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As part of the goal to internationalise and modernise higher education in the country, the Indian government recently introduced study abroad regulations that are to enhance cooperation between Indian and HEIs abroad and enable mutual recognition of credits. This will allow Indian students to go for an exchange abroad and get the accumulated credits recognised upon return to the home institution, and vice versa for their peers from partner institutions abroad.
Under the old regulations, only foreign institutions could apply to partner with Indian HEIs, but the new ones open the possibility for Indian universities and colleges to apply for international partnerships as well. Indian HEIs can now apply to University Grants Commission, the country’s funding and recognition authority, for approval of new or existing partnerships but - under the eligibility criteria that they hold top accreditation grades and have existed for at least 6 years.
The hope is that more mobility and partnerships between quality institutions in India and abroad will lead to more excellence in teaching and research. According to the words of the then-Minister responsible for education, Smriti Irani, the initiative is to bring manifold benefits to Indian higher education – it will not only enhance university cooperation but will also expose students to high-quality education abroad at a relatively low cost, something many of them would not be able to afford otherwise. Recruitment of international students is another benefit Indian universities hope for. The initiative addresses both undergraduate and graduate level students, with the difference that the minimum period abroad for the former is 2 semesters, while this minimum for graduate students is one semester. What is not yet in the picture, however, are joint degrees with foreign universities, so Indian institutions will remain the single degree awarding partners.
This widely embraced initiative was probably one of the last ones during Irani’s mandate, who was replaced already in early July as the Human Resource Development Minister and appointed at the Textiles Ministry. This, nevertheless, does not change the newly introduced regulations and the Government’s work on creating more quality partnerships and academic flows between India and foreign partners.