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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Towards quality assurance

Towards quality assurance

THE quality of international programmes offered to Indian students has become a matter of serious concern. The Bill on foreign institutions wanting to offer education in India is yet to be passed and statutory bodies like UGC, AICTE and NAAC suffer from a lack of coordination. In the meantime, the absence of any formal regulatory mechanism on international education has worked well in favour of profit-making institutes interested in making a quick buck without assuring quality returns.

Such issues were highlighted at a recent conference organised by the UK-India Education Research Initiative (UKIERI). It brought together quality assurance agencies from the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Malaysia to develop a framework to assure the quality of national and trans-national higher education programmes being provided.

"The increase in the number of students pursuing higher education has led to a rapid increase in the number of players offering education, putting immense pressure on maintaining the quality of both, national and trans-national programmes. Today, more than the money, it is important to protect the integrity of education," opined Martin Davidson, chief executive, British Council.

International quality assurance agencies claimed that they were doing their bit to ensure that when institutes from their country offer education abroad they provided the same quality of education. "But it is eventually in the hands of the individual institute to ensure the academic quality. We cannot assess whether the programme offered is modified according to the needs of the country where the programme is being offered," stated David Woodhouse, executive director, Australian Universities Quality Agency.

"At our end, we check whether the course in engineering and management offered by international institutes are certified and genuine. But unfortunately, not many good institutes come to India to offer international programmes. The one's we get charge exorbitant fees and trap students in the name of collaborative effort. They offer programmes that lure students to offer international placements after completing courses, which eventually never happens," informed Prasad Krishna, advisor (quality assurance), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

Analysing what India expects from international institutes in terms of quality, Ved Prakash, vicechancellor, NUEPA, said: "They should be allowed to offer programmes that are recognised in their own countries. Moreover, it is very important to see that the programme is modified according to the needs of the country it is being offered in, because education has to be contextual." Sukhdeo Singh Thorat, chairman, UGC, also agreed on the same issue in his paper, saying that foreign institutes should provide modified programmes contextual to the needs of Indians.

Sunil Sharma


Dil Se Desi Group

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