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New HE partnership rules in India could boost outbound mobility

A new policy has been announced in India which will allow Indian educational institutions to collaborate with those outside the country for the first time, with the Indian authorities acknowledging time spent abroad on students’ degree certificates.

"We feel that this step has surely been taken to make alliance stronger between Indian and foreign academic institutions"

The move, which was announced in June by the University Grants Commission, will enable Indian universities to initiate partnerships with educational institutions abroad.

The regulations will allow Indian students to undertake two semesters of their undergraduate degree at a partner foreign university, or one semester of their postgraduate degree, and receive recognition for their classes taken abroad when they return to their home institution.

“We all know there is an appetite in India to study abroad”

Lakshmi Iyer, director and head of education at market entry specialist, Sannam S4, hailed this move as a positive step.

“For the first time we are allowing for citations on degree certificates and for acknowledging time spent in foreign institutions,” she told The PIE News.

“India definitely has potential to be a player of reckoning in TNE so long as the law makers can design rules that are easy to understand and implement.”

Before these new regulations, only education institutions outside of India were able to initiate the partnership, and not the other way around.

Surjit Singh Pabla, president of the Indian Council of Universities, said that this policy helps to make the Indian degree more valuable by having the name and insignia of the foreign university.

“We feel that this step has surely been taken to make alliance stronger between Indian and foreign academic institutions so that students may have additional choices, improved curriculum and opportunities,” he said.

Iyer also emphasised that this could have a positive impact on outbound mobility out of India. “We all know there is an appetite in India to study abroad,” she said.

“Recognition back home, return on investment, accessibility and affordability are key for the success of any collaborative programme, or for that matter, any study abroad venture.”

“Majority of Indian institutions do not really understand internationalisation”

The Indian institution must be the degree awarding institution, and no joint degrees are permitted as a result of these new regulations.

Foreign institutions partnering with institutions in India, according to the regulations, must be accredited with the highest grade or threshold level, and have “operative arrangements in India through Indian Education Institution(s) by way of collaboration”.

Indian institutions on the other hand, as well as being accredited to the highest level, must also “have experience of at least six years or have at least two batches of students graduating, whichever is earlier”.

An online portal will be set up by the UGC in order for eligible Indian institutions applying for partnerships with the foreign institution to be approved.

“Majority of Indian institutions do not really understand internationalisation. It is ‘add an MOU and stir’ approach as some would say,” said Iyer.

“This step by the government would really make institutions that are serious about internationalisation get their act together and start finding equivalent foreign institutions to collaborate with and offer much needed exposure to aspirational India.”

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