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Panel for recognition of one-year foreign university master’s degree

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The Telegraph | November 28 , 2016 | SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT |  Panel for recognition of one-year master’s  |

New Delhi, Nov. 27: A government-appointed panel has proposed that foreign degrees be granted equivalence in India despite mismatches in course duration and entry-level qualifications. Headed by UGC chairman Ved Prakash, the panel has, however, placed a quality rider – that the foreign university should be accredited and regulated by institutions comparable to those in India, sources said. If the HRD ministry approves the recommendations, the one-year master’s degrees awarded by most institutions in the UK and Australia would be recognised in India. Students with foreign degrees would then be eligible to sit the National Eligibility Test (NET), which has to be cleared for appointment to assistant professor posts in colleges and universities. As of now, the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) grants equivalence only to those degrees that are from recognised foreign institutions and whose course duration and entry-level qualifications are similar to Indian institutions.

The one-year foreign master’s degrees are not recognised in India. At present, nearly 15,000 students are pursuing higher studies in the UK and about 48,000 in Australia. The panel recommendations were placed before HRD minister Prakash Javadekar recently. The ministry has questioned how it would be determined if a foreign accrediting and regulatory agency is qualitatively comparable to that in India. The committee has based its recommendations on a few arguments. It has found that a few thousand Indian students were holders of UK master’s degrees but were not eligible for higher studies or teaching jobs in Indian colleges and universities. The panel also found that the Centre was sending its senior officials for training to foreign institutions. Under the Commonwealth Scholarships implemented by the UGC, Indian students are sent to UK universities to pursue one-year master’s courses.

Moreover, British universities have started accepting certificates issued by Indian school boards after 12 years of schooling as equivalent to their 13-year schooling system. Considering this, the degrees they award should not face equivalence issues, the committee has argued. Joanna Newman, the vice-president and vice-principal (international) of King’s College, London, has welcomed the proposal to grant recognition to one-year master’s degrees. “There is a strong desire on behalf of both UK and Indian universities for greater collaboration and innovation and anything which can help lift current restrictions on both sides should be encouraged,” Newman said in reply to an e-mail query. In her capacity as director, UK Higher Educational Unit, Newman had met HRD ministry officials in 2012. She had then presented the findings of a survey conducted by the National Recognition Information Centre suggesting that the one-year UK master’s degree be considered comparable to the two-year Indian master’s. The study was based on the similarity of qualification outcomes, course duration, course content, progression routes, research requirements, occupational outcomes, assessment method and rigour and quality assurance, Newman said. “I would stress it is the importance of considering the depth of study and key skills attained upon completion – not simply course duration,” she wrote. The AIU secretary general, Furqan Qamar, said: “We follow the existing norms. A committee was constituted to look into the problems faced by individuals holding foreign degrees. The decision of the HRD ministry is awaited.” –  Courtesy


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