Flexibilities introduced in undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in the New Education Policy (NEP) will help Indian institutions gain educational equivalence abroad, promote two-way student mobility and help engineering graduates move to European countries for jobs, experts said.
In the most radical changes to Indian education in more than three decades, the government on Wednesday approved a rejig of UG and PG degrees, doing away with years of rigidity that saw colleges and universities sticking to a formulaic three-year Bachelor’s and a two-year Master’s degree.
This, in turn, influenced the job market but all of that could well be headed for a shake-up.
Experts said the new system will benefit those students who, for instance, would return to India after completing a one-year Master’s programme abroad but would struggle to find a job or a place in a university. People familiar with global schools said India earlier did not recognize a one-year Master’s, even from reputed institutions like Cambridge University and the London School of Economics.
They said the promise to allow leading foreign universities to come to India will also give students a bigger choice of education and institutions, including joint research or even close collaboration between departments in like-minded institutions of India and other countries.
At the Master’s level, the NEP promises both one-year and two-year PG degrees. And at the UG level, it allows students multiple exit and entry options, allowing degrees to be of both three and four years. It puts in place an academic ‘credit bank’ to allow learners to move from the classroom to the office and back.
“Yes, it will promote the mobility of students because degrees are now equivalent. The option of having one-year or two-year Master’s will largely bring Indian degrees on a par with degrees offered by several European countries," said Furqan Qamar, a former secretary-general of the Association of Indian Universities (AIU). AIU gives equivalence certificate to institutions and students wherever necessary.
“Especially students who used to come back from the UK after completing Master’s had a challenge. The new move is expected to help them," said Qamar, a former vice-chancellor of Central University in Himachal Pradesh.
“European countries largely offer a one-year Master’s in management streams. Now this will attract students. A two-way flow of students will happen, depending on who is offering the degree in India and what kind of countries they are targeting in Europe. I think the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and other top B-Schools will start offering one-year degrees without facing legal hassles or pressure from education regulators. One-year Master’s degrees are a good option for professionals," said S.S. Mantha, former chairman of the All Indian Council of Technical Education (AICTE).
To be sure, for unfettered employment mobility, the quality, efficiency and job readiness of Indian graduates will remain an important factor.
Mantha, who interacted with several European countries on equivalence when he headed AICTE, said that other than management, this may also help engineers’ mobility from India to Europe for employment.
“They need to clarify this Master’s degree part better and I think India with a surplus of engineers can benefit."