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Foreign degrees from India: What you need to know
Sonal D'Silva
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July 31, 2006

According to reports earlier this year, the Ministry of Human Resource Development moved to reverse India's decision on allowing foreign universities free entry into India. Talks were still on, but the move put the spotlight on the trend of an increasing number of students wanting to get a foreign degree without leaving the country.

Nagesh Singh, President, American Higher Education India (an organisation that works with top-ranked US universities and makes their programs available to users in India), explains the benefits of the organisation, "India is going through a massive shortage of quality higher education and faculty resources. These programs allow Indian students to learn from the best faculty from around the world and earn globally recognised degrees and certificates from the comfort of their own cities."

If you are interested in pursuing a foreign degree in India, we strongly suggest you do independent research before signing up for a course. Here are some points to guide your research.

Get online

The first step to getting more information is to explore the Web sites of universities you are interested in. Most organisations will have an online presence, so finding the site shouldn't be a problem. Look for information about:

Get in touch with their representatives and ask for brochures or detailed information to suit your needs.

Check accreditation

It is important to verify that the universities are legal and accredited by a recognised educational body. This is crucial to establish the validity of the degree you will eventually get. Says Mumbai-based study-abroad counsellor Karan Gupta, "There have been cases of students not getting jobs even after getting expensive foreign degrees in India, because the degrees weren't recognised."

According to the Association of Indian Universities (AIU), accredited foreign universities are listed in publications like the Commonwealth Universities Yearbook, International Handbook of Universities and World List of Universities (published by International Association of Universities, Paris, France [Images]), and the Accredited Institutions of Post Secondary Education in USA (An American Council on Education publication). These can be accessed at educational centres like the following:

Check ranking systems

Institutions often claim to be 'top-ranked'. However, you must remember that a ranking system does not work on a simple 'best or worst' scale. Universities are given ranks on a number of criteria, including published research, quality of teaching, media rankings, etc. Make sure you are aware of the criteria the ranking is based on first.

Compare local options

Next to your exploration of foreign degree options in India, also look at local universities to evaluate the programs offered. Don't dismiss this option without a thorough exploration.

Ask questions

Once you have done your background check, get in touch with representatives at the universities you are interested in. At this stage, it is important to ask questions. A lot of students are apprehensive about making a thorough enquiry for fear of sounding impolite. Dismiss this fear at once -- all you have to focus on is getting your doubts cleared. Says Gupta, "Some universities promise a lot of things, but do not deliver once you join." So, make sure you are clear about what is on offer.

Some of the key questions to ask include:

Consult a study-abroad counsellor

Many prospective students give up the idea of actually going abroad to study because they imagine it to be too expensive. A foreign degree from the comfort of their homes sounds like an option that gives them the best of both worlds. It would be advisable to consult an educational counsellor though, for a more realistic perspective.

If you do your homework well -- and you need to -- this may be an interesting, rewarding option. Be aware and do your research well though, before reaching a decision.

Have you studied at a foreign university in India? How good was the course? How expensive was it? Did it offer a placement scheme? Share your experiences

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