India, Australia education ties: Recognition of VET by India is a big step for Indian students

That Australia has emerged as one of the most-favoured overseas destinations for higher studies was once again highlighted during the visit of the country’s minister for education and training, Christopher Pyne, and ambassador for Australian education in India, cricketer Adam Gilchris.

That Australia has emerged as one of the most-favoured overseas destinations for Indian students for higher studies was once again highlighted during the visit of the country’s minister for education and training, Christopher Pyne, and the first ambassador for Australian education in India, cricketer Adam Gilchrist, last week.

Announcing to reporters in Delhi that 48,500 Indian students had already gone to Australia from India this year for higher education, minister Pyne said that his government was looking at expanding educational ties with India to research collaborations between top institutions in both the countries as well as linking schools in India and Australia.

“While the number of Indian students in Australia is growing at around 15% annually, we would also like to build a stronger relationship between educational institutions in both the countries,” the minister said. A significant development during minister Pyne’s visit was the announcement that the Indian government will soon recognise pathways and foundation courses offered by Australian colleges.

The memorandum of understanding signed between Pyne and human resource development minister Smriti Irani will now facilitate credit transfers and mutual recognition of qualifications between the two countries.

The recognition of Australian pathways and foundation courses in the vocational education & training (VET) sector by India is a big step for Indian students who choose to return to work in India or take up further studies.

“Recognition of qualifications from Australia in the pathways and technical and further education (TAFE) streams will provide flexibility to both Indian students as well as Australian institutions,” Pyne said.

The providers of VET in Australia include TAFE institutes, adult and community education providers and agricultural colleges as well as private providers, community organisations, industry skill centres, and commercial and enterprise training providers.

In addition, some universities and schools also provide VET. The sector, which is crucial to Australia both for the development of the national workforce and as a major export industry, is supported through a network of eight state and territory governments and the Australian government, along with industry, public and private training providers.

These organisations work together to provide nationally consistent training across Australia. Significantly, of the total number of Indian students who enrolled in Australian institutions between January and June 2015, a sizeable percentage joined vocational education & training courses.

In fact, 20,189 Indian students chose to join VET courses. Most sought-after subjects for VET among Indian students in Australia were management and commerce; food, hospitality and personal services; engineering and related technologies; information technology and health. “About half the cohort of Indian students in Australia join vocational courses.

The Australian VET system is very strong and is designed to address workplacespecific skills requirement of different industries. There is a strong connect between the Australia’s VET and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of building a skilled workforce in India,” minister Pyne said. He added that the number of Indian students in Australia was growing and was now second only to China.

“We welcome Indian students to Australia and feel that international students are the best ambassadors for our country. Besides providing a channel for soft diplomacy, Indian students also add to the multicultural mix in our classrooms,” he said.

The Australian government’s post-study work visas for international students who complete university degrees in Australia enables international graduates to gain practical work experience after they graduate and enhance their overall international study experience.

On completion of studies, a student can, under the subclass 485 visa category, work in Australia fulltime for a period of 18 months to four years (depending on their level of studies) along with an option of applying for permanent residency.

“While this programme is a big incentive for Indian and other international students after they complete their masters, bachelors or doctorate degrees in Australia, they are also allowed to work 20 hours a week during their courses,” the minister said.

During minister Pyne’s visit, Australia’s Group of Eight (G8) universities had also sent their representatives to India as part of the education delegation. Under a new agreement, the G8 universities will work towards attracting more top students from India.


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Awaiting UGC nod, KSOU puts off admission process

MYSURU: The Karnataka State Open University (KSOU), whose courses have been derecognized by the University Grants Commission (UGC), has postponed its admission process. It wants to get the UGC recognition for its courses before admitting students.
The admissions were supposed to start in July.

On June 16, UGC secretary Jaspal S Sandhu sent a public notice saying KSOU had blatantly flouted its norms, guidelines and directives and that the courses offered by the university after 2012-13 were not recognized.

After the news broke, lakhs of students who had got admission to courses in KSOU rushed to the university seeking explanations.

Subsequently, KSOU vice-chancellor MG Krishnan visited the UGC headquarters in New Delhi to clear their doubts. He also met SP Goyal, joint secretary, department of higher education, union ministry of human resources development, and explained the situation.

