Make sure your dreams of studying in a foreign country are backed by a due verification process.

Indian students aspiring to travel abroad for higher education need to learn a few lessons from the recent happenings at London Metropolitan University, and California-based Tri Valley University last year.

First, the necessity to ascertain the quality of the institution one is seeking admission into and, second, the importance of strict adherence to rules and regulations. Any violation of regulations of the host country or educational institution can land anyone in trouble — the violators themselves as well as the innocent who often end up paying the price for the deeds of others.

Without getting into the debate over the controversial decision of the British government to ban London Metropolitan University (LMU) from teaching non-European Union foreign students fearing they were potential immigrants, the facts remains that it has impacted over 300 Indian students. And if news reports are to be believed, families of several Indian students have sold off their land and properties to send their children to study in Britain.

“We have taken up the issue with the U.K. government through our High Commission to accommodate Indian students,’’ Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal told The Hindu. “However, when students apply to universities abroad they must exercise diligence about the quality of the institution they are seeking admission to,’’ he said.

While there is no single-window system in India to get information about the educational institutions abroad at present, the Ministry of Human Resource Development is in the process of developing a website where relevant details would be available at the click of a button. The website, being prepared by EdCIL and the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), has been in the process of preparation since the Tri Valley episode last year but has got stuck due to some administrative hiccups.

But until the website is in place, there are several agencies that do provide the information required about foreign universities.

Interface

International cooperation constitutes a major activity of Association of Indian Universities (AIU) based in New Delhi. To name a few, Canada, Australia, Scotland, France, Taiwan, Mauritius are some of the major countries with which AIU has a strong interface. The Association has facilitated interaction of Indian universities with their counterparts abroad by creating an umbrella arrangement with major countries known for excellence in education and research. The Association serves as an inter-university organisation and acts as a bureau of information. In addition it coordinates mutual consultation among universities and liaisons between the universities (national or international) and the government in matters of common interest. Importantly, it acts as a representative of universities in India and assists universities in obtaining recognition for their degrees, diplomas and examinations from other universities, Indian as well as foreign.

The AIU keeps a close eye on the international scenario of higher education and maintains strong networking with international organisations to cope with the changing scenario. The AIU is a member of different important international organisations and represents them in different capacities including International Association of Universities, Paris University Mobility in Indian Ocean Region, (UMIOR), Global University Network for Innovation, Cataluna, Spain (GUNI), National Association of Foreign Student Advisers (NAFSA), International University Sports Federation (FISU), Asian University Sports Federations (AUSF).

The secretary general of AIU is one of the four members monitoring committee of India - EU Study Centers Programme. The Association has signed Memorandums of Understanding for mutual cooperation in various areas of higher education with Australian Vice Chancellors’ Committee (AVCC), renamed as Universities Australia, Institute of International Education (IIE) New York, Indo French Consortium of Universities (IFCU), Association of Universities in Netherlands (VSNU), (Copenhagen), Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada (AUCC), Foundation for International Cooperation in Higher Education (FICHET), Taiwan, BRAC University, Bangladesh, Universities Scotland and the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), Mauritius.

Mobility

The U.K. India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) develops policies and framework to support mutual recognition and equivalence of learning and achievement between India and the U.K. It helps in creating opportunities for student mobility between the two countries and works for development of joint doctoral and master’s programmes.

Since its establishment five years ago, UKIERI has played a pivotal role in establishing a step change in the educational relations between the two countries. The strand aims to foster mobility of students across India and the U.K. and to work on key areas like mutual recognition of qualifications and credit transferability. Institutional tie-ups to support study tours, summer programmes and other short visit opportunities with special emphasis on India’s heritage and culture are also being structured in the programme delivery.

UKIERI is working towards the transferability and equivalence of qualifications through recognition of learning and achievements. It will also highlight key issues and challenges faced by the education sector in both countries pertaining to mutual recognition and equivalence of learning and achievement, and make recommendations through UKIERI framework for mutual recognition.

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All is wellSeptember 10, 2012