Touria Prayag's Blog

Education and masala 5 December 2013

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on January 23, 2015

Our discussions about tertiary education
this week have been revolving around juicy
snippets published in Indian newspapers.
What is worrying is that these salacious
tidbits are increasingly framing the debate,
thus detracting us from real issues.
In an article entitled “Fraud Campus
broke rules in both Mauritius and India”,
our colleagues from India suggest that the
EIILM campus in Mauritius is illegal, that
the degrees are not awarded by the Indian
university and that “even institutes that have
been set up off-shore campuses legally are
not allowed to give an Indian degree”. If this
is the case, then India must be unique in the
world. In every other country we know where
universities have set up campuses abroad,
the mother university not only awards degrees
but the students studying in its offshore
campuses can also choose to graduate
on the main campus or even swap and study
there for part of their course if they so wish.
In fact, in Mauritius, there is no private
tertiary education institution which is allowed
to award its qualifi cations. The parent
universities are the only awarding bodies.
In the case of the EIILM, the degree
certifi cates we have seen were indeed awarded
by Sikkim University and signed by its
vice-chancellor. Now, if these qualifi cations
are not accepted in India, that must be an
Indian problem. They are accepted in the
rest of the world and a number of students
we have contacted have been able to secure
places for postgraduate courses in the UK
and France. Maybe India has better regulations
than Europe!
The role of the University Grants Commission
(UGC) in India and how much
power it has in regulating universities there
and abroad, is not clear. Out of the 145 private
universities in India, by December
2012, only 53 were actually checked by the
UGC. Astoundingly, out of these 53, only
fi ve – yes, fi ve – were found by the UGC to
be ‘in order’. Never mind the fact that even
postgraduate programmes from UK universities
setting up shop in India have faced the
same problems of non-recognition.
Now, hear us out here: we have not gone
to the extent of saying that Sikkim University
has a good reputation in India – far from
it – or that it is dispensing good quality
courses. What we are saying is that that
should be the debate. For that to happen, we
need to move away from politicking and
half-truths and open a debate about the
universities we should be allowed to tap to
set up campuses in Mauritius. We are not
likely to live up to the ambition of becoming
a quality knowledge hub if we do not have
stringent rules – as they do in countries like
Malaysia and Singapore – to control the
quality of education we give our local students
and the regional ones we are hoping
to attract. Our focus, therefore, should be
on all the tertiary education institutions
which are mushrooming on our island and
how to regulate them.
Cheap politics damage our reputation,
that of our own students and detract us
from what we consider the real issues:
whether we should set standards when it
comes to the universities setting up campuses
on our shores or we should be allowed
to scrape the barrel. Instead of cheap
politics and bad press, that is the only
debate that we should be interested


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