Early last year when I blogged on the issue of validity of the 1 year Masters degrees, I did that to seek an equivalence and rectify the situation. I am laying claim at the fact that it was this blog that was the first piece on the issue in public domain. (https://ravilochansingh.com/2012/04/17/shocker-india-states-that-uk-master-degrees-as-not-master-equivalent-british-council-helpless/)
What followed was a series of articles in newspapers and magazines, a series of submissions and petitions by students, intensified lobbying by the UK Government bodies including prioritising of the issue by the British PM. (https://ravilochansingh.com/2012/07/19/one-year-overseas-masters-validity-in-india-issue-not-just-for-uk-to-resolve/)
However what we have now as a solution is still half-baked measure. It is aimed at satisfying the lobbyists that some action has been taken though it is not really a solution. It is also too narrow in focus.
The New Indian Express reports in an article:
The recent announcement of the Human Resource Development Ministry to introduce a six-month bridge course for those who completed one-year post-graduate courses in the UK has received sharp reactions from students and experts.
While some were of the opinion that efforts were finally being made to recognise their degrees here, most others felt that they were unfairly being made to wait for an additional six months before they can take the next step in their career.
Many students who have completed their PG degrees in the UK feel this move would pose an unnecessary hurdle, resulting in time being wasted in proving the validity of their degree.
First the facts:
- UK tends to structure all its Master degrees as less than two years in duration. Often of 1 year only.
- AIU, which is the body to grant equivalence has deemed that all Masters that are of less than 2 years and possibly all Bachelors that are of lesser duration to what is offered in India, are deemed unequal or not valid as a degree.
- If a student is returning after completing a less than equal degree he is only faced with an issue if he is applying for a job that asks for an equivalence certificate. Often in academia or in government jobs. This is when the equivalence gets denied and the student believes that the promotion of the less than equal degree as a globally recognised and respected qualification is only a half-truth in the Indian context.
Now the solution offered by the Indian Government:
- They say that the degree that is of less duration is still not equal to and Indian degree and hence will not be considered as a degree.
- Hence a student wanting to make it equal will have to study for a bridging program in India for six months or so and then will only be able to claim to have reached the Masters level.
- No solution yet offered for non-Humanities students.
- No solution yet offered for the 3 year British Engineering graduates.
- The solution for the British MBA is even more bizarre where the returning student can apply for equivalence after working in India for six months.
- First they say it is not equal and then expect them to get a job as an unequal degree and for the very first time I am hearing that work experience is going to count towards academic assessment of a degree in India.
- No solution offered for degrees that are done at two locations in parts.
It seems to me that UK has agreed to this solution and has put an end to the lobbying. All have gone back home safely and satisfied and appear to be not complaining any further.
The Telegraph has been reporting and pursuing the issue ever since I first did the blog and in a recent article it confirms…
The matter was discussed during the visit of Cameron earlier this year, and both countries agreed to the bridge course mechanism. The ministry then asked the UGC to suggest modalities for the course.
The Association of Indian Universities, the agency that gives equivalence to foreign degrees, has accepted the UGC formula.
I find this unacceptable since this in other ways is an acceptance by the British authorities that…
- Their degrees are inferior to Indian degrees.
- Their appeal to Indian students to study in UK since it offers a recognised degree is misplaced.
- And this could become the beginning of dumbing down of the UK degree by other countries that will look at how India has judged the qualification and how Britain has accepted the same.
- Or it could be a time for UK to do introspection and increase the duration of the degrees in line with the trend around the world.
What would I have done if I was the one negotiating from the British end:
- I would have stuck to the ground that the British degree is differently structured and is accepted as a Masters by several countries around the world where the Masters are generally of two year duration.
- I would have insisted that the load of the program is high and there are pre-requisites that are also applied.
- I would have insisted that if the system works for other countries then why not for India.
- I would have insisted that UK has had issues with quality of output of some of the Indian Universities and has not disadvantaged those students.
- I would have brought into focus that it is not just Indian students studying in UK that are affected but also the fact that Masters in NZ is differently structured too and though Australia is gradually offering only two year Masters, it has had students with lesser than two year Masters too. US which traditionally offered two years Masters has in recent times been offering less than two year degrees.
- I would have insisted that the world is now more and more global and there is a need for growing mutual recognition of degrees.
- I would have insisted that UK and India should have an MOU on the lines that India has with other countries for mutual recognition of the degrees.
At this time, some students desperate for a job in India with the government or to pursue PhD in India will have this new option of the bridging course but over a period of time this bridge course is bound to fail and there will be hardly any interest. A student who wants to study overseas will not want to have spent money on something that will require him to come back and then do a further study just to make their qualification equal, if their intention is to work with the Government or work as lecturers or professors in Indian Universities.
This brings me to the thought that what India has decided as an option for UK degrees is simply because UK lobbied. It should have just made it an option for all the less than two year degrees from around the world and then it would have had more takers. The once it has no takers, the program will be dropped and momentum lost but UK degrees will then remain branded as inferior in content to the Indian degrees. Which is far from the truth, as we all know…
In summary, I believe that both India and UK have only played to the galleries and agreed at something that is just not acceptable and that has hardly any future.