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New Degrees Granted UGC Recognition: Twinning, Joint, And Dual Degrees now offered In Collaboration With Foreign Universities

The UGC on 2 May 2022 overhauled the foreign academic collaboration regulations. The 2016 foreign academic collaboration regulations required UGC approval to introduce "twinning" programmes between Indian and foreign higher educational institutions. Nor did it recognize "dual degrees" or "joint degrees".

The University Grants Commission (Academic Collaboration between Indian and Foreign Higher Educational Institutions to offer Twinning, Joint Degree and Dual Degree Programmes) Regulations, 2022 is a marked departure. The 2022 regulations are inclusive, increase accessibility, reduce compliance requirements, and bring down both time and cost constraints. The new regulations have eased the norms for academic collaborations between premier Indian and foreign higher educational institutions.

Eligible institutions are now permitted to partner to offer various types of degrees such as Twinning Degrees, Joint Degrees and Dual Degrees, all without seeking UGC approval. Whereas under the 2016 regime, Indian institutions had to undergo a tedious process to seek regulatory approval for each proposed degree. Multiple rungs of the UGC would then review the information and either accept or reject such proposal. The approval route would inevitably lead to time delays and increased costs for the interested institutions.

The eligibility of such partner institutions will be determined through world renowned university rankings such as THE University Rankings or QS World Rankings, or NAAC or NIRF accreditation. The proposed categories of degrees are varied and aim at providing students with utmost flexibility. Twinning Degrees allow students to complete a part of their education abroad, with the final degree being issued solely by the Indian counterpart. On the other hand, Joint Degrees will be provided by both the Indian and foreign institutions, and the curriculum for the same is to be co-designed by the collaborating institutions.

Dual-Degrees, as is the norm outside India as well, will be awarded by each partner institution separately for the relevant time spent at each abode of higher education. For each of these offerings, credits earned at one institution will be recognized by the partner institution and contribute towards conferment of the ultimate degree. Interestingly, the UGC has explicitly barred these programmes from being offered through Online Learning or Distance Learning Modes.

Questions of equivalence have also been specifically addressed by the UGC. All degrees provided under these regulations will be specifically recognized under Section 22 of the UGC Act and will have the same weightage as any other degree offered by the Indian higher educational institutions. This is a huge step in assuring students of their prospects. Several institutions have in the past offered multiple academic collaboration with foreign institutions, however without UGC approval such degrees had questionable validity under Indian laws. The UGC has also created exit pathways for students who may be unable to complete such degrees. The collaborating institutions are required to provide details of possible exit options as well as provisions for future acceptance of credits.

To ease the admission process for foreign students to Indian Institutions, the regulations also require the Indian partner institution to set up an Office for International Affairs. This office shall deal with all matters pertaining to the collaboration, including maintaining records and information, liaising with regulatory bodies etc. To further boost confidence of incoming foreign students, the responsibility of dealing with all student grievances or any other legal matters lies with the Indian institution.

These changes are equally motivated by the larger vision of the National Education Policy 2020, which actively promotes foreign collaborations and envisions India to be a global study destination. The UGC has made many moves in this regard, including setting up the Education INdia Portal. The portal allows Indian higher education institutions to showcase their bona fides, and international students have the option to register themselves and browse details of the Indian higher educational institutions on a single platform. In order to ensure information symmetry, each partner institution is to ensure that all the information regarding such collaborative arrangements is published on their website, including complete fee structure, duration etc.

Reference:

  1. https://www.ugc.ac.in/pdfnews/5003871_Foreign-Collaboration-Regulations-2016-(1).pdf
  2. https://www.ugc.ac.in/pdfnews/4555806_UGC-Acad-Collab-Regulations.pdf
  3. https://www.education.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/NEP_Final_English_0.pdf

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