Indian universities and colleges will be allowed to collaborate with foreign institutions but they must let students study abroad for at least one semester of their postgraduate course and two semesters for an undergraduate degree.
These are part of changed guidelines of the University Grants Commission (UGC), which are viewed as the government’s push to broaden the scope and quality of education in the country as well as encourage healthy competition.
Union human resource development minister Smriti Irani announced on Wednesday the changes made by the country’s higher education regulator.
“This step has been taken … to increase synergy between Indian and foreign academic institutions to offer students additional choices, improve curriculum and the delivery of knowledge and educational content,” she said.
The degree from such a twinning arrangement will be issued by the Indian institution but the certificate will mention the name of the foreign institute, Irani said. A joint degree is still not permitted in India.
Previous rules barred Indian institutions from directly applying for a tie-up with a foreign university. But foreign institutes from abroad could seek permission from the UGC for academic collaborations.
The rule fell flat as no foreign institute ever approached the UGC for such tie-ups. Also, there was no provision for students to study abroad for a few semesters.
The amended rules will allow Indian institutions to apply online on the UGC website for collaborations with foreign universities to offer undergraduate and postgraduate courses. The regulations don’t cover technical institutions, though.
The students will have to bear the expenses for their semesters abroad, which again could be much cheaper than doing the entire course in a foreign country. Students from foreign institutions can also come to Indian campuses.
A one-year window has been given to institutes that already have global partnerships to get their pacts approved by the UGC, the minister said. A committee of experts will examine the proposals.
Irani cautioned institutes fraudulently advertising collaborations with foreign institutions. “It has been decided that the UGC will approach state governments for action in such cases,” she said.
The changed norms could weed out the growing number of institutes offering bogus foreign degrees and certificates to hundreds of unsuspecting students each year.