Explained: UGC rules for matchmaking between Indian and foreign universities

Rules governing matchmaking between Indian and foreign higher education institutions have been simplified by the University Grants Commission (UGC) to expand the network of academic collaborations.

Tuesday, the president of the UGC Professor M Jagadesh Kumar announced that the commission has approved an amended regulation, which will be notified soon. The Indian Express explains the changes as a result of the modifications.

What regulations have been changed?

UGC sets minimum standards for many areas of higher education, ranging from academic standards to the quality of training provided to teachers. In this case, the UGC had in 2012 issued regulations on the tie-ups that Indian and foreign universities can forge. The regulations were changed again in 2016 after it emerged that university collaborations were not resuming despite the arrangements in place. But the 2016 amendment didn’t help much either, necessitating the final set of changes. The University Scholarship Commission (Academic Collaboration between Indian and Foreign Tertiary Institutions to Offer Joint Degree, Dual Degree and Twinning Programs) Regulations 2022 will govern twinning, joint degree and twinning programs dual degree programs which will be offered jointly by Indian and foreign universities. .

What do the regulations say about buddy programs?

Under the twinning program, students will be enrolled in a degree program at an Indian institute and will have the opportunity to pursue an exchange program with the partner foreign university. Students will be required to complete up to 30 percent of the course credits at the foreign institution as part of an exchange program. The same will apply to foreign students enrolled in a similar program. The diploma at the end of the course will be provided by the Indian institution.

How will the dual degrees be structured?

the double degrees, introduced for the first time, will allow a student to obtain two diplomas for a course in the same discipline, and at the same level. Students will be required to complete at least 30% of their course credits at the foreign institution. For example, a student enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program in English at an Indian university can continue 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 Indian and foreign institutions. This should in no way be construed as two degree programs in separate disciplines or fields at two different levels, UGC clarified. This means that a double degree in BA English and BSc Physics, or BSc Mathematics and MSc Biology will not be permitted under this arrangement.

How will joint degree programs be different from dual degrees?

Unlike the double degree, in the case of joint degree programs there will be a single degree, bearing the names of both institutions. The program will be designed jointly by the collaborating institutions as in the case of double degrees. Indian students will be required to complete at least 30% of their course credits at the overseas institution. In the case of joint doctoral programs, students will have a supervisor in both participating institutes and must spend at least one semester in the collaborating institutes. The student will submit a single thesis respecting a framework developed jointly by the participating institutions.

Can Indian and foreign institutes collaborate to offer such joint programs in online mode?

No, the regulations only allow full-time courses in conventional offline mode.

How can institutes join forces and what will be the eligibility criteria?

Any Indian higher education institution accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) with a minimum score of 3.01 on a 4-point scale or in the top 1,000 of the Times Higher Education (THE) rankings ) or QS World University Rankings will be eligible to participate. For Indian institutes, being in the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) Top 100 list is also an acceptable criterion. Foreign institutes wishing to enter into a partnership must rank among the top 1,000 in either of the two world university rankings. Indian institutions wishing to enter into such collaboration agreements will also have to open an office for international affairs.

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How have the rules been simplified?

The previous set of regulations gave the UGC sweeping powers to oversee the entire collaboration process, from reviewing memorandums of understanding between institutes to issuing letters of approval or rejection. The proposed changes eliminate the need for institutes to seek UGC approval. However, in the case of professional programs in disciplines such as engineering, medicine and law, the approval of statutory councils or bodies such as AICTE will always be necessary. Indian institutes seeking to offer such programs will need clearances from their internal academic bodies such as Board of Trustees, Executive Councils, etc. The second step for them would be to sign memorandums of understanding with foreign partner institutes. Previously, these MoUs required UGC approval.

What will be the admission criteria and fees for programs offered in collaboration?

For twinning, dual degree and joint degree programs, fees for the entire course duration will be made public at the time of admission. For twinning and joint degree programs, students will need to meet the admission requirements of both Indian and foreign tertiary institutions but may not have to apply separately to the two partner institutes. For dual degrees, students will need to apply and be admitted separately to both institutions. UGC has not yet released the fee structure for any of the courses. However, the Commission said the fee structure would be reasonable to make quality higher education accessible and affordable to all sections of society.

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