Foreign degrees in Indian institutions may require equivalence, say educators

UGC Act permits only institutions legislated by the State and Centre, and deemed varsities, to offer degrees

November 13, 2023 07:52 pm | Updated 09:00 pm IST - CHENNAI 

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has gazetted the regulations for foreign universities that plan to set up campuses in India. The guidelines on the internationalisation of higher education were notified in 2021.  

However, many educators wonder if the degrees offered by the foreign universities will be accepted by the UGC, and how the commission will proceed with the issue of equivalence for the degrees offered by the foreign institutions.  

The UGC’s 2021 regulations permit foreign universities to collaborate with Indian higher educational institutions to offer twinning, joint, and dual degree programmes. The regulation further states that qualifications awarded under the regulations “shall be equivalent to any corresponding degree awarded by the Indian Higher Educational Institution for all purposes, including higher education and employment”. 

The regulations, gazetted on November 8, stipulate that “there shall be no further requirement of seeking equivalence from any authority and the degree shall have all benefits, rights and privileges as obtained in the case of a degree awarded by an Indian higher education institution ordinarily”.   

Educators in private universities wonder how the regulation has been introduced when the UGC Act makes no such provision. “Through its regulations, the Ministry of Education is trying to allow the entry of foreign institutions,” a senior educator said.

Also Read: UGC announces regulations for establishment and operation of campuses by foreign universities in India

The UGC Act, 1956 has given permission to offer degrees to only those institutions that have been constituted by the State Legislatures or the Parliament, or those that have been deemed to be universities. 

The Act states the regulations for minimum standards of instruction of the UGC Act 1956 (and later in 1985) for the Arts, Humanities, Fine Arts, Music, Social Sciences, Commerce, and Sciences shall apply to every university “established or incorporated by or under a Central Act, Provincial Act or a State Act, and all institutions recognised under clause (f) of Section 2 of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956 and every Institution deemed to be University under Section 3 of the said Act”.     

“Though the [Union] government had announced that foreign universities satisfying certain conditions can establish their institution in India, the UGC Act must be changed to allow them to award their degree in the Indian institution’s name,” former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Madras P. Duraisamy, who has been on several committees of the UGC, said.

Meanwhile, the draft regulations of the UGC have been approved and the gazette notification was issued on Wednesday.

“Regulation 7(5) states that the qualifications offered in the campus … ‘shall be awarded under the name and seal of the Foreign Higher Education Institution in the country’. So, the degree will be in the name of parent foreign institution and not an Indian Institution degree,” Dr. Duraisamy explained. 

“They will not be UGC approved degrees and they have to get equivalence as in the case of degrees issued by foreign institutions,” he said. 

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