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Author Archives: Ravi Lochan Singh

REDUCING COST OF EDUCATION… 10 QUESTIONS FOR THE NaMo GOVERNMENT… (Reproducing Maheshwer Peri’s recent article).

OK, so:

  • When we move a mouse, the world moves;
  • We want to be the worlds supplier for skilled workforce;
  • India can be the skill capital of the world.

Haven’t we heard this before? Many times? Any report on actions to achieve them?

IIMs, IITs, AIIMS, IIS are legacy of the past, handed over by Nehru and TATA. Do you remember any institution created in the last 50 years?

When a country measures its growth rates in roads, bridges, industry, NREGA, infrastructure, defence etc. and treats investments in education and skill building as ‘welfare’, what are the chances of achieving our potential ?

Do you know that the total investment in your child’s education, if s he is getting into schooling now would be Rs.42 million by the time s he finishes PG?

Is it fair? Is it the best that the country can do to educate its youth?

Here are 10 questions that I am asking the government:

  1. If Right to Education is a fundamental right, How come, we are made to pay taxes on our savings made to pay the fees on higher education? The government is not providing for our right but instead burdening us with taxes. To pay a fees of Rs 1 million, our parents have to earn Rs.1.5 million and the government keeps 0.5 million? Fundamental right? Shouldn’t such savings be tax deductible as an expense?
  2. When the real estate industry does not do too well, the entire government gets in to action. Tax breaks, concessions, banking institutions, securities, bonds, everything is put in play. Did you ever see such action when students are unemployed— or unemployable?
  3. You get tax concessions on principal and interest repayments to buy a home. Why not a similar treatment on education fees? Is it because the real estate lobby funds politicians while students are mere voters?
  4. The principle of any good taxation policy is that all expenses spent to earn that income are tax deductible. It is done for calculating income of any business and trade. Why can’t education expenses, which lead to us getting employed and capable of earning that income for life, get deducted from our taxable income? Is it because trade and corporates fund politicians and students are mere voters?
  5. The country has created specialised lending institutions for industry, housing, infrastructure etc. Why not for education to set the rules of the game, give additional thrust and provide direction?
  6. The country has created tax free bonds/securities that bring down the cost of funds for industry/infrastructure etc. Why not for education? Can’t we think of tax- free systematic investment plans (SIPs) that allow parents to save for children’s education?
  7. Why should any one make money on lending for education? Can’t they charge us just the Inter-Bank rate? Can’t government give interest concessions by subsidising some part of the interest? Can’t the interest get indexed to inflation so that there is no real interest but only inflation indexed repayment?
  8. Corporates get a Corporate Debt Restructuring package after they turn sick. Interest- waivers, interest reductions, moratoriums etc. are showered on them. On the other hand, Students are forced at times to get their parents’ homes auctioned when they can’t pay for lack of employment. No interest- waivers, no concessions, not even a discussion. Why the discrimination? The education that promised an occupation failed them, because the economy failed them (just as in the case of corporates), isn’t it? Is it because corporates fund politicians while students are mere voters?
  9. Why can’t we fix the maximum EMI that a student can pay out of his total income? Inability to pay because of low or no income is a good reason. At least s he is not a wilful defaulter. In all other countries, an employee is prohibited from paying beyond a certain percentage of his income against education loan. It protects the student against no/Low income and high EMIs. Don’t students who take loans have the ‘Right to life’?
  10. Right to occupation and Right to Livelihood are in the ‘Directive Principles of State Policy’. Isn’t it better that government empowers its citizens with requisite skills than subsidising them with schemes like NREGA and freebies? Isn’t it better that we provide them a capacity to earn than giving monthly alms?

Would the government listen? Or is it all bluster and speeches of intent with no action on the ground?

