Twinning courses: Study in India & abroad!
Urmila Rao, 06 Jan 2014
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Visiting historial places like the Polish capital Warsaw helps to enhance the vision of students

IN 2005, Pranav Das clearedB.Techfrom Indraprastha University and joined Ansal Institute of Technology (AIT), Gurgaon, to pursue Master’s in Computer Sciences. One of the reasons for choosing AIT was its twinning programme options. AIT had collaborated with four US colleges, out of which a student could choose one and study partly in the US.

The concept of twinning programmes started in India in 1995. It’s an arrangement under which students can complete part of their studies in India and the rest in a foreign college. Foreign educators prefer adopting twinning mode to operate in India because they have least stakes and maximum income. Indian students, on the other hand prefer twinning because the total cost is less in exchange for a foreign degree and international exposure. The net expenditure is also lower than a course undertaken abroad.

Pranav chose North Dakota State University, probably the best of the four colleges AIT had tied up with. He not only went on to complete his Master’s but also applied for PhD. Into the fifth year in the US, he is glad to have undertaken a twinning programme.

Twinning can be a great way of obtaining a foreign degree, especially in times of economic slowdown, but there are caveats that you must be aware of.
 
Quality
There are growing concerns about the quality of foreign institutions that domestic colleges are collaborating with for twinning programmes. “We hear a lot of institutions from the UK, USA and Australia are coming to India, but not many French and German colleges. Why?” wonders Dr. Pritam Singh, Director General, International Management Institute (IMI). If factors like visibility, courtesy and English language lead people into thinking that UK/USA colleges are good, then that is largely because of perception rankings published in English, he says, adding that such rankings make for distorted projections by leaving out good European colleges.

Institutions in different streams such as engineering, management, design and others are delivering twinning programmes. Among the new colleges, ECube Global College, Mumbai, has an arrangement with Newcastle University, UK in three engineering disciplines. Lovely Professional University has twinning linkages in BSc Hotel management, MBA and others with University of Missouri, USA, Thames Valley University, UK and Warsaw University of Technology, Poland.

Students must check the credentials of foreign colleges before enrolling. “It’s a myth that all American and UK institutions are good,” says Dr. Singh. European colleges also need verification. Students, therefore, must cross-check whether the foreign degree they wish to obtain has real value or just paper value.

VISA factor
Most twinning programmes assume that students will obtain the visa. Some colleges don’t have a contingency plan in case visa application is rejected. In the second year of its operations, Ecube Global College is still mulling introducing alternative options for visa rejects. It is extremely difficult to obtain visa on re-application. Nitin Gupta, a batchmate of Pranav, has letters of acceptance from six US colleges, but he has not been able to obtain visa sanction. “The officials never give reason for rejecting me,” says a visibly upset Nitin.

A student must check what alternative source of education the domestic college has worked out if this kind of situation surfaces. “In case a student is denied visa, he/she could continue with their course at LPU,” says Aman Mittal, Deputy Director, LPU.

 

 
 
 
 Twinning is a good alternative to a full programme provided you are able to avoid the pitfalls in an otherwise beautiful package  
 
 
 

Rejection
What if the foreign partner does not invite you to its college for twinning?  Foreign college can reject you if you have not fulfilled the required academic parameters at home shores. “Had I not obtained 3.0 GPA or Grade Point Average, I would have been rejected,” says Pranav. ND State University, not considered among the top-league US colleges, however, is bound by academic procedures and rejects students if they don’t qualify the benchmark.

Students gain acceptance only if they have English language proficiency and an enabling financial stature. At the time of admission, either IELTS or TOEFL clearance is asked, though some colleges may also ask for GRE. The financial status is also evaluated. You also need to have enough assets against which bank loan can be obtained.

Academic enrichment
While quality of a college is a major consideration, equally important is the programme for which linkages happen. The learner must ask if the arrangement is bringing any real value in terms of learning. Is the management college offering twinning in, let’s say entrepreneurial programme, linking with the best in this field?  

Another notable aspect is the international exposure and developing a  well-rounded personality. Educomp-Raffles which offers twinning in seven programmes, allows students to choose from 12 destinations including Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, China, Thailand and others. “The course curriculum is standardised and the degree awarded is from Raffles College of Commerce and Design, Australia,” says Harpreet Singh, executive director, Educomp Raffles. Under twinning, the courses studied in India are monitored and evaluated by the foreign collaborator. In ECube Global College, virtual access to Newcastle University library is allowed to students while in India.

Regarding academic enrichment, check out which all colleges accept your credits, if you prefer further studies in another college abroad. Pranav required 90 credit points to pursue his PhD. He could transfer 30 from his Master’s programme at Dakota. However, of the total 60 required, he could manage 45 from the research work and 15 points from the enrolled course. “Most established colleges’ credits scores are accepted by other colleges,” says Sidharth Balakrishna, an IIM-C alumnus.

Pros & Cons of Twinnings programmes
 

Cons

  • If you don’t have the required qualification, you will not be accepted for twinning by the foreign college.
     
  • If you have any query, write to the college and obtain information. Most websites have names and email ids of faculty members who can be directly addressed.
     
  • Know the college you are going to, know the country, its climate and its culture. It will help you settle down faster.

  • Be self-dependent, flexible and adaptable to the new methods of teaching.
     
  • Jobs are hard to come by in these days of economic downturn, so be prepared that you may not be working.
     
  • There may have been omission of some crucial information.  For instance, in USA you need to keep USD 1000-1500 for health insurance which is a must. That adds to the total cost and one must set aside extra money for such necessities, says Pranav.
     

Pros

  • Helps you obtain a foreign university degree at a lower cost. Says Sandeep Goneka on ECube College twinning expenditure, “The total fees , including living expenses, averages to Rs. 45 lakhs for three years in the UK, but in twinning it is reduced to Rs. 25-26 lakhs.”
     
  • Provides international exposure.
     
  • Feeling of isolation is less in a foreign country because batchmates also go along with you. “Students feel more at ease and hence are able to concentrate on their studies better,” maintains Sandeep.
     






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