Explained: UGC rules for tie-ups between Indian and foreign universities

Context: The rules governing tie-ups between Indian and foreign higher educational institutions have been simplified by the University Grants Commission (UGC) to expand the net of academic collaborations.

UGC chairperson recently announced that the commission has approved an amended set of regulations, which will soon be notified.

The article explains the changes in the wake of the amendments.

Which regulations have been amended?

The UGC sets minimum standards for many areas of higher education, ranging from academic standards to quality of training imparted to teachers.

The University Grants Commission (Academic Collaboration between Indian and Foreign Higher Education Institutions to offer Joint Degree, Dual Degree, and Twinning Programmes) Regulations, 2022 will govern twinning programmes, joint degree, and dual degree programmes to be offered jointly by Indian and foreign universities.

What do the regulations say on twinning programmes?

In the twinning programme, students will be enrolled in a degree programme at an Indian institute, and they will get an opportunity to undergo an exchange programme with the partner foreign university.

Students will have to complete up to 30% of the course’s credits at the foreign institution by means of an exchange programme. The same will be applicable to foreign students enrolling in a similar programme.

The degree at the end of the course will be provided by the Indian institution.

Note: As of now, the regulations allow only full time courses through conventional, offline mode.

How have the rules been simplified?

The previous set of regulations gave the UGC extensive powers to monitor the entire process of collaboration, ranging from examining MoUs between institutes to issuing letters of approvals or rejections. The proposed amendments eliminate the need for institutes to seek the UGC’s nod.

However, in the case of professional programmes in disciplines such as engineering, medicine and law, the approval of statutory councils or bodies like the AICTE will still be needed.

How will the dual-degrees be structured?

The dual-degrees, introduced for the first time, will enable a student to earn two degrees for a course of the same discipline, and at the same level. Students will have to complete at least 30 per cent of their course credit at the foreign institution.

– For example, a student enrolled in a BA English programme in an Indian university can pursue a part of her course at a foreign institution.

At the end of the course, the student will be awarded two degrees, separately and simultaneously, by the Indian and foreign institutions. This shall not, in any way, be construed as two degree programmes in separate disciplines or subject areas at two different levels, the UGC has clarified.

This means a dual degree in BA English and BSc Physics, or BSc Maths and MSc Biology will not be allowed under this arrangement.

How will joint degree programmes be different from dual degrees?

Unlike dual degree, in the case of joint degree programmes, there will be one degree certificate, bearing the names of both the institutions.

The curriculum will be jointly designed by the collaborating institutions like in the case of dual degrees.

How can institutes partner with each other and what will be the eligibility criteria?

Any Indian higher educational institution accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) with a minimum score of 3.01 on a 4-point scale or featuring in the top 1,000 of Times Higher Education (THE) or QS World University Rankings will be eligible to participate.

For Indian institutes, being in the top 100 list of the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) is also an acceptable criterion.

Foreign institutes willing to enter a partnership must rank in the top 1,000 in either of the two world university rankings.

The Indian institutions willing to enter into such collaborative arrangements will also have to open office for international affairs.

Source: This post is based on the article “Explained: UGC rules for tie-ups between Indian and foreign universities” published in The Indian Express on 23rd Apr 22.

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