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Bridge course after 1-year UK degree

New Delhi, Nov. 12: Students with one-year UK master’s degrees will have to complete a bridge course of six months in India to make their qualifications valid for further academic pursuits or government jobs here.

The master’s degree is awarded by Indian institutions after a two-year course.

The University Grants Commission (UGC), India’s higher education regulator, has finalised a module for the six-month bridge course, the move coming ahead of British Prime Minister David Cameron’s India visit this week.

The bridge course will be offered at select universities to enable students cover the required course content for validating their foreign degrees, sources in the HRD ministry and the UGC said.

India does not recognise one-year degrees. Nearly 25,000 Indian students are currently pursuing master’s in the UK, most of them one-year courses. Such students face difficulties in getting teaching jobs in government colleges when they return home.

The UK authorities have long demanded equivalence for the one-year degrees in India. The UK Higher Education International Unit and the UK-India Education and Research Initiative had a study conducted on the issue.

The National Recognition Information Centre (NARIC), the British agency which carried out the study, said the one-year master’s degree was like the two-year degrees offered by Indian universities, and should be considered valid.

The study used several criteria such as learning outcomes, course duration, content, research requirements, assessment methods and quality.

The HRD ministry set up another committee to examine the NARIC findings. That committee rejected the suggestions saying Indian degrees covered a wider curriculum, including a larger number of core subject areas.

The matter was discussed during the visit of Cameron earlier this year, and both countries agreed to the bridge course mechanism. The ministry then asked the UGC to suggest modalities for the course.

The Association of Indian Universities, the agency that gives equivalence to foreign degrees, has accepted the UGC formula.

After completing the bridge course, students can pursue further studies or appear for the National Eligibility Test, conducted by the UGC to appoint assistant professors in universities and colleges.

“We are very proud to have Indian master’s students in the UK and we want them to be able to progress to post-graduate study back in India. We are working closely with the HRD (ministry) and the UGC to achieve this and have seen fruitful discussions at the highest level,” said Gemma Townley, head of communications in the UK’s Higher Education International Unit.

The one-year UK master’s degrees are not the only contentious ones. India also does not recognise three-year engineering and one-year MBA degrees of UK universities, said sources in All India Council of Technical of Technical Education, the country’s technical education regulator. But the UK has not yet taken up this issue.