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The Foreign Tag

The Foreign Tag

The aspiration to study abroad rests somewhere deep inside for many Indian students and even parents. However, not all students are lucky to go and study at prestigious institutes like Oxford or Harvard. Academic excellence is not the only limiting factor—money is another restraining element in dreams not being realised. To bridge this unmet demand, some Indian universities offer courses in affiliation with foreign universities, at a relatively affordable cost. Several Indian universities have mushroomed in the past decade that have worked in tie-ups with colleges and universities abroad to get a good mix of both local and international flavour.

Says Ashok Mittal, Chancellor, Lovely Professional University (LPU), “Foreign collaboration allows for exchange of ideas and best practices. When students go to foreign universities they build up more ideas and better understanding of subjects. The gain is experienced by both the students and the faculty.” Tie-up and exchange programmes have long been the case with engineering and management streams, but in recent times such an arrangement is visible even with other streams like law, literature, psychology, sciences and accounting.

A lot of such programmes have benefited from the government’s policy to allow setting up of private universities, which are not overly hampered by budgets and resources. These centres of learning are spread outside the big metros in places like Chandigarh, Jalandhar, Sonipat, Pune and in the outskirts of Delhi, in Gurugram and Greater Noida, accessible to people in smaller cities as well.

Global vistas

The availability of large tracts of land has allowed these new ventures to leave no stone unturned in building institutions of global size and scale, with the latest and best of amenities. These institutions are also able to attract foreign students to study here in India, creating multi-ethnic confluence of students and faculty, which was not the case until some years ago. “At LPU, you get an international feel with exchange programme students, virtual classrooms and lectures by international faculty,” says 25-yearold Gurugram-based, Varinda Garg.

Garg is pursuing her MBA degree at LPU with dual speciality in marketing and HR, which included a 45-day internship at the University of Missouri. “It was a unique experience. Very different from how things happen here. We had classes three days a week and had to make a report on the basis of what I learnt and that was a part of my course,” she gushes. The short experience allowed her to value the non-textbook and practical approach to the subject being taught. “It helped me understand things better and also helped me with the placement at IIFL,” she says.

Affiliations of Indian colleges and universities with international institutions work in different ways. The International Centre for Applied Sciences (ICAS), Manipal University, for example, offers courses under international transfer programmes from several foreign universities. Students are allowed to transfer their credits and graduate with an international engineering degree from some of the top universities in the world as the final degree is awarded by the foreign university. “ICAS conducts the foundation courses and facilitates smooth transfer of students to foreign universities and the final degree is awarded by the foreign university, not by us,” says Radhakrishna S. Aithal, Director, ICAS. On successful completion of the course, students participate in the placement activities of the foreign university.

However, in the case of programmes offered by LPU the scenario is slightly different. “Right now a degree offered by a foreign university is not approved by the AICTE and there is not much clarity on the matter. For example, in order to complete a course if a student needs 40 credits, he or she can get 36 of them in India and the remaining from an affiliated foreign university. This does not reflect in the degree, but is mentioned in the transcript and the student can include it in the CV,” says Mittal. A lot about the veracity and legitimacy of such programmes depends on how the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) views them.

Cost effective

Exchange and affiliate programme offer considerable savings if one compares the cost that one would otherwise incur in studying abroad. Fees for a course in India are much lower than for a comparable course abroad. Students also get to save substantially in the cost of living and travel. For instance, in the case of ICAS, the first two years of study is in India, which knocks down costs significantly.

In case of colleges which have well established exchange programs, students get to experience the foreign locale by visiting the foreign university and spending time there, at no extra cost. For Garg, her two month summer internship in Missouri University was on a full scholarship. “I did not have to pay anything extra apart from the travel and living expenses and the latter was on the lower side because I stayed at the university accommodation,” she says.

“Most of these courses are priced lower than the cost of taking the same course abroad. However, they are more expensive than the regular course at an Indian private institution,” says Dr. Rahul Choudaha, co-founder and CEO, DrEducation, an international higher education and research consulting firm. The affiliations are not just for graduate programs; a lot of such offerings are available to even post graduate students, which means working professionals who do not wish to take a career break have the option of getting a global flavor without incurring the costs of going abroad and studying.

