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India: UK masters “not valid” for government jobs

In a blow for UK universities, a panel of Indian educationalists has recommended that students with a masters degree from the UK take additional credits at Indian universities to be eligible for government jobs or higher study in India.

The Association of Indian Universities does not recognise master's degrees of under two years

It follows an unsuccessful lobbying campaign by Britain to get India to recognise its one-year courses as equivalent to two-year Indian courses. Observers now fear Britain’s sway in the Indian market will be further weakened after Indian enrolments at UK universities plummeted last year due to tougher visa policies.

Lakshmi Iyer, head of education at Sannam 4, a market entry specialist, told The PIE News: “UK institutions have their task cut out in India presently with the extremely negative reaction to post-study work visa closure. Wider publicity for the panel’s conclusions would mean that more students are going to weigh their options even more carefully and look towards countries that offer two-year masters.”

“Wider publicity for the panel’s conclusions would mean that more students are going weigh their options even more carefully”

Nearly 26,000 Indians study at postgraduate level in the UK, making India Britain’s second biggest postgrad market. But the Association of Indian Universities – which grants recognition or equivalence to foreign degrees in India – does not recognise master’s degrees of under two years in duration.

Lakshmi says this does not impact the majority who return to work in India’s private sector, more those wishing to work in government or academia.

An India-UK Qualification Taskforce was established in 2011 to explore the issue of the recognition, and a  comparative study was jointly commissioned by the UK HE International Unit and the British Council in 2012 considering criteria such as course content, occupational outcomes and quality assurance.

It found in Britain’s favour last July. But responding to the study last month representatives from India’s University Grants Commission, All India Council of Technical Education and the Central Board of Secondary Education, ruled that Indian programmes covered a wider curriculum and more “core” subjects. The panel is now expected to “frame guidelines” for Indian universities on UK-Indian credit recognition, according to the Calcutta Telegraph.

Iyer said she was disappointed by the decision, noting that all of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s degrees were earned in Britain.

“It is difficult to digest the fact that they found the British curriculum lacking in spread of core modules”

“The British Government needs to keep this issue very much on the agenda as India despite the downturn remains a very important source country,” she said.

Indian undergraduate enrolments in the UK fell 23.5% in 2012, in response to the abolition of the post-study work visa which left fewer Indians able to gain work experience after their degree.

Ahead of a trade mission to India next week, British Prime Minister David Cameron urged Indians to continue studying in the UK, telling Indian television there was “no limit on the number of students who can come from India to study at British universities, no limit at all”.

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