How Indian higher education degrees are recognised abroad and why engineering, medicine still lag behind?

Indian degrees are recognised by several foreign countries including the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, and Australia.

The foreign Higher Education Institutes may go by the reputation of Indian universities to consider recognition.
The foreign Higher Education Institutes may go by the reputation of Indian universities to consider recognition.

On the path of internationalisation of education under the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, Indian degrees are now recognised by several foreign countries which includes the United States (US), United Kingdom (UK), Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand among ohers. Earlier this year, Australia which became the first country to win a bid to open Deakin University’s offshore campus in India, inked an ‘education qualification recognition mechanism’ allowing the qualification of Indian students to be recognised abroad.  

In a conversation with FE Education Online, Arvind Chaturvedi, pro vice chancellor, IILM University, Gurugram and Radhika Shrivastava, executive director, Fortune Institute of International Business (FIIB), talk about technicalities of these collaborations. Edited Excerpts 

What are the parameters for the recognition of Indian degrees in foreign Higher Education Institutes (HEI)?

Arvind Chaturvedi: The foreign Higher Education Institutes go by the reputation of Indian universities/Institutions. But for institutions which are not very well-known, the criterion is official recognition.  The regulatory bodies which are used for this verification are University Grants Commission (UGC), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), National Medical Commission (earlier Medical Council of India), Bar Council. The top Indian accreditation agencies NAAC and NBA are also recognised by foreign HEIs and the parameters of these accreditation agencies are given some weightages by some.

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Radhika Shrivastava: This can involve a comparison of the curriculum, the length of the programme, and the level of study.

How can Indian HEIs meet the global education standards to get their degrees recognised by foreign HEIs and corporations?

Arvind Chaturvedi: The best route is to get globally recognised accreditation. In different disciplines there are globally recognised accreditation agencies, which follow a rigorous process and rigid standards. In management, for example, the three top accreditation agencies are AACSB (US based), AMBA (UK HQ) and  EQUIS ( largely European Union).  The three are called ‘triple Crown’. However 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.

Radhika Shrivastava: The focus should be on internationalisation, curriculum development, and quality of faculty to meet global standards. HEIs can promote internationalisation by collaborating with foreign universities, offering study abroad programmes, and hiring international faculty. They can 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. Furthermore, 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 to bring a global perspective to the institution and its programmes.

 Which Indian accreditation body is recognised by most foreign HEIs?

Arvind Chaturvedi: National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), National Board of Accreditation (NBA), AICTE and Association of Indian Universities (AIU), are among the Indian accreditation bodies recognised by foreign HEIs. But the kind of accreditation these agencies provide differs from one another. NAAC accredits an institution (normally universities/colleges), while NBA accredits programmes like M.Tech (Mechanical) or MBA. Similarly, AICTE approves programmes, while AIU provides equivalence to a non-degree programme like PGDM. Besides, UGC which is the main accreditation body from higher education in India is also recognized by many foreign HEIs. 

Why are some Indian professional degrees in engineering, medicine, among others, still not getting recognised by foreign HEIs and employers?

Arvind Chaturvedi: Many institutions and their degrees are very well recognised. The reasons are different from those which are not recognised.  The major issue is for medical degrees. This is because of syllabus, pedagogy, duration and internship. Mostly private sector HEIs in India suffer from this lack of recognition, but it cannot be generalised. To avoid this discrimination, many HEIs in the private sector are now heading for global accreditation. 

Can collaboration between accreditation bodies be impactful in uplifting the standards?

Radhika Shrivastava: Yes, collaborations between accreditation bodies can provide opportunities for sharing best practices, exchanging knowledge, and promoting internationalisation of Indian HEIs. As an example, such tie-ups can help Indian HEIs to align with international quality standards and practices. This can be especially important for Indian HEIs seeking recognition and acceptance of their degrees by foreign HEIs and employers. Collaboration with foreign accreditation bodies can help Indian HEIs to gain a better understanding of the global higher education landscape and adapt to changing international standards.

Arvind Chaturvedi: Merger or joint-operation of an Indian agency with a foreign one is unthinkable until the approach, procedures, parameters and rigour are same. There is a huge difference between Indian and foreign accreditation agencies’ approach and rigour. Parameters of accreditation are also different. Most of the global accreditation agencies have parameters which are objectively measurable. There is very little scope for subjectivity or any kind of manipulation.

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What are the key must-haves to get the accreditation and why is it that many institutions are falling short?

Arvind Chaturvedi: Every accreditation 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 important. Success is also reflected in good placements. For engineering or management programmes internship and industry connection is also important. Other factors which are important are diversity and inclusion, international connections in terms of students and faculty exchange, research, publications among others cannot be ignored.

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First published on: 04-05-2023 at 08:00 IST