­ing their ca­reers. The ef­forts from the govern­ment in up­dat­ing the poli­cies to make them stu­dent-friendly and rel­e­vant to the ex­ter­nal changes in in­ter­na­tional higher education is in the right di­rec­tion. How­ever, lot more needs to be done to in­crease the pace of im­ple­men­ta­tion and dis­sem­i­na­tion of in­for­ma­tion to stu­dents.”

The Unesco prin­ci­ples of recog­ni­tion of qual­i­fi­ca­tions also ask for “the de­vel­op­ment of trans­par­ent, co­her­ent and re­li­able pro­ce­dures and grant­ing recog­ni­tion un­less sub­stan­tial dif­fer­ences are iden­ti­fied,” he adds. Th­ese global prin­ci­ples are crit­i­cal for un­der­stand­ing the im­por­tance of recog­ni­tion as a tool for en­hanc­ing mo­bil­ity and not cre­at­ing bar­ri­ers. “For ex­am­ple, on­line and dis­tance learn­ing cour­ses are not yet recog­nised while the de­mand from stu­dent side is grow­ing at a clip­ping rate. Also, nearly 40,000 In­dian stu­dents are en­rolled in UK higher education in­sti­tu­tions. A ma­jor­ity of them are pur­su­ing one-year mas­ter’s de­grees. The chal­lenges of de­gree recog­ni­tion have been most se­vere for stu­dents who come back to In­dia and go for higher stud­ies or govern­ment jobs. While the rider for bridge course had been pro­posed, not much has pro­gressed in terms of con­crete plan,” he says.

How­ever, de­spite the AIU giv­ing equiv­a­lence, there are other chal­lenges. The AIU pol­icy for grant­ing equiv­a­lence to such for­eign de­grees that have been awarded for stud­ies un­der­taken in In­dia, re­quires the ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tion to ad­here to the UGC regulation or the AICTE guide­lines. “Each univer­sity is au­ton­o­mous in de­cid­ing its own cri­te­ria of equiv­a­lence. AIU guide­lines are not manda­tory un­less equally en­dorsed by the UGC,” says Prof BB Bhat­tacharya, for­mer vice chan­cel­lor, Jawa­har­lal Nehru Univer­sity.

– Gauri Kohli

I LLUSTRATION: AB­HI­MANYU SINHA

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