The recent announcement of the Human Resource Development Ministry to introduce a six-month bridge course for those who completed one-year post-graduate courses in the UK has received sharp reactions from students and experts.
While some were of the opinion that efforts were finally being made to recognise their degrees here, most others felt that they were unfairly being made to wait for an additional six months before they can take the next step in their career.
Those who have completed their post graduation in the UK, it is a prerequisite to take the bridge course in order to further pursue their academics in India or if they want to land a job in the government sector. The issue also assumes significance as it comes ahead of British Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to India. An estimated 26,000 Indian students pursue their master’s degrees in the UK.
Many students who have completed their PG degrees in the UK feel this move would pose an unnecessary hurdle, resulting in time being wasted in proving the validity of their degree.
Anna Verghese, who is currently studying in London, said many of her Indian classmates who are eager to return home and work for a while before taking up PhD may have to abandon their plans. “Now such persons will have to think twice before choosing to return home to work. Six months is too long a time period to be wasted just to validate your degree,” she said.
Her views strike a chord with Vidya S (name changed), who studies in University of Sussex. She feels that although the stance of the government has improved since the time when it did not even recognise the degree, the bridge course could end up discouraging many. “The loss could be significant for those who are compelled to return to India and work. Not all who study in the UK are from well-to-do families. They borrow huge sums to meet their educational expenses.”
Many also feel the move would lead to less students going to the UK for higher studies. Noted educationist and former vice-chancellor of Anna University, Dr E Balaguruswamy, said,“More students will be forced to look for other places to study, as the UK isn’t a particularly good place for education. Save for a few universities, many others are dubious and are dependent entirely on Asians, and in particular Indian students.” However, on the positive side of the move, he said, with the quality of education in many UK institutions being questionable, this could be a way to introduce some sort of a check. “The bridge course could be due to a quest for equivalence,” he added.
Education counsellor Jaiprakash Gandhi concurred. He says students would now look at other destinations. “Although this would result in an initial reduction of students going to the UK, things would stabilise after a while,” he said.
He said one of the reasons for the bridge course being introduced is the curriculum in UK institutions not being broad based. “The bridge course, as I see it, is a must for those pursuing management and technical education courses, however, other courses could be exempted,” he added.
This could also mean that problems due to lack of recognition to courses could become a thing of the past.