Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Update from Indian Higher Education Sector - May 2008

Highlight of the Month
University Grants Commission (UGC) gets tough on deemed Universities for having off-shore campuses without approval
Deemed universities have been warned by UGC that they will lose their status if they open off-shore campuses and introduce courses without UGC approval. The notification comes as a result of some deemed universities having recently opened off-shore campuses, new departments and study centers without the approval of UGC. Offering distance learning courses, franchising or affiliating colleges to a deemed university without UGC permission will result in action.
Earlier deemed university status was granted to universities working in focused areas for at least 15 years. However, the rule was modified in the late 1990s and the deemed university status was accorded to several institutions offering courses in upcoming areas. As a result, between 2002 and 2006, while central and state universities grew by 11 per cent and 22 per cent respectively, deemed universities grew by a whopping 96 per cent, according to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India. The strictures issued by the UGC are also to check the quality of education being offered by these institutions.

Policy Updates

Foreign post graduate medical degrees to be accepted in India
The Indian government has issued notification that post graduate medical degrees from English speaking countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, U.K. and the U.S. will now be recognized in India. What comes as the government’s move to overcome shortage of medical practitioners in the country, it is also conditional that the medical practitioners be recognized for enrollment in the countries from where they have been awarded these degrees. Those holding the foreign degrees will no longer have to be screened by the Medical Council of India (MCI) as in the past.
This government decision will give a further boost to Indian medical students to pursue post graduate degrees in the developed countries and get global exposure to come back and practice in India. In addition, this will also provide help to corporate hospitals in India to overcome their manpower shortage. Another advantage will be in the area of health-care outsourcing wherein a doctor sitting in India can give medical opinion for example to a hospital in the U.S. which requires the doctors to have a U.S. Medical Board certification.

By 2009, B.S. course will replace the three year B.Sc. course in the country
Based on the American model, the B.S. course will be introduced to replace the current three year B.Sc. course in India. The B.Sc. course will soon be phased out and in the new four year B.S. course, students in the first year of study will get a grounding in the core science stream after which they will chose and specialize in their electives. The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore and the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) will first introduce the program in 2009 followed by other universities across the country.
The new system, with its emphasis on practical and project work, will be more professional and closer to an engineering degree. This would also allow bright students to take up a Ph.D. immediately after they graduate, saving them a year. The new system will encourage cross disciplinary studies allowing students to pursue a mix of life sciences and mathematics. The course will be designed in such a way that an engineering drop-out will be able to switch to the four year science program and vice-versa.

Stricter rules for deemed to be universities
With large numbers of institutions mushrooming and being accorded deemed to be university status, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has asked the University Grants Commission (UGC), the apex government body for coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of university education in India, to tighten rules for granting the deemed to be university status.
The Ministry and the UGC have asked institutions deemed to be universities to introduce academic reforms to improve the quality of education in addition to making the M. Phil. and Ph.D. programs being offered by them, formal. The institutions have also been asked to take on a national character by admitting students countrywide by nationwide publicity of their courses; introducing a semester system and with a uniform academic calendar.

National Knowledge Commission concerned over paucity of engineering faculty
The National Knowledge Commission (NKC), headed by Sam Pitroda, has expressed concern over the paucity of engineering faculty in India since engineering education is one of the key enablers of India’s growth. The dearth of faculty in engineering institutions is a well known fact and the NKC’s concern will only bring the problem to the forefront with the government when it has massive expansion planned in technical education in the Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-12).
In the anvil for the Eleventh Plan are four new Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), 20 new Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs), two Indian Institutes of Scientific Education and Research (IISERs) and two Schools of Planning and Architecture.

Norms for regulating international schools (Primary, middle and secondary level schools)
The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) is pushing for stricter norms for regulating the functioning of international schools in India. It proposes to bring under its scrutiny the curriculum, fee structure and the number of foreign teachers appointed by the foreign institution with the idea of making the international schools follow guidelines which are not currently in place.
With the significant rise in the number of international school operating in the country it is imperative that a well defined policy be designed to regulate their functioning in India, including taking due permission of the Indian Government before starting operations in India. However, the Prime Minister’s Office has directed the Ministry to consult the Planning Commission before asking the cabinet to consider the proposal.

Country Updates
– Canada has relaxed work permit rules for international students. The move comes as a major incentive to international students including Indian students who are looking beyond U.K., U.S. and Australia for higher education. Under the Post Graduation Work Permit Program, international students will have no restrictions on the type of employment and no requirement for a job offer. To be eligible for the program, international students must have studied full time for eight months preceding the completion of the program of studies.

France – The awareness of world class technical education being offered in France is fast gaining pace with Indian techies wanting to pursue higher education abroad. France is planning to increase the number of Indian students going to France. Its target is to triple the number of Indian students currently in France from 1,200 to 4,000 plus.

Singapore – Singapore expects more than 10 per cent of its international students to come from India. Currently the figure is four per cent. Singapore is positioning itself to Indian students as a preferred destination of higher education over U.K. and U.S. based on its geographical proximity, excellent job opportunities, the business and trade environment and Singapore’s cosmopolitan nature. Ease of obtaining a visa is also an added advantage Singapore has over U.K. and U.S., to students aspiring to study there.

U.K. – Foreign students especially Indians studying in Britain will be allowed by the government to stay up to two years instead of the present one year, with effect from the current year.
British universities will also be helping the Indian Government to set up one new Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), one new Indian Institute of Scientific Education and Research (IISER) and one central university. Areas of cooperation will be in building quality faculty, curriculum design, pedagogy and infrastructure.
Source: Leading Indian dailies and regional newspapers

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