Foreign universities shrink courses to woo students

As the crumbling rupee makes Indian students reconsider their overseas campus plans, universities in some countries have started introducing new scholarships and flexible academic options to keep the flow from India going.

From this year, many institutions in New Zealand will allow students to opt for ‘condensed’ master’s programs. “They will have to cover the same content in a shorter time. Students signing up for a two-year masters course may be allowed to complete it in 12 to 18 months,” said Ziena Jalil, regional director, South Asia for Education New Zealand.

Many Australian institutions also offer this option. Students may be allowed to apply for credit subject exemption based on recognition of prior learning if they have studied the same or similar courses earlier at an appropriate level. Others may be allowed to put in longer work days to complete the credits required. In Australia, students are allowed to forego their holidays ( like the three-month Christmas break covering December, January and February ) to complete the course at one stretch.

“The advantage lies in reduction of subjects of study, fees and time taken to complete the course. In some cases, you will not have to pay for courses exempted, while a condensed course means a shorter stay overseas resulting in lesser expenses,” said Robert Dilinger, owner and director of overseas education agent Dilinger Consultants. The understanding is that students who complete their courses earlier can start paying off their debts earlier.

In the US, Concordia University, New York, which has partnered with Women’s Christian College in Chennai for an American Transfer Program, allows students to get an American degree in three-and-a-half years instead of the usual four years, and a PG degree in 4.5 years instead of the usual six years.

In the UK, so far there has been no condensed course as most masters programs are of much shorter duration than elsewhere, said representatives of UK universities. “But if the scenario from last month ( if the rupee continues to fall ) persists, than we may have to look at scholarships to encourage students to apply,” said Vanivijay Yalla, India representative of Anglia Ruskin University in the UK.

Some have started announcing new scholarships. Aggressively marketing their courses at the New Zealand education fair that has been going to Indian cities since last week, representatives said that universities will offer all international PhD students the same fees for domestic New Zealand students. Germany has started a new study scholarship for architecture students looking to complete a course of extension studies without gaining a formal degree or qualification and those who want to complete a master’s degree in the country.

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