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)