UK degree equivalence issue in India; New Bridge course solution & why it is still a half measure… one destined to fail.

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:

  1. UK tends to structure all its Master degrees as less than two years in duration. Often of 1 year only.
  2. 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.
  3. 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…

  1. Their degrees are inferior to Indian degrees.
  2. Their appeal to Indian students to study in UK since it offers a recognised degree is misplaced.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. I would have insisted that the load of the program is high and there are pre-requisites that are also applied.
  3. I would have insisted that if the system works for other countries then why not for India.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. I would have insisted that the world is now more and more global and there is a need for growing mutual recognition of degrees.
  7. 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.

41 Comments

  1. Your concern is valid. UK degrees will suffer. Mutual agreement by UK and India is required.

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    1. yes Ani you are right .large number of students studied engineering courses . i think most indian politician studied humanities in uk thats why UGC take action only for them

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  2. I done my MSc In Advanced Comp. Science from Uni of Leicester. Now i am working as Asst. Prof in engg. college in . Is there any solution for me to join bridge course and then started my PHD in india?

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  3. I done my MSc In Advanced Comp. Science from University of Leicester. Now i am working as Asst. Prof in college. Is there any solution for me to join bridge course in Tamil nadu and then started my PHD in india?

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  4. Dear Ravi,
    I done my B.Sc., Computer Science(3 years) in Bharathiyar Univ, After that, I done my MSc In Advanced Comp. Science from University of Leicester. Is there any solution for me to join bridge course? Did I comes under Humanities?

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  5. What really amuses me is that the Ministry of Human Resource Development of the Indian Goverment is still providing scholarships for Indian Students to study in the UK; why is it doing this still if this issue is unresolved? Also what is India’s take on students who have done their Masters degree in Agriculture in the UK…does that fall under Humanities section as well?

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    1. Interesting but a reality. Not just this but Indian banks also issue forex and education loans for such degrees. So fairly contradictory. Regarding whether Agriculture will be under Humanities, you would need to write to AIU. My understanding is that the whole concept of bridging program has been withdrawn or will be withdrawn by the current HRD Minister… I guess she will need to understand what a degree is.

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  6. Your site is the only one that seems to discuss this issue so though the focus of the article is on Masters I would like to enquire if a bachelor degree from a UK university is recognised by the Indian government and Universities. If I were to apply for a Probationary Officers exam in India would a UK Bsc economics be eligible

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    1. If you are doing the full Bachelors in UK at the same University and the duration is same as that in India, it should be fine. Sometimes we study a degree at an English University that is of shorter duration (such as Engineering which is for 3 years in UK as compared to 4 years in India) or if we do the degree in a diploma leading to degree format… this is not suitable for your goals.

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  7. Sir ur concern is valid and potrayed correctly. I was also asked by AIU to do a one year degree from any recognised university as I had successfully completed 1year masters in marketing from Manchester University. I found the course very useless. But it seems we are still helpless

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  8. I have done engineering from UK which is 3 years. I came to know that there is an option of giving an exam at AMIE Section A and B which is of 8 subjects each for 12th standard and a few years of experience for an engineering equivalent. At the same time, the same exams with 4 subjects each would make and Indian Bse equivalent to Engineering.

    I applied to AIU to check my degree equivalence for giving these exams but they replied that it not equivalent to engineering rather than telling me if it is equal to a Bse at least to make a decision to give exams AMIE.

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    1. I am not sure of the AMIE etc and so will not be able to comment. If AIU has replied to you that your British Engineering degree of 3 years is not valid or equivalent in India, this is it.

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      1. Thanks for your reply sir. Not being equivalent to Indian engineering is fine but, will the British engineering will at least be equal to a Bse level? That is what I want to know.

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          1. No, they did not give Bse equivalent. They just replied stating ‘ my degree is not an engineering equivalent’ I’ve been writing to them for a year now. They did give any solution instead they’ve asked me to wait until a decision is made. Now it’s been 1 full year I’ve waited.

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  9. Greetings
    Dear Sir
    You mentioned 6 months bridge course. I completed MSc. in Applied Psychology (Clinical & Health) from University of Worcester. After coming to India I completed 6 months diploma in child and adolescent psychology. Now I am pursuing MA in Counselling Psychology. Kindly let me know still I have to do brigde course for recognition as I already completed 6 months diploma? Kindly let me know
    Thanking you
    Akshaya Shivaji Dhuri

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  10. Dear Ravi Lochan Singh,
    Please help me with information on Universities in India to pursue PhD with my M.Sc (Engg) with distinction (Part time 3 years) from Coventry University UK (classes conducted at MS Ramaiah School of Advanced Studies Bangalore. I am aged 54 and my basic qualifications are 11 years SSLC (1978) + 3 years Diploma in Mech. Engg (1981) + 3 years M.Sc Engg Machinery Design (2015) & 33 years experience in research area + 2 patents+ more than 20 tech paper publications + awards in the field

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  11. Hi Ravi,

    I’m doing my Msc in Corporate Governance n Accountability in University of Glasgow.

    As per above discussion, Universities of Scotland is said be collaborated with AIU (India) and Univ of Glasgow is one among them.

    1.Will my degree would be considered in India for Employment and Further Research ?
    2.If i need to pursue with the Bridge Course, where and whom should i address to?

    Thanks in Advance,
    Arunkumar

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  12. Hi.. I have done masters from QMUL which is also not equivalent to Indian masters due to short duration. And I found nothing regarding the bridge course in Polymer Science. How can I get the information regarding it since nobody is receiving the call in University grants commission as suggested by AIU?

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  13. Mutual recognition with International degrees degrees. Well first thing India needs is to make their own Universities to respect and recognize each others degrees and that is, degrees of Indian Universities.

    Indian Universities are all completely filled with politicians and Union leaders (also called teachers). They do not recognize even degrees from another University from another state (in some cases even degrees from another University in the same state) in India itself.

    The first thing to do is to make sure All Universities in India must recognize each others degrees. When they refuse to do so, What hope does someone learning in a foreign country has.? This AIU and all are simply talk shops. I have found out that no section clerk in any University of India gives a damn about U.G.C/AICTE and AIU etc..

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