“While the KSOU used to update the state higher education minister and the governor about its admission process, courses, students and other details, it failed to submit any details to UGC in the past three years,” source said.

The UGC has now called for a meeting with vice chancellors and registrars of all recognised universities in the state, including KSOU, University of Mysore, Kuvempu University and Gulbarga University to discuss various issues including recognition for courses. It has demanded that KSOU submit all the details pertaining to its admission process, courses and others by August end.

“We are expecting a positive response from the UGC after the meeting. We hope to start the admissions by September 20. Students will be given time till the end of January, 2016 to join our courses,” sources said adding that around 5 lakh students are already pursuing various courses in KSOU.

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More educational opportunities for foreigners in India!

The government is planning to open its education and legal services to foreigners and liberalizing education, which is a move aimed at boosting the country’s services sector. Explaining the country’s approach to open education sector, Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia suggested opening online courses to make it better accessible across communities and countries.

About opening legal services for foreign players, she said the Commerce Ministry’s intention is to work with Bar Council of India (BCI) to move in a direction which is in tandem with the policies of both. The government is also in consultation with the Society for Indian Law Firms for this. The Department of Commerce built with stakeholders aims at allowing multi-professional firms to come in, and to allow them to increase size of the firms. “So, these could be early stage reforms. Once we do that, in the next stage we can have consultation with the BCI,” said Rita in a statement to PTI.

Opening up of these two sectors is under discussion of the Committee of Secretaries. The UK and the US have been pushing India to open up the sector to foreign firms.

The Advocates Act, which is administered by the BCI, provides for foreign lawyers or law firms to visit India on a reciprocal basis for temporary periods to advise their clients on foreign law and diverse international legal issues.


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Govt launches education loan portal

NEW DELHI: The government on Thursday said it has a launched the website ‘’ for students seeking educational loans. Five banks, including SBI, IDBI Bank and Bank of India, have integrated their system with the portal.”Vidya Lakshmi was launched on the occasion of Independence Day for the benefit of students seeking educational loans,” a finance ministry release said.

The portal has been developed and maintained by NSDL e-governance infrastructure limited (NSDL e-Gov) under the guidance of department of financial services in the finance ministry, department of higher education, ministry of human resource development and Indian Banks Association (IBA).

Finance minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech for 2015-16 had proposed to set up a fully IT-based student financial aid authority to administer and monitor scholarships as well as educational loan schemes through Pradhan Mantri Vidya Lakshmi Karyakram(PMVLK).

It is aimed to ensure that no student misses out on higher education for lack of funds, said the release., adding that the launch of the portal is the first step towards achieving this objective. “Vidya Lakshmi Portal is the first of its kind portal providing single window for students to access information and make applications for educational loans provided by banks as also government scholarships,” it added.

The portal will provide information about educational loan schemes of banks, common educational loan application form for students, facility to apply to multiple banks for educational loans, and facility for banks to download students’ loan applications.It also has facility for banks to upload loan processing status, facility for students to email grievances/queries relating to educational loans, dashboard facility for students to view status of their loan application and linkage to National Scholarship Portal for information and application for government scholarships.

Finance ministry said so far 13 banks have registered 22 educational loan schemes on the Vidya Lakshmi Portal and five banks — SBI, IDBI Bank, Bank of India, Canara Bank and Union Bank of India have integrated their system with the portal for providing loan processing status to students.

“This initiative aims to bring on board all banks providing educational loans. It is expected that students throughout the country will be benefited by this initiative of the government by making available a single window for access to various educational loan schemes of all banks,” said the release further.



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100 candidates complete training in digital literacy

About 100 persons, most of them women, who underwent a 15-day training in digital literacy under the National Digital Literacy Mission (NDLM) were awarded certificates here on Friday.

The NDLM aims at helping adults with low technological literacy to develop the skills essential for interacting in an increasingly digital world. It seeks to empower at least one person per household with digital literacy skills by 2010 and reach out to move then 250 million individuals over the next five year. The NDLM programme was being conducted by the Capgemini Business Services India Pvt. Ltd., in association with Nasscom Foundation and Global Talent Track.


The 20-hours of training was conducted at the Capgemini NDLM Centre in Tiruchi with the participants being provided training in basic operation of computers, social media, online ticketing, and shopping. The training included various activities and practical sessions.

