Minister Irani has been in controversies over her disputed academic qualifications and false declarations. By continuing to un-recognise shorter UK Master degrees, she can now get back at Rahul Gandhi (to whom she lost in the elections). Rahul earned his MPhil from Cambridge in 1995 and the duration of the same was 1 year.
The BJP Government is reversing the UPA Government’s decision to offer a “Bridge” solution for shorter UK degrees.
The Telegraph reports today (Delhi Tit for Tat)
India is rethinking its commitment to recognise the one-year master’s degrees awarded in Britain because British universities do not universally accept Indian Class XII certificates, sources told The Telegraph.
Education minister Smriti Irani has told high commissioner James David Bevan that all British campuses must start admitting Indian undergraduates on the strength of their Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) certificates, officials said.
During a visit by British Prime Minister David Cameron in February last year, the Manmohan Singh government had agreed to recognise the one-year degrees so their holders could pursue further education or secure government jobs in India.
This was to be done through a bridge course —whose duration was tentatively fixed at six months in November — to be designed by the University Grants Commission (UGC).
However, sources said, the Narendra Modi government is not keen to go ahead with its predecessor’s commitment without a quid pro quo on undergraduate admissions in Britain.
Although several British universities — including Oxford, Warwick and Durham — have of late begun recognising CBSE certificates, some like Cambridge and the London School of Economics are holding out.
I am often accused of being the shadow opposition to Ministry of HRD and have aired my views on the their various reversals to the decisions of UPA’s HRD Minister (even if they were progressive). However this particular topic is very close to my heart and trade and even with the previous regime, I was an active proponent for giving equivalence to well-earned foreign qualifications.
In April 2012, I did a blog titled Shocker: India states that UK Master Degrees as NOT Master equivalent; British Council “helpless”!!!
This was the first piece of writing in the public domain highlighting the issue and was quickly followed up by various newspaper/magazine articles and some of my subsequent blogs. (Please do a Google to see the history of the issue.)
Non-equivalence of the shorter UK (primarily English) degrees both at the Undergraduate (Engineering) and Postgraduate (almost all Masters) means that the students even from leading Universities and after obtaining some of the most sought after degrees were deemed in-valid in India. A linked situation is also of those who undertake the various pathway lead diploma to degrees in UK where the first year of the Bachelors is undertaken within the University but at a pathway provider (often Study Group, Kaplan or Navitas). This means that students who have such qualifications are restricted to work in the family businesses or private sector in India and are only able to undertake the further education with lowly “newly setup” private Universities in India. They are not able to join academia (work as Professors etc…) in India and in some cases, even undertake business ventures such as setting up a petrol pump as that requires a 4 year Engineering Degree.
Several UK returned students took out online petitions (backed by me) and raised the issue with the then Minister for HRD, Mr Shashi Tharoor. Efforts were mobilised even in UK by the Universities and that led to Prime Minister Cameron raising the issue with the Indian Government during his visit.
When the bridging solution was proposed, I had pointed out the shortcomings and had predicted that it will fail. (see link). However, I expected improvements and plugging of the shortcomings and certainly not a full reversal of the proposal altogether and return of the Ministry’s stand that any Masters of less than 2 years will be invalid in India. For it to have greater take-up it would need to be a solution for all returning students with shorter programs and from around the world. I also believe that the differences of systems and new developments in course durations and delivery of such programs need to be better understood on part of AIU.
What I am even more concerned with is that such students and their genuine problem is being ignored and an attempt is being made to negotiate the full equivalence to Indian CBSE Year 12 with the A Level so that CBSE graduating students are able to seek admission in all UK Universities. Once again, the reality is that almost all Universities (barring Cambridge and possibly LSE) are accepting CBSE Year 12 for direct entry already. Further India is not going to recognise the degrees, why is even trying to ask for admission equivalence for Indian Year 12. And in any-case, while India can continue to negotiate, they don’t need to put the issue of equivalence of UK degrees on the bargaining table since it is going to affect over thousands of Indian students who go to UK each year. On the other hand the total number of Indian students who are disqualified from apply to Cambridge of LSE just because their Year 12 was from CBSE is miniscule.
While I don’t’ want to analyse The Telegraph article for its factual accuracy, I do wish to point out two small but important errors:
- The Indian student numbers going out to UK on an annual basis from India is much lower than what has been reported in the article. The data presented is of the “Indian students studying in UK in that year” and not “Indian students who travelled to UK “in” that year”. The actual HESA statistics for Indian students going to UK in each of the year on their first visa of Higher Education is as follows:
Actual HESA downloaded stats is attached 280607_student_sfr197_1213_table_6a-2-1.
- The article mentions that Oxford, Cambridge and LSE offer two year degrees. This is half-correct. LSE has several 1 year Master degrees and those students are also affected. In-fact the petition that was taken out to Ministry last year was by an LSE graduate. Cambridge MPhil degrees that can be the first step to academic career in India are also 1 year long. Hence the students from LSE and Cambridge are also affected.