India protects degree market

January 24, 1997

FOREIGN universities trying to gatecrash the Indian higher education market have discovered that their degrees will not be recognised.

The ministry has warned students that they sign up at foreign universities at their own risk and the University Grants Committee plans to prepare a "code of conduct" to regulate their activities.

The move follows a feverish attempt by British, Australian and Canadian universities and professional colleges to enter the market in the wake of economic liberalisation which has relaxed foreign exchange restrictions.

Leading newspapers have been flush with advertisements for courses in business management, computer sciences and engineering. Target groups are children of the English-speaking elite in the cities of New Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta and Madras.

The response has been overwhelming, but the government is displeased. Officials in the education ministry say that they are flooded with inquiries from parents, students and heads of Indian universities about the status of the degrees/diplomas awarded by foreign institutions.

They want to know if these would be recognised by Indian universities for admission to higher courses and whether employers would accept them as legitimate currency.

"Unless a university has a bilateral agreement with an Indian institution or the arrangement is covered by our educational protocols with these countries we have nothing to do with them," the education ministry said .

Armaity Desai, chair of the UGC, said that the UGC is opposed to the "unrestricted entry" of foreign universities. Until the code is implemented, it is entirely a private matter between the universities and their "clients".

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