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Indian, foreign universities can now offer dual degrees

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APRIL 19, 2022

The Commission on Tuesday approved UGC (Academic Collaboration between Indian and Foreign Higher Educational Institutions to offer Twinning, Joint Degree and Dual Degree Programmes) Regulations, 2022. These regulations lay down the minimum standards for academic collaboration between Indian and foreign colleges. (Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)

New Delhi:The University Grants Commission (UGC) on Tuesday allowed academic collaboration between the Indian and foreign colleges in a move that will make it easier for Indian students to study in foreign universities, even earn a degree from one, and vice versa.

Regulations allowing some of these provisions were first announced in 2012, and subsequently modified in 2016, but with few takers among either Indian or foreign universities, have been eased further now. This, however, is the first time joint degrees are being permitted.

The regulations allow three types of degree programmes: dual (where both colleges award the degree, albeit in the same subject), joint and twinning (where part of the course is completed overseas with the upper limit being 30% in twinning programmes, and the lower limit being 30% in joint programmes) .

Rajesh Jha, professor at Delhi University, raised concern over the possibility of such collaborations making education expensive, and affecting the existing reservation policies of the education. “These kind of collaborations can be misused by the private higher education institutions in the name of foreign educations. The UGC has to come up with some strict guidelines. What about the reservation policy? If the admission of foreign students will be done on existing seats or over an above. There should be some clarity on this as well. In fact, the UGC needs to focus on strengthening the existing education system in Indian rather than collaborating with foreign universities,” he said.

The Commission on Tuesday approved UGC (Academic Collaboration between Indian and Foreign Higher Educational Institutions to offer Twinning, Joint Degree and Dual Degree Programmes) Regulations, 2022. These regulations lay down the minimum standards for academic collaboration between Indian and foreign colleges.

UGC Chairperson M Jagadesh Kumar said that the proposal for regulations for such collaboration was first mentioned in last year’s union budget. “After that a committee was formed and a draft regulations were put up for public feedback in February 2021. The feedback was considered and then finished. Those regulations have been approved in the UGC meeting on Tuesday,” he said, adding that the regulations are in tune with the vision of National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.

The programmes can be offered from undergraduate to PhD level, Kumar said. The regulations are likely to come into effect from 2022-23 onwards.

To be eligible to offer such programmes an Indian college must have a minimum National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) score of 3.01 or figure in the top 100 in university category of National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) or in the top 1000 of Times Higher Education or QS World University ranking.

Similarly, foreign colleges wishing to participate should figure in the top 1000 of Times Higher Education or QS World University ranking. The two colleges will have to enter into a written Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) or agreement. In 2012 and 2016, the partnership was restricted to colleges in the top 500 of global rankings.

“This has been expanded to give opportunities to more foreign higher education institutions to collaborate with Indian Institutions. There are institutions which are doing well irrespective of their rankings. Therefore, the expansion will help providing more options to Indian universities for collaboration,” Kumar said.

According to the final draft of regulations, a copy of which has been seen by HT, under the twinning programme, students enrolled with an Indian university will be allowed to complete their programme partly in the foreign university. “Credits earned by the students at a foreign higher educational institution shall be counted towards the degree awarded by the Indian higher educational institution. However, credits earned by the student from the foreign institution shall not exceed 30% of the total credits required for the programme,” the draft said.

“Credits have to be earned after attending offline classes only. The degree offered under such twinning programmes shall be awarded by the Indian university only. Each institution shall issue a transcript for their respective courses, with a remark indicating that the student has taken certain modules at the partner institution, wherever,” it added.

In the case of the joint programme, the students will have to earn at least 30% of the total credits from each collaborating institution in conventional or physical mode. “For a Joint Degree programme, the curriculum shall be designed jointly by the collaborating Indian and foreign institutions and, upon completion of the programme, the Degree is awarded by the Indian higher educational institution and the collaborating Foreign institution with a single Certificate,” the draft said.

The only difference between these two is the time spent overseas.

In the case of a dual degree programme, the students must earn at least 30% of the total credits from the Indian institution. The credit earned for the course(s) in an institution will be counted towards degrees to be awarded by both the institutions. In this case, the degrees shall be conferred by the Indian and foreign institutions, separately and simultaneously, upon completion of degree requirements of both the institutions. “This shall not in any way be construed as two degree programmes in separate disciplines/subject areas and/or levels being pursued simultaneously,” the draft added.

For both dual and joint degree programmes, the UGC has asked the collaborating institutions to ensure that the credits earned by the students are not from overlapping course content/curriculum.

In case of a doctoral degree or PhD programme, students will be provided supervision at each institution, and they will have to spend a minimum of one semester in each of them.

The regulations make it mandatory for the collaborating institutions to make provisions for exit pathways for students who are unable to complete requirements in the three programmes.

Elaborating on the admission criteria, Kumar said that the students have to meet the existing criteria of both the collaborating institutions. “It is absolutely voluntary for the Indian universities to get into any such collaboration. The regulations advised the collaborating institutions to keep reasonable fee structures so as to make quality higher education accessible and affordable to all sections of the society,” he said.

Kumar said that the universities will have to get these programmes approved from their statutory bodies and inform UGC about the MoUs signed between them and their foreign partners.

Explaining the significance of the regulations, Kumar said that the new regulations make it easier for eligible institutions to partner without prior approval from UGC. “Earlier, if the two institutions had to collaborate they had to go through a long approval process; UGC has eased the process. Besides, under these regulations the collaborating universities will now be allowed to offer joint degrees, something that was not allowed previously,” he said.


Courtesy/Source: Hindustan Times

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