A cut above the rest.

A cut above the rest.


There is a heated debate going on presently over the merits of the entry of foreign universities into India. While some IITs and IIMs have welcomed the move, a section of the academia has opposed the Foreign Educational Institution (Regulation of Entry and Operation) Bill, 2010.

Much of the opposition is based on speculations that foreign education providers (FEPs) may produce 'a class of persons Indian in blood and colour but English in taste, opinion, moral and intellect'. There are also concerns that foreign universities will only cater to the needs of the elite by offering courses in management, financing, engineering, medicine, etc.

These fears are not without basis. However, there is no empirical evidence to prove the case.  There are already a number of FEPs that work in collaboration with Indian universities and colleges and offer a variety of need-based courses. Also, hundreds of Indian students who have graduated from foreign universities have excelled in their fields and are striving for the betterment of our country.

There are a number of advantages to studying in a foreign university. First of all, professionalism and accountability shown by the staff are worth a mention. So are great academic atmosphere, learning culture and research environment the prevails in many foreign universities. Prior to the commencement of the study, teachers prepare their students academically by orienting them on effective reading, writing for academic purposes, managing time, making the best of lectures, using the library and other resources available on the university campus, etc.

Also, the staff provides rich academic guidance and support to its students. They are encouraged to present papers in seminars and conferences and publish articles in reputed journals. Students are encouraged to undertake original research studies under the guidance of expert supervisors.

Foreign universities offer a variety of modules for study. For example, if a student is doing a Master's course in Applied Linguistics, he/she can choose from a wide range of modules such as Second Language Acquisition, Communicative and Pedagogic Grammar, Culture and the Language Learner, Issues in Language Testing, Sociolinguistics, Bilingualism, History of English, Critical Discourse Analysis, Corpus Linguistics, etc. In addition, inter-disciplinary studies are encouraged in foreign universities. A student can do an MA in Media, Film and Cultural Studies by opting modules related to Linguistics, Sociology, History or Religious studies.

Interestingly, foreign universities offer a diverse range of contemporary and professionally relevant courses such as MA in English Language Teaching, MA in Creative Writing, MA in Teacher Education, MA in Conflict, Development and Security, MA in Globalisation and the Information Age, MA in Bioethics and Medical Law, etc. There are also various staff-student research groups in each of the departments for sharing research projects, conducting workshops, expert talks and sharing recent developments in the field.

Another area in which foreign universities stand out from their counterparts in India is the detailed critical feedback given by tutors on written assignments of their students. The feedback received is very useful in developing students’ argumentative skills, understanding of issues and problems, depth of analysis and discussion, referencing conventions, quality of English, etc.

Also, student experience surveys are conducted every year. Students' feedback on their tutors' performance is considered seriously and necessary changes are made to the course based on the responses of students.

Moreover, technology is made the best use of in many foreign universities. There is a virtual learning site where students will have full access to study materials and online discussions.

Foreign universities also place great emphasis on student experience. The staff pride themselves on building relationships with every student. A student who has studied in a foreign university is generally happy and satisfied with his/her experience and hence joins the alumni group and continues his/her association with the university. 

Ultimately, whether it is an Indian or a foreign university, what matters most is the opportunities students get to enhance their qualifications, broaden their experiences and improve their career prospects. Universities should offer a wide range of degrees and programmes with some flexibility so that a student can broaden his subject knowledge and generic skills, and tailor his degree to match his interests.

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