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Pathway courses face recognition troubles

Updated norms say such degrees will not be valid in India

November 07, 2015 10:27 pm | Updated November 08, 2015 02:03 am IST - HYDERABAD:

Thousands of Indian students studying in Australia and countries like the United Kingdom and Canada may end up with their degrees not recognised in India if they return to pursue higher courses or take up employment in the government sector.

The updated norms issued by the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) recently on equivalence of foreign qualifications clearly state that a degree attained through a package comprising a diploma at a pathway provider followed by shortened study at the university will not be valid in India. Nearly half of the Indian students in Australia are now in the pathway programmes and they shift to the university after the first year.

Approximately 20,000 Indian students get study visas for Australia and half of them are in the pathway programmes, says Sydney-based Ravilochan Singh, MD of Global Reach. Similarly, 80 per cent of Indian students in Canada join programmes less than the stated duration of AIU. All Masters Programmes in the U.K. are of one year duration and such numbers are also growing in the U.S. Potentially, all these may not be recognised in India, says Mr. Ravilochan, who has been counselling students for over 25 years.

The norms affect quality institutions that operate in the trimester format allowing a three-year degree to be attained by studying for two calendar years. Similarly, a four-year degree can be completed in three years. A two-year Masters can thus be completed in about 18 months. Students save lot of money and also precious time, Mr. Ravilochan argues. Similarly, UK one-year Masters are preferred by Indian students to save one year. They are accepted in most countries except India.

A ray of hope

However, the updated regulations this year offer some hope for students who wish to transfer their credits from one university to another. Degrees obtained thus will be considered valid from this year. Foreign degrees will also be valid if the “university” is recognised in the country where it is located and if the degree follows the duration prescribed by the University Grants Commission (UGC). The UGC norms say a bachelor degree should be for minimum of three years, Engineering for four years and Masters two years.

The credit transfer recognition is the outcome of the third meeting of the Australia-India Ministerial Dialogue on Education Cooperation in India recently where the Universities Australia Chief Executive, Belinda Robinson sought some positive changes. Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani promised to recognise the pathway and foundation courses as well but only the credit transfer issue took fruition.

Students wishing to study abroad say most often these issues are kept in the dark by the representatives of universities who come to recruit students or the local consultancies that guide them on foreign education. “We inform students about the issues of recognition of some courses in India. But most of them don’t come back. Moreover, all those degrees are recognised worldwide where they prefer to seek employment,” counsellor of a popular consultancy explained, seeking anonymity.

Some students said they were unaware of the U.K.’s one-year Master’s course unrecognised in India till they took admission. In fact, there was an effort to treat one-year Masters Courses of the U.K. equal to Indian degrees through a bridge programme. However, it has not taken shape so far.

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