Getting foreign technical degrees just got tougher in India
The AICTE (The All India Council for Technical Education) now wants to regulate all ‘unrecognized’ foreign institutions running degree or diploma courses in India in association with local partners.’ In fact, a new bill - the Foreign Educational Institutions Bill, 2007 – will now regulate the entry and operation of foreign educational institutions (FEIs) in India in order to “protect students, ensure quality education and stem the commercialisation of education.”
Commercialisation of education? What is the government talking about? What about the hundreds of desi private educational institutes (run by politicians) which take lakhs of rupees as ‘capitation fees’ from students?
Will the Bill work?
As for regulating the foreign degrees, I can understand if dubious educational institutions (those not recognized by their own governments) are not allowed to operate in India, but there are few institutes in this category. I can also understand if the government simply wants to make a list of these institutes because can you believe it, at present the government does not even know how many such foreign educational institutions there are! Anyone can start any institute claiming foreign affiliation and thereby cheat students. But forcing institutes to get mandatory ‘approvals’ can lead to corruption and hamper the the growth of these institutes.
Besides, the Bill is a weak one and a detailed analysis of the subject can be read here:
…it (the Bill) encourages fee-hiking, offers loopholes where institutional partnerships are involved, leaves open the possibility of substandard education, and gives the government arbitrary powers to exempt certain foreign universities from any provision of the legislation…it demands no minimum prescribed standards of quality for FEIs and will, therefore, fail to ensure that quality education is provided. …any FEI, therefore, however low its educational standards in its country of origin, would be able to operate in India. Furthermore, the government would have no right to intervene to bring substandard FEI’s on a par with the educational, curricular and faculty standards prevalent in good Indian educational institutions.
So the Bill is likely to remain a bit of a joke.
Interestingly, about ten years ago India worked overtime to ban foreign degrees. You can read about that here. I thought we would have learnt from past mistakes…seen that such policies never helped anybody except the babus. Look at the terrible educational infrastructure we have today!
Only 7 per cent of Indians in the 18-24 age group enter higher education and it is “access to schools” that is the critical factor to help the poor, not strangling higher education (so what if it’s foreign!) Trying to throttle FEI’s or even giving them financial support (it is planning to do this in select cases according to the Bill!) is a bad idea.
There are, on average, only four secondary schools for every hundred square kilometres in the country…for every hundred thousand people, there are only 14 schools in the country; the figures are even lower in the big and populous States. The expenditure on secondary education was 0.88 per cent of GDP, much less than the 1.5 per cent recommended by the Central Advisory Board on Education.
Ideally every single Indian should be able to have the opportunity for the best of education but if only the well-to-do are reaching the higher rungs of the education pyramid, well, it’s tragic, but those who do get there need opportunities to study further. But there are those who feel that the government is following what they believe to be a socialist agenda.
What are aspiring students to do?
Even if budgets have been allocated for improving our educational infrastructure, at present there is nothing much on the ground. So what are students supposed to do? What about those who can neither afford to go abroad for studies and/or those who cannot get admission into the few good institutes here? Worse, what about industry? There is a terrible shortage of technical graduates today in India and this Bill is going to throttle the supply.
Industry isn’t worried, but the government is
If anyone should be worried about foreign degrees imparting inferior education, it’s industry. But they aren’t worried, and that’s not surprising as some reputed, recognised Indian educational institutions like the Mumbai-based Institute of International Studies (IIS), Mangalore-based International Centre for Applied Sciences and the Pune-based Bharati Vidyapeeth’s Institutes of Biotechnology are collaborating with reputed foreign schools to offer their degrees here. And industry, specifically companies like Reliance, Future Group, and ICICI have shown interest in hiring these graduates. In fact the buzz is that often the training offered in these institutes is “more current.”
AICTE should concentrate on improving Indian Institutes
Earlier this year AICTE signed the Washington Accord, (an agreement between the bodies which accredit professional engineering degree programs in the signatory countries) and this means international recognition for Indian technical colleges affiliated to the AICTE. But admission to the Washington Accord is just provisional, and can become a reality only if the colleges upgrade their facilities. But as one of my commentators, Aditya, said, the agreement has not even be ratified yet and as for the colleges starting to upgrade – that seems a distant dream!
AICTE should push this upgradation harder, wield the whip if need be, and ensure that Indian technical courses come up to the mark. It is believed that about 50 percent of our tech grads are not good enough and AICTE should concentrate on refurbishing, overhauling and revamping these various colleges, instead of wasting time on regulating ‘foreign’ institutes, handing out ‘approvals’ and deciding whom to give financial assistance to! To ensure that students aren’t cheated, it can always make public the list of such institutes and even mention that they aren’t affiliated to the AICTE.
(Photo linked to the original and is for representative purposes only)
Related Reading: Who produces more engineers? The US or India?
Are our engineers good enough?
India might hire from abroad to make up the shortfall of engineers
Indian government wants to throttle International schools
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