Former Outlook publisher Maheshwer Peri now runs the education magazine Careers 360. The above is reproduced from his article found on this link.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Delhi High Court issues its landmark judgement on IIPM… Time for the (pony)tail between the legs for the one who has been “counting his chicken before they hatched”…

For years IIPM offered its fraud degrees across India and used its various “unrecognised” institutions in India and overseas to duck the legal system. Thousands of students have been marketed into buying the so-called degrees that was supposed to be even better than the IIM delivered programs. IIPM used a maze of institutions and challenged every word questioning its legitimacy.

Finally and after tireless pursuit over years, Delhi High Court has handed down the judgement and declared that the degrees offered by IIPM are fraudulent and further, they have been asked to put the judgement on their website and issue an apology. Further, the maze of institutions and their modus operandi too has been commented upon.

The summary of the judgement an be found in the press reports. Quoting from one such below:

A division bench comprising chief justice G. Rohini and justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw restrained IIPM and its management with immediate effect from using the words “MBA, BBA, management course, management school, business school or b-school” in relation to the courses offered by it as well as in representations made to the public. The institute was also “directed to prominently display on the website of IIPM that they are not recognized by any statutory body/authority” and clarify the status of the foreign institutions from which students enrolling in IIPM would be getting a degree or certification. IIPM was given a week’s time to upload and display the court’s judgement prominently on its website to ensure that the attention of anyone visiting the website is drawn to it. The court also imposed costs of Rs.25,000 on IIPM, which has to be paid to Delhi Legal Services Authority. The court noted that IIPM was promoting an impression that it had recognition from a foreign management institute–International Management Institute (IMI), Belgium. The court found that in fact IMI had been set up by Arindam Chaudhuri and his father Malay Chaudhuri and was not even recognized by the laws of Belgium. Calling this arrangement a “maze…to entrap students” the court said that such “advertisements have the potential of misguiding young minds who have a craze for foreign education in the hope it will open doors for international placements/employments and cleverly concealing from them that IMI, Belgium is nothing but an alter ego or another face of IIPM.” The court said that it was a settled position that “no institution should run MBA/Management course, without the approval of the AICTE,” or All India Council for Technical Education. IIPM, lacking such recognition, was not entitled to run or advertise such management courses. (Source: Live Mint )

This is a huge judgement and certainly not the end of the story on IIPM as I am sure that several students who have thus been cheated with may rise to take the “man” to task. If I was one such student, I would now use this judgement and its detailed outlining of the “maze” to claim damages for the fraud committed using marketing hype. Time also for all those who sided with the ponytail to “wake up”. This includes the like of Mr Arnabh Goswami of Times Now who invited him on several of his News Hour debates as a hallowed guest and also to the SRK who lent his credibility to the IIPM. Full Judgement can be studied from this link.

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

▶ Al Jazeera World – Shattered Dreams – Recent report on how “some” agents and “some” colleges operate… Thought provoking…

▶ Al Jazeera World – Shattered Dreams – Video Dailymotion.

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Oh No!!! India is to reverse the earlier decision of a bridging course for UK 1-year Masters. Shorter degrees will remain un-recognised in India. Another messed up “education” decision by Smriti Irani’s Ministry…

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.

Background:

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.

Post Script:

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:
    2008/09: 18480
    2009/10: 18195
    2010/11: 18535
    2011/12: 13250
    2012/13: 10235
    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.
 
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Posted by on September 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Indian Medical Screening tests seem designed to keep Chinese Medicos out…

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Posted by on August 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Despite less Indian students reaching its Universities, UK announces further tightening… WHY?

Mirror Mirror on the wall, Who is the most “unwelcoming” of them all !!!

The answer actually is known to all but the policy makers in the UK seem to be under an illusion that they can continue to “tighten” the policies and still be seen as “welcoming”. Indian student numbers have been falling dramatically over the last few years and if we go by the reports, it could be well below the 10,000 students for 2014. Britain, which briefly in 2010, even became the No.1 destination for Indian students has now moved to No.4 place after the US, Australia and Canada… and may even slide below NZ in the coming year… unless the policy makers think hard and in the right direction.

