Here's what the UGC's amendment to the international collaboration regulations will mean for Indian students looking to study abroad

The regulations have also removed approval procedures for "entitled institutions" that fulfil certain criteria. Will internationalise education for Indian students, says UGC Chairman
Pic: Edexlive
Pic: Edexlive

The University Grants Commission has just cleared some major amendments to the regulations for academic collaboration with foreign higher educational institutions.

The new regulations were adopted by the UGC today at its 557th commission meeting on April 19, 2022, said the UGC Chairman M Jagadesh Kumar in an online interaction with the media. The "joint degree programme", as approved by the new regulations, will be carried out via an MoU between Indian and foreign higher education institutions, where the student will be allowed to study a semester or two abroad and complete more than 30 per cent of the credit requirement for the programme abroad. A certificate will be provided for the credits completed abroad by the respective foreign university, but only the Indian university will award the student with the degree for the programme. The inverse will also apply to foreign students wanting to study in India. 

The regulations also amend the qualification criteria for universities to be able to participate in overseas collaborations. According to the 2016 regulations, only those institutions that rank within the top 500 of global rankings such as QS World University Rankings or the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings will be eligible to sign MoUs with Indian universities and vice-versa. However, these criteria has now been updated and institutes need to rank within the top 1000 in order to qualify. When asked if the revision will impact the quality of the institutes, the UGC Chairman said that the decision was taken in order to broaden the opportunities for Indian students willing to study abroad. 

The regulations also create a category of "entitled institutions" that will be allowed to sign MoU for such collaborations without any approval from the UGC. For institutions to qualify as "entitled institutions" they will have to either rank in the top 1000 of the QS or THE global rankings, or in the top 100 of the Ministry of Education's National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF), or possess a NAAC Grade of 3.0 or above. These institutions will only have to inform the UGC of their intention to sign the MoU and the type of programmes involved. 

Apart from the joint degree, the regulations also provide for the twinning programme and the dual degree programme. Under the twinning programme, the students can complete not more than 30 per cent of the credit requirement of the course and will be awarded the degree only by their home country's university. The dual degree programme will allow students to complete more than 30 per cent of the credit requirement and they will also be awarded a degree each by both institutions they studied at. It is to be noted that these programmes will be for the same course/degree and not separate degrees. These programmes are only available in the conventional (physical) mode of study and will not be applicable to distant or online courses.

The UGC Chairman said that such collaborations will also improve international relations. He added that the higher educational institutions will be directed to keep the fee structure "reasonable" and disclose it on their website along with details of the course for the process of admission. However, the UGC has not decided on any cap on the fees the institutes can charge for these courses.

Provisions will also have to be made for an "exit pathway" by the respective institutions in case the student decides that they cannot continue with the programme. "We have provided for a lot of flexibility in these provisions. These are in line with the National Education Policy (NEP) which aims to make education affordable, multidisciplinary and to provide high quality education through collaboration. The programmes will lead to internationalisation of education for Indian students with an internationally-relevant curriculum. It will also enhance the employability of Indian students and attract foreign students to India," said the UGC Chairman about the regulations.

Kumar also said that the move will check the number of foreign students who pay huge amounts of money to study abroad. "They can instead invest this amount in gaining an education at home," he added.

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