Divyansh|Nov 7, 2023
How twinning, transfer programmes let students study abroad at half the cost
Study Abroad: MAHE Manipal, VIT Vellore, TIET’s twinning, transfer programmes allow students a foreign degree at about half the cost of a full course.
NEW DELHI: Dinkar S Kashyap graduated with a double degree in aerospace and mathematics with honours in biomechanics in 2021, having completed half his programme in India and the rest in Australia. Originally a student of the International Centre for Applied Sciences (ICAS) Manipal, Kashyap aspires to be a biomechanical scientist with expertise in cell and molecular modelling.
Kashyap studied the third and fourth years of his programme at the University of Adelaide, Australia, an opportunity made available by Manipal University’s transfer programme. Kashyap aims to join a postgraduate programme next and all options he’s interested in are in Australia. “I am not sure where exactly I will do my post-graduation but perhaps Monash University, the University of Queensland or Australian National University,” he said.
Manipal started the international transfer programme in 1994. “It was started with the objective of providing international education and exposure to Indian students,” said Hareesha KS, professor, the department of data science and computer applications.
Now, several private universities offer twinning and transfer programmes through collaborations with foreign institutions. SRM university, Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), and Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology (TIET) all offer programmes involving time spent in a foreign, partner institution.
The higher education regulator, the University Grants Commission (UGC), in May 2022 framed a set of regulations allowing such programmes. After the announcement, at least 48 universities reportedly showed interest in collaborating with Indian institutions on twinning programmes.
Twinning, transfer, collaboration
A thin line of difference exists between transfer and twinning programmes. In the first, the transfer to a foreign institution after the first two years is optional and a student can also complete their studies at the parent institution and graduate with an Indian university degree. If they do go abroad, on completion of the programme, the student is awarded the degree by the foreign university.
Unlike the transfer programme, in the twinning system, students don’t have the freedom to opt out of the two years abroad. Students have to declare which foreign university they are interested in going to at the time of admission and they are held to that promise. Not being able to go is akin to dropping out.
“There can be various unseen issues like that of financial distress with the family of the student or COVID and a war kind of situation when the visa is not issued, then it becomes difficult for the student and they lose that considerable period of time,” said C Vijaya Kumar, director, international relations, Vellore Institute of Technology, but adding that they are “aggressively thinking of offering twinning programmes now after the new national educational policy (NEP) specifically spoke about this.”
Manipal University allows students who cannot go to continue to study in India as well but with a rider. “He will continue to study here but after completion of the four-year programme, he will be awarded a BSc and not a B.Tech degree,” said SP Kar, director of Manipal Academy of Higher Education’s (MAHE) media cell.
SRM University, a private institution in Andhra Pradesh, too, has been offering transfer programmes. After completing the initial two years of their BTech programme in SRM, the student can move to a partner university. “The next one or two years can be spent studying at a premium partner university of their choice s in USA, UK, Australia, Germany, Canada, France, Ireland and many more by transferring the credits obtained during their study at SRM AP”, said Dr Naga Swetha Pasupuleti, associate director, international relations, SRM university, Andhra Pradesh.
While Manipal has collaborated with 39 international universities; Thapar has with 11; SRM with over 100; and Vellore Institute of Technology, with over 350.
‘Half the cost of studying abroad'
Many students keen on global exposure but without the means of funding a full degree look at universities which offer either a transfer, twinning or dual-degree programme. These allow them to transfer their credits and graduate with a foreign degree but at a much lower cost.
“Since the first two years of study are in India, a significant part of the cost of education is saved. Students can save 40 to 50 percent of the total fee that they would have spent if they were to pursue the full course abroad,” said Hareesha KS.
“Transfer programmes also allow students the flexibility of choosing or changing the branch or major area of specialisation after entering the programme at foreign universities,” Pasupuleti added.
Kashyap, for example, was allowed to pursue two degrees simultaneously in Adelaide, leading to a double degree because the Australian system allows it. The UGC framed a policy for dual degrees only this year.
Students, on successful completion of the course, participate in the placement activities of the destination university, said Pasumuleti adding that these students get job offers in the destination country where the annual salary package upon graduation is between $50,000 and $100,000.
Students who complete their international degree programmes prefer to complete their post-graduation abroad, said Kumar. Close to 30 percent of students of SRM apply for higher studies abroad after graduation.
“Last year we had 250-plus students who went for higher studies abroad from SRM AP and several of them with scholarships of 50 percent and above. We shall be even more glad to place on record that 22 students have been admitted to Ivy League schools,” said Pasupuleti.
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