New Delhi: India has rejected a demand by the UK to treat its one-year master’s degree course on par with Indian master’s degrees.
Three days after British Prime Minister Theresa May declined to relax visa rules for Indians, human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar on Thursday said that Jo Johnson, the British minister of state for universities met him on Wednesday and discussed the issue but that he did not concede ground.
“It cannot happen like that,” Javadekar said on the sidelines of a higher education conference organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
Along with UK visa restrictions, India’s non-acceptance of the one-year master’s degrees granted by UK institutions is thought to be a key reason for a sudden drop in the number of Indian students in the UK.
The number of Indian students going to the UK has fallen sharply from over 18,500 in 2010-11 to around 11,000 now, causing a loss of revenue to British universities.
Javadekar said such recognition of one-year degrees should be mutual and that too only when other countries are doing so. “There has to be a multilateral acceptance as it otherwise (is not possible),” Javadekar said.
Jan Rembowski, a faculty member of Eurecom Campus Sophiatech, a technology institute in France, said his country too does not accept UK’s one-year master’s degree.
Javadekar said India is a member of the Washington Accord for acceptance of each other’s degrees in engineering by member nations and unless such a system is in place for normal master’s degrees, it will be tough to accept UK’s one-year degree.
A government official who declined to be named said that the response from the UK over visa relaxation earlier this month has made India dig its heels in on the UK degree issue.
“Education is vital for our students and will define our engagement in a shared future. We must therefore encourage greater mobility and participation of young people in educational and research opportunities,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi told a technology summit on Monday that he inaugurated jointly with May.
May said that the UK could yield ground on the demand for easing UK visa rules if Indians who overstayed their visas returned home more swiftly. “The UK will consider further improvements to our visa offer if, at the same time, we can step up the speed and volume of returns of Indians with no right to remain,” she told reporters in New Delhi the same day.