Universities seeking twinning programmes with foreign academic institutes now need top accreditation grades and approvals from regulatory agencies.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) recently issued regulations on the collaborations, although the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) had in place provisions for such tie-ups. Through these collaborations universities aim to increase synergy between Indian and foreign academic institutions, improve their curriculum, delivery of knowledge and educational content. Students also get additional choices.
The UGC (Promotion and Maintenance of Standards of Academic Collaboration between Indian and Foreign Educational Institutions) Regulations 2016, say that Indian universities and colleges with the highest grade of accreditation and those conforming to other eligibility conditions laid down in the regulations can apply online to the UGC to start twinning arrangements with foreign educational institutions (FEIs).
AICTE regulations for technical twinning programme require an Indian university department or institution to have a valid National Board of Accreditation (NBA) accreditation for one year beyond April 10, 2017 for the course in which it seeks twinning. No foreign universities and institutions can carry out any educational activity in India to award programmes (diploma, postgraduate diploma, degree, postgraduate degree, postgraduate diploma, doctoral) without specific approval from AICTE.
Foreign universities need accreditation by authorised agencies in their country before they start offering technical courses.
The twinning programmes that offer degree or postgraduate degree, diploma, postgraduate diploma will have the same nomenclature as in their country. Also, there will be no change in the academic curriculum, mode of delivery, pattern of examination, etc.
The courses also need to be recognised in their country. The foreign institution and the Indian partner institution will have to sign a memorandum of understanding to offer twinning courses. Besides, the Indian institution and the concerned affiliating university/board of technical education in the respective states also have to sign MoUs for this purpose. The degree will be awarded by the foreign institution and in its parent country.
According to Anil D Sahasrabudhe, chairman, AICTE, the twinning programmes will help students get exposure to what is being followed globally in the education sector. They will be able to improve their capabilities, become globally competitive and more employable. “Institutions can get the best of the two systems of education, learn lessons, improve the quality of education and get better branding,” he says.
As per the Association of Indian Universities (AIU), educational institutions have to adhere to UGC regulations and/or AICTE guidelines if they want equivalence for foreign degrees awarded for studies undertaken in India.
“One important aspect is wherever such collaboration is done, a student has to spend at least one semester in a foreign institute in case of two-year (four-semester) programme or one year (two semesters) in case of a four-year (eight-semester) programme. This gives excellent first-hand experience of foreign education to students,” says Sahasrabudhe.
In case a twinning programme’s approval is withdrawn or a visa is not granted for a semester/s abroad, the student can be absorbed in the regular curriculum in the Indian university or board and get an Indian degree. In exceptional cases, AICTE will shift the students to other approved institutions in coordination with the state government. The institution in such cases will have to return the entire fee from students to the institutions in which such students are accommodated.
Such foreign institutions will not be allowed to collaborate with any other institution or enter into a collaborative arrangement in India for at least the next three years.