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India’s top universities, colleges to get flexibility for foreign collaborations

New Delhi: The Union government is set to give flexibility and considerable freedom to top universities and colleges to have foreign academic and research collaborations.

The top 100 institutions in the national ranking or a place among the top 500 in the global ranking are among the rules, which will allow top universities to go for foreign collaboration through an automatic route, the university grants commission has said in its draft rules.

The carrot and stick formula — will push Indian institutes to improve their quality assessment, ranking, and enjoy the freedom to have foreign collaboration, a move that is beneficial in many ways. Else, face tougher scrutiny, trust deficit and inherent red-tape.

The draft rules, once finalised and implemented, would pave the way for better cooperation and collaboration between Indian institutes and foreign institutes, a long-pending desire of the Indian higher education sector.

The draft rules come weeks after the union budget 2021-22 mentioned that to “promote enhanced academic collaboration with foreign higher educational institutions, it is proposed to put in place a regulatory mechanism to permit dual degrees, joint degrees, twinning arrangements and other such mechanisms”.

The draft rules of the higher education regulator, says that it will allow credit recognition and transfer; joint degree programme; dual degree programme and twining arrangements.

About the automatic route, the draft rules have said that “to be considered under automatic mode, the collaborating higher education institutions must” be accredited by National Assessment and Accreditation Council with a minimum score of 3.01 on a scale of four 4, or it “must figure in the top 100 in University category of National Institutional Ranking Framework”. Besides, if the institution is one of the Institutes of eminence (IOE) under the world class university initiative then they will be eligible to have the collaboration with the top 500 universities list of Times Higher Education World University Ranking or QS World University ranking.

The draft rules said the Indian higher education Institution must have an office for International Affairs which shall function as single point contact and will be responsible for carrying out all collaborative activities. Initially the regulator will allow having collaborations for a period of five years.

An expert committee shall consider the proposal taking into various factors including the credibility of the foreign institutions, research profile and quality of academic program offered among other issues. And most of the procedures will be done online thus removing physical visits and inspections among other such requirements. The draft rules, have however, underlined that no programme of study or research shall be offered which is against the national security and territorial integrity of India.

India has been talking about improving opening up of its higher education sector to allow foreign varsities to set up campuses here, and allow Indian varsities go abroad. Besides, the government has been talking about its ambitious plan to attract 200,000 foreign students to India, more than four times the current number. The new national education policy has also underlined the value of foreign collaborations, and joint degree and research arrangements.

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