Engineering graduates from India will find it easier to take (take with a grain of salt idiom synonym) advantage of international prospects as their degrees will now be recognized across 17 major countries including the United States, Japan and Australia. On Friday, India became a permanent member of the Washington Accord, an international agreement for accrediting undergraduate engineering degree programmes.
International mobility of engineering graduates from Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) has not been an issue given the global recognition of these institutes, but this has not been the case with the graduates from the 1,300-odd other engineering colleges in the country.
With India becoming a permanent member of the Washington Accord, Indian engineering graduates will be considered to have met the academic requirements necessary to take up the practice of engineering in any of the signatory countries. The Washington Accord aims to promote mobility and quality assurance across countries. Besides recognition for Indian engineering degrees, membership of the international accreditation agreement will ensure a minimum global quality for all engineering institutions in the country.
Congratulating the officials of the human resource development ministry and the National Board of Accreditation (NBA), human resource development minister Smriti Irani said, “This will ensure highest quality assurance standards to be implemented in our technical and engineering programmes and provide global mobility to our engineering graduates. Graduates having degrees, which have been so accredited, would have substantial international equivalence of their achievement levels across the signatory nations. This will substantially enhance their employment opportunities around the world.”
The decision to give India permanent membership, seven years after it acquired provisional membership, was taken at the meeting of the International Engineering Alliance in Wellington, New Zealand, on Friday. The membership is effective immediately.
This brings to a close India’s 15-year quest for permanent membership. In 2000, the All India Council for Technical Education (the NBA was part of the council) initiated efforts for membership of the Washington Accord but no real progress was made.
Another attempt was made in 2003, even though India’s proposal was considered fit for appraisal in June 2003, delays by the government in pursuing the case meant that India missed out being considered at the 2005 meeting of the Washington Accord members.
Despite efforts in fits and starts, India’s serious quest for membership began with a push from former HRD minister Kapil Sibal through moves including granting of autonomous status to the NBA. The Washington Accord requires countries to have a mandatory national accreditation system. In September 2013, the IITs agreed to be brought under the NBA’s accreditation umbrella, a move that helped India’s case enormously.