Career push

A doubt that creeps into many parents is about the career prospects of such course affiliations. Many institutions reassure that these courses are not just on par with what some of the best Indian universities offer, these colleges further stress that the career prospects are far brighter for those who undertake such programs, because these courses are well-integrated to provide functional knowledge of the subject area. “As these courses are aligned with international pedagogy, they offer scope for internships or on site projects/assignments. In short, these courses focus on developing related skills, plus offer huge exposure in the form of student exchange programmes and foreign faculties,” says Vibha Kagzi, Founder & CEO, ReachIvy.com, an education consulting firm.

“Such international relationships offer qualifications which prepare a student to work across geographies, making graduates highly employable and sought after, with additional traits of critical thinking, intellectual curiosity and leadership potential. This combination of personality traits and competencies are in demand among the best employers in the world today,” says Parag Diwan, President, Great Lakes College, Gurugram, which offers a Bachelor of Science and Business Management degree in collaboration with University of London.

Mumbai-based Harsh Mehrotra, 26, completed his MBA(dual specialisation) from Universal Business School, Mumbai, which offers a degree from Cardiff Metropolitan University, UK. “The course benefited me greatly and also helped me incorporate an analytical approach to solving real-time situations at work,” says Mehrotra. He currently works as Manager Operations, Hathway Digital in Mumbai where he got placed from campus.

“Opting to enrol in the affiliated courses depends upon the priority and situation of an individual student,” says Kagzi. “A study abroad experience exposes you to a diverse group of classmates, at a campus equipped with top-notch facilities. However, these courses can serve as a test drive for those who want to make a leap abroad as the learning approach of these courses are like those abroad. Furthermore, you also get to learn about the differences, interact with professors and gain understanding about studying abroad,” she adds.

The attraction of a foreign collaboration or tie-up should not be blindly followed. The Association of Indian Universities (AIU) website provides relevant information on courses offered by universities and colleges with foreign affiliations. The FAQ page will direct you to specific facts related to the status of the university, affiliation of courses etc. Set the right expectations for the course you are enrolling in, if you want to get the right academic experience, opportunity and its prospects for a bright future.

Types of foreign collaborations

The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has laid out strict criteria for foreign universities to operate out of India. Details of AICTE approved institutes are mentioned on the AICTE website, and the kind of recognition they can offer is also mentioned on the site. Do look up frequently on what is being offered, as accreditations and partnerships are time bound and the AICTE changes them from time to time. Remember to check the claims of institutions and do not be blinded by what they say or claim in their brochures. Make sure that you check the authenticity of the same from the AICTE website instead of ruing in future because of unawareness, after having enrolled into an unrecognized college or university programmes.

Joint or Dual Degree:

In such programmes, students receive the degree from the partner foreign university after successful completion of the programme in India. The foreign university and the partner Indian institute administer the degree programme jointly.

Certificate Programmes:

Graduate and post-graduate certificate programs of foreign universities may be offered in their entirety through Indian institutions. In addition to their existing certificate programs, foreign universities may suitably tailor their graduate and post-graduate degree or diploma programs and offer them as certificate programs in India. Students completing the certificate programs offered through Indian institutions will be given certificates by the foreign university.

Twinning or Transfer Programs:

Under these programs, students who complete at least one year of graduate program (10+2+1) in Indian institutions are eligible for admission as transfer students to graduate programs in the foreign universities. Students who complete second year (10+2+2) or third year (10+2+3) of graduate program may also transfer to graduate programs in the foreign universities and complete the remainder of the program. However, TOEFL/IELTS and SAT scores will be required for admission to the foreign universities.

Students who complete the first year of post-graduate program in Indian institutions will be eligible for admission to post-graduate degree programs of the foreign universities. TOEFL and GRE/GMAT scores will be required for admission to the post-graduate programs in the foreign universities.

Students enrolling in the graduate and post-graduate programs of the foreign universities will be awarded degrees and diplomas by the foreign university after successful completion of studies.

Distance Education Programs:

The distance education programs offered in India by foreign universities in collaboration with Indian institutions would be for graduate and post graduate degree, diploma, and certificate programs. Students will receive degrees, diplomas, and certificates from the concerned foreign universities after successful completion of the programs in India. Foreign universities and the Indian institutions will administer the programs jointly.

anaghpal@outlookindia.com