Overseas Education is one of the best investments in terms of time and money for any student. It is not just the academic qualification but also the exposure that aides the future career of an individual. However, Indian Government’s Ministry of HRD and its nominated body, AIU (Association of Indian Universities) have detailed guidelines on what it regards as valid in India for further education or employment purposes.
AIU has issued its AIU updated norms 2015 on equivalence of Foreign qualifications for the purposes of further education and certain employment and this means that the students do need to be aware of the risks of undertaking certain degrees even if the studies are at reputed institutions and fully accredited in the country where it is being delivered.
The 2015 updated regulations is an improvement on the earlier guidelines but continues to fall short on several areas. One improvement is the acceptance of credit transfers and the fact that a degree can be attained through carrying credits from one University to another.
In a nutshell…
- if the “University” is recognized in the country where it is located, then it is deemed acceptable and recognized in India.
- if the “degree” from such an “University” and taking up the duration of UGC regulated Indian degrees, this appears fine.
- if the “degree” from such an “University” is attained by carrying credits from studies undertaken another “University” and taking up a duration of similar UGC regulated degree, this too appears fine as per the AIU and stands recognized as equal to similar degree in India.
then what bothers me still…
- if the “degree” is attained at an ”University” but has been fast-tracked to complete in significantly lesser duration or through studies undertaken over holidays, this may not be considered as a valid degree and will thus not be given equivalence. India will look at the duration of the studies to grant the equivalence.
- This affects a number of quality institutions that operate in trimester format allowing a three year degree to be attained by studying for two calendar year. Similarly a four year degree can be completed in three year. A two year Masters can thus be completed in in about 1.5 years.
- Such institutions are in Australia, UK, USA and possibly in several other countries.
- if the “degree” is attained in a country (such as UK) where Masters are for one year duration, they may not be considered as equal or valid in India.
- I have been lobbying for acceptance of the UK One Year Masters in India since 2012.
- It is not just UK but several Masters in other destinations too that are for duration less than 2 years. Such as France, New Zealand and even a few in US and Australia. Possibly even Canada.
- If the “degree” is attained at an “University” but is attained through a package comprising of a diploma at a pathway provider followed by shortened study at the University, AIU in its updated 2015 guidelines has indicated specifically that it will not be considered as recognized degree.
Pertaining to this last point (recognition of degrees undertaken through a pathway or packaged with a diploma), Universities Australia and Australian Minister for Education engaged with the Indian counterpart in recent months and Universities Australia in its media release indicated last month that…
Speaking at the third meeting of the Australia-India Ministerial Dialogue on Education Cooperation in India, Universities Australia Chief Executive Belinda Robinson said: “It is clear that both countries see education and research as a core component of the strategic partnership and are committed to making progress on a number of key initiatives.
“Particularly, the announcement by the Indian Minister of Human Resource Development, the Hon Smriti Zubin Irani, that the Government will give recognition to pathway/foundation courses is great news for both countries.
“Once Minister Irani’s announcement is implemented, Indian students studying in Australia in pathway programs will have access to the Indian public service and further study at an Indian institution.”
- However, I am of an opinion that there is a mis-understanding somewhere. As per the available information, it seems that while India has been keenly developing an understanding on allowing credit-transfers between recognized Universities, there is very little understanding on giving credits for studies undertaken at vocational diplomas and pathways. I also feel that it is possible that the Indian minister may have only given assurances pertaining to accepting qualifications where studies have been undertaken through a package where all the institutions in the package are “recognized degree granting Universities”.
AIU in its just released 2015 document and on AIU updated norms 2015 state unambiguously that…
As of now, the AIU does NOT accord Equivalence to such degrees offered by the foreign universities where students are admitted through pathway/diploma level institutions
- This affects almost half of the Indian students studying in Australia and if they choose to return to India after their studies, they will not be able to even undertake a Master degree. Forget employment in public/government sector or avenues in academia.
- This also affects a small number of Indian students in UK, USA and Canada. A number of Universities in these countries accept students from the community colleges and other such diploma pathways.
India’s Ministry of HRD and AIU is within its role to grant equivalence to Foreign qualifications and while we can have qualms with some of the decisions, as an adviser to students seeking foreign travel and studies, I would like to issue the following precautionary warning:
- Always consider the validity of the qualification in the Indian context prior to undertaking the qualification.
- A student in Year 12 enrolled in a packaged diploma-degree overseas may not be planning to undertake the Masters in India but they never know the situation in future. Post Study Work and settlement regulations are always changing and it is possible that they have to return to India after the Bachelors and it is also possible that they may decide to undertake the Masters in India. Thus the ability to be able to undertake further studies and employment in India is important.
- Similarly in the AIU guidelines, there is a reference to the requirement of the qualification earned overseas to be of the duration of such a qualification in India. Thus a Bachelor degree should be for minimum of 3 years, Engineering degree must be for 4 years (unlike what is offered in England) and Masters should be for 2 years.
- If a degree is being attained by carrying credits for studies undertaken at another institutions, all the involved institutions should be recognized “Universities”.
While I am issuing this precautionary warning, I am listing a few more cautionary points regarding certain specific occupations:
- Medical Degrees: My advise to all students desiring to become a doctor and practise in India is that they should preferably study the MBBS in India itself. It is a professional requirement to be able to practise as a Doctor in India. The degree has to be recognised by MCI. If the degree is attained overseas (such as in China) be fully aware that the returning degree holder will have to clear a screening test in India which is very difficult to clear and thus the student does not become a doctor at all. There are reports of such “China returned and Russia returned” doctors protesting at Jantar Mantar in Delhi. I strongly advise against wasting your time and resources on such qualifications.
- Law Degrees: My advise to all students desiring to become lawyers and practise in India is that they should ensure that the college of their preference overseas is listed amongst the acceptable law degrees by Bar Council of India. This information is on their website.
- Architecture Degrees: Similar to the advise given to the Law students, the Architecture degree holders should preferably undertake the qualification only from one of the institutions listed as acceptable by the professional body in India.
Following the AIU Updated guidelines, there is a need for Educational Institutions to pre-warn the students and not hide facts solely due to commercial considerations. Most Universities have active marketing and recruitment operations in India and they do undertake advertising and participation in events to educate the students on the offerings at their institutions.
- The Australian (and others too) institutions offering pathway programs, vocational diploma programs and packaged with Universities degrees SHOULD CONSIDER advising the students prior to their commencement of the program that while the final degree may be recognized in the country where it is awarded, it will not be recognized in India. If the student chooses to study with them despite this disclaimer(and they may actually), this is fine.
- The British Council and UK providers actively recruiting students across India for the UK Masters and often referring to the qualification as globally recognized SHOULD CONSIDER pre-warning the students that while the degree saves them money and time, they continue to be un-equal in India. The bridge program that was proposed earlier too has not taken off in reality.
Without the above disclaimers, I do fear that commercial considerations is clouding the ethical judgment and honesty. The student will be within their right to question the role of the institutions in setting up offices in India and undertaking active recruitment for qualifications that are not valid in India at all.
- AIU updated 2015 guidelines on equivalence of foreign qualifications in India can be found on this link – AIU updated norms 2015.
- To understand the concept of pathway led degrees and also diploma to degree packaging, refer to my earlier blog of February 2014 on the following link:
- To understand the issues pertaining to non-equivalence of shorter Masters such as the one from UK, refer to my April 2012 blogs on this link: