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Indian higher education degrees have been recognized by many foreign countries, including the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, and Australia.
With the recent National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, Indian degrees are now recognized by several foreign countries, which is a positive step towards internationalization of education. However, there are still some areas where Indian degrees lag behind in global recognition, particularly in the fields of engineering and medicine.
To understand the parameters for recognition of Indian degrees in foreign Higher Education Institutes (HEI), we spoke with Arvind Chaturvedi, Pro Vice Chancellor at IILM University in Gurugram and Radhika Shrivastava, Executive Director at Fortune Institute of International Business (FIIB). Chaturvedi stated that foreign HEIs rely on the reputation of Indian universities/institutions. However, for institutions that are not well-known, official recognition is required. The regulatory bodies used for this verification include University Grants Commission (UGC), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), National Medical Commission, and Bar Council. Accreditation agencies like NAAC and NBA are also recognized by foreign HEIs, and the parameters of these agencies are given weightage by some.
Shrivastava added that meeting global education standards involves a comparison of curriculum, program length, and level of study. The best route for Indian HEIs to meet global education standards is to get globally recognized accreditation. In different disciplines, there are globally recognized accreditation agencies that follow rigorous processes and rigid standards. In management, for example, the three top accreditation agencies are AACSB (US based), AMBA (UK HQ), and EQUIS (largely European Union). Regional-level accreditation agencies are also sought after by many institutions. For example, in the management field, SAQS (Asian accreditation, HQ Hyderabad) is considered by many business schools in Asian countries, including India.
To meet global standards, HEIs should promote internationalization by collaborating with foreign universities, offering study abroad programs, and hiring international faculty. They should further develop curricula that are aligned with global education standards and incorporate best practices from around the world. This can include offering courses in emerging fields such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, and cybersecurity. Additionally, Indian HEIs need to attract and retain high-quality faculty who have experience in teaching and research in their respective fields. Faculty members who have international experience can help bring a global perspective to the institution and its programs.
When it comes to accreditation, NAAC, NBA, AICTE, and Association of Indian Universities (AIU) are among the Indian accreditation bodies recognized by foreign HEIs. However, Chaturvedi notes that the kind of accreditation these agencies provide differs from one another. NAAC accredits an institution (normally universities/colleges), while NBA accredits programs like M.Tech (Mechanical) or MBA. Similarly, AICTE approves programs, while AIU provides equivalence to a non-degree program like PGDM. Besides, UGC, which is the main accreditation body from higher education in India, is also recognized by many foreign HEIs.
Regarding the lack of recognition of some Indian professional degrees in engineering and medicine, Chaturvedi explains that the major issue is with syllabus, pedagogy, duration, and internship. Private sector HEIs in India mostly suffer from this lack of recognition, but it cannot be generalized. To avoid this discrimination, many private HEIs are heading for global accreditation.
Collaborations between accreditation bodies can provide opportunities for sharing best practices, exchanging knowledge, and promoting internationalization of Indian HEIs. Such tie-ups can help Indian HEIs align with international quality standards and practices, especially those seeking recognition and acceptance of their degrees by foreign HEIs and employers. Collaboration with foreign accreditation bodies can help Indian HEIs gain a better understanding of the global higher education landscape and adapt to changing international standards.
However, Shrivastava warns that merger or joint-operation of an Indian agency with a foreign one is unthinkable until the approach, procedures, parameters, and rigor are the same. There is a huge difference between Indian and foreign accreditation agencies’ approach and rigor. Parameters of accreditation are also different. Most global accreditation agencies have parameters that are objectively measurable, with very little scope for subjectivity or any kind of manipulation.
To get accredited, every process requires rigid standards to be followed. Infrastructure, faculty requirements, teaching and learning systems, library, IT infrastructure, following measurable outcomes-based systems, and effective evaluation processes are essential. Success is also reflected in good placements. For engineering or management programs, internship and industry connection are also important. Other factors that are important are diversity and inclusion, international connections in terms of students and faculty exchange, research, publications, among others, cannot be ignored.
Indian HEIs need to focus on internationalization, curriculum development, and quality of faculty to meet global standards. Collaboration between Indian and foreign accreditation bodies can provide opportunities for sharing best practices, exchanging knowledge, and promoting internationalization of Indian HEIs. HEIs must promote internationalization by collaborating with foreign universities, offering study abroad programs, and hiring international faculty. Furthermore, they need to develop curricula that are aligned with global education standards and incorporate best practices from around the world. With these measures, Indian higher education degrees can meet global standards for recognition abroad.