The participants were in the age group of 30 to 45 hours and most them were school dropouts from communities in and around Tiruchi.

On Friday, the first batch were awarded certificates in the presence of Nitin Suvarna, Vice-President, Capgemini, Bangalore, Vikram Kannoth, Director (Finance), Uma Ganesh, CEO, Global Talent Track, and Santosh Abraham, Vice-President, Nasscom Foundation.


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Can the marking system in Indian education lead to an ‘economic disaster’ in future?

There is nothing more tragic than watching a champion stumble—that is how most parents feel when their elation slumps into despair, even anger, as their child who got 85% marks cannot secure admission in any of the good colleges.

Then it dawns on some parents that the marking system has been unfair. And this, is what calls for a historical perspective.

The marking system in India was never very fair–especially after the 1970s, when the examination process began becoming more and more populist year after year.

Examiners for the SSC Board or the University Examinations were well aware that even if papers were evaluated fairly, scores were often changed by a district moderator, when going through the marks given by the various examiners that he was supposed to ‘moderate’. If he found one examiner had more students failing, he had the discretion to increase the marks of these ‘failed’ students, so that the number of failures for all examiners were ‘normalised’. Computers weren’t around, so only those who failed received grace marks.

Then suddenly the grace began to become a disgrace.

After the district moderators sent in their results, zonal moderators compared marks that each moderator had cleared. If one moderator still had more failures, his ‘list of shame’ was “propped up” with a few more grace marks. Finally, there were the state level moderators, who performed their own acts of grace. Astute educationists, even then, knew that a child with just 15% marks could be ‘graced’ all the way up to 35%.

Fast forward to today. During the past two years, engineering colleges were supposed to take in students only from the merit list of the all-India examination for high school students. To give state level examinations some ‘dignity’, so they wouldn’t be deemed redundant, courts allowed state governments to let state level examinations enjoy 30% weightage in the common entrance scores. And this, is where the race towards the dumbing down of scores began.

Till around 2010, there was a general agreement that the best reflection of a student’s academic excellence came through the scores of CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Examinations). Then came the IISC/ICSE, and then SSC. The last was conducted by the state education boards. As local politicians did not want to watch their boys and girls flunk, the largest chunk of grace marks always went to students appearing for SSC examinations.

Now, with the 30% weightage system, both CBSE and IISC/ICSE administrators realised that SSC students would benefit and secure better marks for getting into engineering colleges. So both boards decided to give marks as liberally as the SSC board. Year after year, as each board raced along the downward spiral trying to ensure that their students were not disadvantaged.

The most disadvantaged were students from states like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, where the average quality of schooling has always been better than in most other states. Though the quality of students from these states was better, when it came to a national moderation of scores, a 90% from these states was clubbed with a 90% from other states, where the schooling was not as effective. Thus, better students were marginalised. Jonathan Swift would have called this the rule of the Yahoos!

Now, with credits for sports and social work, it is possible for students to score 105% or 110% marks. The eventual consequence, is that students are made to believe they are outstanding— having scored 85%—when they might actually be mediocre, if not worse. This inflated sense of achievement makes them stumble even more easily when it comes to the competitive world of jobs.

Worse still, is the decaying academic standard, which has made almost every assessing organisation–McKinseys, TCS, Nasscom and IMBM—point out that barely 15-20% of students who graduate are employable. Yes, they have the marks. But they are poorly equipped to take on corporate responsibilities because their schooling has been bad.

Third, and more serious, is the progressive dumbing down of education at college levels – because students cannot cope with the standards that college students must have. As a result, universities across the world have begun to de-recognise the scores of Indian educational bodies.

But, the most serious issue is the inevitable ‘elite-isation’ of education. The poor examination system has ensured that school teachers can afford to stay mediocre, as their inefficiencies are not captured through examination results. Consequently, good education remains the privilege of those whose parents are well read, and can teach them at home. Alternatively, the benefits go to the children of rich parents, who can afford private tutors to compensate for the inadequacies of the schooling system. Not surprisingly then, survey after survey of IITs and IIMs shows that over 80% of the students enrolled are from the upper middle class. This will only increase the working class/management divide with dire consequences for our economic future.

That is when disgrace becomes a disaster.




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