Easing the rules for academic collaborations between Indian and foreign universities, the University Grants Commission (UGC) on Tuesday approved key amendments, including a provision for “dual degree programmes” — both the Indian and foreign institutions will give separate and simultaneous degrees for a course of the same discipline, and at the same level.
The amendments also curb the regulator’s supervisory role in facilitating such collaborations. Indian universities that meet a minimum academic standard will not need UGC’s permission to offer such programmes.
Announcing the decision, UGC chairperson M Jagadesh Kumar said the collaborating institutes will be allowed to offer three kinds of programmes — twinning, joint degrees and dual degrees. While the first two programmes were allowed even under the old regulations, there were few takers, he said. Sources said this was because of excessive regulations.
Students enrolling for these programmes will have to go abroad to earn credits, but they will not have to seek admission separately while doing so. The new regulations, however, are not applicable to programmes offered online and in the open and distance learning mode.
For dual degrees, students will have to complete at least 30 per cent of their course credit at the foreign institution. The degrees awarded by both the Indian and foreign institutions will indicate the credits earned at the respective institutions.
The course will have to be of the same discipline, and at the same level. For example, a student enrolled in a BA History programme in an Indian university can pursue a part of her course at a foreign institution. At the end of the course, the student will be awarded two degrees, separately and simultaneously, by the Indian and foreign institution.
This shall not, in any way, be construed as two degree programmes in separate disciplines or subject areas at two different levels, the UGC has clarified. This means a dual degree in BA English and BSc Physics, or BSc Maths and MSc Biology will not be allowed under this arrangement.
Under the twinning arrangement, a student can study a programme partly in India and partly in a foreign university, but the diploma or degree will be awarded just by the Indian university. Students will have to complete up to 30 per cent of the course’s credits at the foreign institution by means of an exchange programme. The same will be applicable to foreign students enrolling in a similar programme. In this arrangement, credits earned at a foreign institution will be counted toward the degree/ diploma awarded by the Indian institution.
In a joint degree programme, the curriculum is designed jointly by the collaborating institutions, and the degree is awarded by the Indian university. The collaborating foreign university, on the other hand, will offer a certificate bearing the logo of both institutions upon completing the programme. Both the partner institutions will have to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for developing course content jointly. Students from India will be required to complete more than 30 per cent of their course credit at the foreign institution.
Kumar said the amended regulations — titled University Grants Commission (Academic Collaboration between Indian and Foreign Higher Education Institutions to offer Joint Degree, Dual Degree, and Twinning Programmes) Regulations, 2022 — will be notified soon.
The UGC amendments, once notified, will make it easier for Indian higher education institutions to collaborate with foreign universities. It allows greater flexibility and reduces the UGC’s supervisory role.
Under the old set-up, if an Indian and foreign higher education institution planned to collaborate, the UGC had to be “satisfied” about the arrangement after an extensive vetting process. This ranged from examining MoUs between institutes to issuing letters of approvals or rejections.
The new amendments obviate the need for institutes to seek the UGC’s nod as long as the Indian partner institution is accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) with a minimum score of 3.01 on a 4-point scale or figures among the the top 100 universities in the National Institutional Ranking Framework. The foreign partner institutions must be among the world’s top 1,000 in the Times Higher Education and QS World University Rankings.
However, in the case of professional programmes in disciplines such as engineering, medicine and law, the approval of statutory councils or bodies like the AICTE, National Medical Commission and Bar Council of India will still be needed.
The UGC had made the draft regulations public a year ago in February 2021. Later, it had formed a committee to fine-tune the regulations
In the draft amendments, foreign partner institutions were required to be among the world’s top 500. The amendments approved Tuesday increased this to the top 1,000 in global rankings. When asked about this change, Kumar said, “The increased bandwidth is only to allow more institutes to partner and offer more choices to the students.”
“Currently, we have about 4 crore students in Indian higher educational institutions, but this number will increase over time. We believe that the regulations will lead to the internationalization of our higher education and will also provide a great opportunity for our Indian students to acquire multidisciplinary education for an internationally relevant career,” Kumar said.
Courtesy : The Indian Express