Indian higher education institutions will soon be able to collaborate with foreign higher education institutions and offer joint degree and dual degree programmes.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has formulated a draft regulation to facilitate an academic partnership between the Indian and foreign higher education institutions for joint degree programmes; dual degree programmes, credit recognition and transfer; and twinning arrangement, inviting comments and suggestions from the stakeholders.
As per the draft regulation, any Indian higher education institution, recognized by the government and accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) with a minimum score of 3.01 on a 4-point scale, will be eligible for grant of “automatic” for academic collaborations with foreign higher education institutions.
Any Indian higher education institution, which figures in the top 100 University category of National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), and ‘Institutions of Eminence’ will also be eligible for grant of “automatic” approval by the UGC for academic collaboration with the foreign institution.
Any foreign higher education institution figuring in top 500 of Times Higher Education or QS World University ranking will also be eligible for automatic approval.
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had proposed to bring in a regulatory mechanism to permit dual degrees, joint degrees and twinning arrangements in her budget speech on February 1.
“No programme of study and/or research shall be offered which is against the national security and territorial integrity of India,” the draft UGC (Academic Collaboration between Indian and Foreign Higher Education Institutions to offer Joint Degree, Dual Degree and Twinning Programmes) Regulations, 2021 stipulates.
“Wherever foreign exchange is involved, the higher education institution, both Indian and foreign, shall abide by and comply with the relevant regulations, norms, notifications and instructions issued by the Reserve Bank of India and Government of India from time to time.”
For other Indian higher education institutions, the commission will set up an expert committee that will consider their proposal taking various factors into account while evaluating the applications such as credibility of the institutions, faculty, student, research profile, infrastructural resources available, quality of academic programmes offered, overall merit and feasibility of the proposal et al.
“The recommendations of the expert committee shall be placed before the commission for its consideration. The decision of the commission on the application shall be communicated to the applicant Indian higher education institution within 90 days,”
If the commission finds an Indian higher education institution fit for a collaboration with a foreign higher education institution, it will give its approval for five academic years at a time.
“The Indian higher education Institution shall apply, for renewal of approval, granted under these regulations, before six months of its expiration,” the draft regulations stipulate.
In a joint degree programme, Indian and Foreign higher education institutions will jointly design the curriculum. The partner institutions will award a degree with a single certificate, bearing the crests and logo of both collaborating institutions, upon completion of the programme.
In the Dual Degree Programme, the Indian and foreign higher education institutions will award degrees “separately and simultaneously” upon completion of degree requirements of both the institutions. Students will submit to only one examination and evaluation process for each of the courses. In the case of a doctoral degree programme, students must have a supervisor at each institution. However, the student will submit a single thesis.
In both the dual and joint degree programmes, higher education institutions will have to provide an exit option to students who are unable to complete the programme for any treason.
“Tuition fee may be charged from the student only for the residential period in the respective higher education institution,” the draft regulations stipulate for the joint and dual degree programmes both.
In the twinning arrangement, students enrolled with an Indian higher education institution may undertake their programme of study partly in India and partly in the foreign higher education institution. However, the degree or diploma under such twinning arrangements will be awarded by the Indian higher education institution only.
The draft regulations provide for recognition and transfer of credits earned by the students at collaborating higher education institutions.
The credit conferred by a foreign higher education institution will be “recognised, quantified and included towards the credit requirements for a programme delivered by an Indian higher education institution solely or jointly with a foreign higher education institution and vice versa.”