Be careful before you enroll into that foreign course
Import of higher education into India is wonderful in itself because those who cannot afford to go abroad to get their degrees can get them here. However at times the foreign course that the student dreamed of can be a disaster. It fails because the course fails to take into account Indian conditions…in other words the course runs as if it is operating in the country of its origin.
It was quite disturbing to read that a Rs 4-lakh 2-year foreign degree course (offered by ICRI, India’s premier Clinical Research Institute and UK’s Cranfield University, U.K) failed 27 of its 551 students. One of the reasons for the disaster was that the course relied too heavily on the internet. There was a blackboard system on the internet from which the students had to take notes online. But not surprisingly the system never worked properly and could not be fixed either!
Another problem was the thesis. The students did not fare well in their thesis which was compulsory…”the foreign course required a research thesis of 20,000 words, to be completed in the last four months at the workplace.” This thesis accounted for 50 percent of the marks in the second year. Not only were the Indian students unfamiliar with how to write such a thesis, they were additionally disadvantaged as the thesis required them to source research data from corporates. As it says in a Times of India article (could not get the link):
The university did not understand that in India, while doing research, very few companies reveal their data to students and provide R&D facilities to them. Yet, many of the students were judged on the research part of the thesis…
Clearly, Cranfiled university failed to take into account that in India companies are secretive and not student friendly. Was it surprising then that so many students failed? Well, luckily the university is giving them a second chance…
But I cannot help but wonder if these foreign universities have done their own homework. Do they know anything at all about India? They should have known that students from a rural background in particular would find the course very tough, though even students from metros like Mumbai failed the course.
India has come a long way from the time when the government wanted to ban all foreign courses in India (about 10 years ago) as they were under the impression that it was something for the “elite.” Now that they have realised that it’s the middle classes who are gasping for higher education they’ve changed their mind. Not just that. The government has realised that:
…a liberal framework for foreign education providers would save India annually $4bn in foreign exchange. More than a lakh Indian students join foreign varsities to pursue higher studies every year. A number of foreign universities, including those from the US, the UK and Australia, are keen to set up shop in India.
However the government is not involved in monitoring the quality of the courses. There is a bill (the Foreign Educational Institutions Bill, 2007) regulating the entry and the operations of foreign educational institutions (FEIs) in India but it is mostly the fee structure that the government wants to control. The government has not prescribed any minimum standards that the institutes have to follow and the government will hardly care if the course is suited to Indian conditions or not. It’s up to the students to figure it all out.
(Photograph is by me and is a stock photo, not related to the university being written about. The second image is the shot of the article from the Times epaper)