But this “thinking hard and thinking in right direction” is not going to happen… The policy makers are in a bid to woo voters and it is all politics at play in the UK.

News-reports indicate that after November of this year, UK is pushing with more tightening with the student-visas and institutions with more than 10% visa refusals may be restricted from recruiting in overseas markets. This is actually crazy and defies all logic. At this time the institutions have to aim to encourage even the fence-sitters to consider UK and hence the aim should be to aggressively sell the salient highlights of the British education… But what the policy makers seem to be doing successfully is creating more media noise on how unwelcoming they are going to be in the future.

Data revealed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England shows that the number of Indian students fell from 18,535 in 2010-11 to 13,250 in 2011-12 and further to 10,235 in 2012-13. (source: TOI report… UK set to toughen student visa rules further from Nov )

  • There is no likelihood of the Post-Study-Work being reinstated in UK for overseas students. At-least not in the near future. Subject to the outcome of the Scottish referendum, there is a possibility of Scotland re-introducing a variant of the same in the coming year and the hope is that England/Wales may have to have a similar policy to remain competitive.
  • There is little likelihood of UK changing its degree structures to meet internationally recognised formats. Even the quality Master degrees from quality institutions in UK continue to be for one year, which is a sticky point with its recognition in India (and possibly in some other countries). AIU, India’s peak equivalence granting body, clearly has stated that the less than two year degrees are not-equal. The proposed bridging programs are also non-starters and remain restricted anyways.

Hence, while UK will not grant post-study-work; India will not give post-study-work as it will not award equivalence to the UK degrees such as the Masters…

Now with further tightening being announced and publicised, is UK simply telling students… don’t come near us.

Feeling sorry indeed… for UK and our students… There was just no need for this at this time…

VINASH KALE VIPRIT BUDDHI

 

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

India’s becoming a permanent member of Washington Accord is great news but Minister Irani probably misread that all Engineering degrees will now be at par globally…

After years of effort and several failures, India finally became the 17th member of the exclusive Washington Accord on Friday. It will help create equivalence of engineering degree programmes and allow Indians to practice engineering in other member countries.

The credit for making India a member of Washington Accord goes to many individuals who worked behind the scenes for years. Among them are Raman Menon Unnikrishnan of California State University, Fullerton, who pleaded India’s case along with former National Board of Accreditation (NBA) member secretary Dinesh K Paliwal and education secretary Ashok Thakur.

Paliwal was responsible for organizing the World Summit on Accreditation in 2012 that was used for backroom diplomacy to allay fears about the Indian system. The process of accreditation had started during late Arjun Singh’s tenure as HRD minister. During Kapil Sibal’s time, India was made a temporary member. In January, a comprehensive audit of NBA was undertaken by the Washington Accord team.

Washington Accord will, however, not be valid for IT engineers. India will have to sign the Seoul Accord to create similar equivalence of programmes. Becoming part of Washington Accord also does not necessarily mean that all engineering degrees by all Indian colleges will get equivalence with those of other member countries. NBA has shortlisted 220-odd engineering colleges as Tier-I institutes whose undergraduate engineering programme is in tune with what is required under the Accord.

But even Tier-I institutes which include IITs/NITs/BITS Pilani besides many autonomous and deemed universities will now have to apply afresh to NBA and only after extensive verification of their programmes will they be declared fit to be part of Washington Accord institutions. A massive redesigning of course will take place with emphasis on outcomes and letting students explore and innovate.

For the crowded list of Tier-II institutions, NBA has given a roadmap so that they are well prepared to become members of Washington Accord. NBA has asked universities to allow affiliated engineering colleges to design at least 50% of the course. For instance, Washington Accord lays emphasis on teaching social sciences along with engineering.

“Engineers should have knowledge of the environment so that they know how their work is going to have an impact on the ecosystem. They also need understanding of society, management and communication skills,” an HRD ministry official said.

Source for the above is an article from Times of India (see link)

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

 
 
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