Even as China and India hit another icy patch in their stormy relations, there is great news headed towards thousands of Indian students in China. They may soon no longer need to worry about the legitimacy of their degrees on returning home. A long-awaited pact between the two countries is on the verge of being signed.
India and China will treat each other's degrees as equivalent under the agreement, which Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal is set to take up with his Chinese counterpart next month, top government sources told HT.
Sibal will visit China from September 10 to 16, before heading to the US on September 21, the sources said. He will attend the World Economic Forum in Tianjin between September 13 and 16.
The mutual recognition agreement with China — which the sources said is almost ready for signing — will, however, not cover medicine and pharmacy programmes, they added.
China has emerged as a major higher education destination for Indians over the past six years.
Firms that help students apply for studies abroad estimate over 7,000 Indians are pursuing higher education programmes in China. Medicine is the most popular field for Indians there but many are also studying engineering and the humanities — especially languages.
World-class facilities combined with fees much lower than in the West or Australia are attributed as the main reasons for China's rise as an education hub for Indians.
However, unlike most programmes in the US, UK and Australia, Chinese courses are not recognised here. This has left several students in the lurch on returning home. They are unable to apply for higher studies and their degrees are not treated at par with Indian qualifications when they seek jobs.
India and China had in 2006 signed an agreement for cooperation in education. But that pact was just restricted to exchange programmes.