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Check on online 'phoren' degrees

Sunday, 16 July 2006 - 10:36pm IST
The human resource development ministry is working on a regulatory framework for foreign universities.

NEW DELHI: For all those seeking ‘foreign degrees’ sitting at home, here is a bit of news. The government is now planning to regulate all online courses offered by foreign universities or institutions to Indian students.


“The distance education council of the union human resource development (HRD) ministry is preparing a regulation in order to have some checks and balances on the online courses being offered by many international universities and institutes,” an official from the union Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry told DNA.


Since Indian laws prohibit foreign universities/institutes from awarding degrees on the Indian soil, a large number of foreign institutes are offering online courses to Indians, taking advantage of the lack of any regulatory mechanism in this field.


Recently, even prestigious universities like Harvard, Boston and Columbia announced admission for online courses which, interestingly, included master’s degrees in engineering, nanotechnology and applied science programmes. Besides the traditional streams, online degrees and certificates can now be earned in financial engineering, earth and environmental engineering, intelligent systems, new media engineering etc, all sitting at home. Even though online courses are poor cousins of on-campus courses, these universities and institutes are swearing on the quality of education and Indians are happily grabbing it. Many institutes are acting as facilitators who not only provide practicals but also conduct exams. But all this comes for a huge cost. For a master’s degree in engineering from Columbia University, an Indian student has to shell out roughly Rs17 lakhs ($35,000) while individual courses like nanotechnology etc cost between Rs1.5 lakh to Rs7 lakhs. “A lot of these courses are for skill enhancement and students cannot put it in their resume,” accepted Nagesh Singh, president of American Higher Education Inc, a company which is a service provider to a large number of American universities and institutions.


With their numbers growing steadily, the ministry feels that proper regulation is required. “The aim is to protect students from fake universities and certificates,” said an official of the ministry. Sources also hinted that the government is also thinking of charging license fee from institutes offering courses.




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