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India - a member of Washington Accord, boost to engineers going abroad

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India now a member of Washington Accord

New Delhi: On Friday, India became a permanent member of Washington Accord (WA), which is an elite international agreement on engineering studies and mobility of engineers. India is now a member of select group of 17 countries who are permanent signatories of WA. The group recognises graduation-level engineering degrees awarded by one another's accredited institutions as equivalent.

Washington Accord is an international agreement amongst prominent nations of the world, with the charter of promoting nobility and quality assurance of engineers across international boundaries.

In a statement issued by the ministry, HRD Minister Smriti Irani states, "The signatory status will substantially increase global employment opportunities for technical and engineering graduates".

Among India's nearly 8000 engineering colleges, about 200 have National Board of Accreditation (NBA accreditation). Only these minor number of institutions will gain immediately. The others must wait till their engineering colleges get accredited by the NBA.

Traditional engineering programmes such as civil and electrical engineering or architecture in institutions that have NBA accreditations will now be exempted from the mandatory entrance test before taking up jobs or university course in the 15 other member countries. Other engineering courses like information technology, computer science will not benefit from this, as the WA does not cover these. Until now, only IIT graduates were exempted from entrance tests.

This entitlement also requires the nations to set up suitable accreditation standards to ensure a minimum quality of attainment for their engineering graduates. With this development, tech colleges will be under pressure to gain the status to attract the best students. Any overnight changes are not possible as it is tougher to get NBA accreditation because of a shift of focus from infrastructure inputs to academic outputs.

The NBA has revised guidelines, where earlier, the NBA focused on factors like infrastructure, funds, the teacher-student ratio, number of labs and the campus area. The revised guidelines focuses on research output, patent generation, publication, etc.

This upgrade is a part of seven years of efforts by the NBA to improve its system in India since 2007 when they received provisional membership of the Washington Accord.

HRD Minister adds, "graduates having degrees, which have been accredited by the NBA, would have substantial international equivalence of their achievement levels across the signatory nations. This will substantially enhance their employment opportunities around the world".

The 15 countries are: America, Britain, Australia, Canada, Russia, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Turkey.

"This also brings another advantage, as many foreign students will come to India to study engineering because the degrees would be recognised in the developing countries," quoted, D.K. Palliwal, former NBA member secretary.

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