To Bachelor or Not to Bachelor?


Foreign universities offer a number of qualifications apart from the regular bachelor degrees. Karan Teckchandani introduces you to some of them

Nowadays a number of recognised institutions and universities award a variety of qualifications for those who may not have either the time or money required for a bachelor’s degree, or perhaps would want to pursue a short course to help with their career. Most of these qualifications serve as introductory courses to a field of study. Some others do away with the unnecessary credit requirements and only focus on the core subjects.

Associate Degree
This is an undergraduate academic degree awarded by community colleges, junior colleges and degree granting institutions in the US. It is the lowest in the hierarchy of post-secondary academic degrees offered. In spite of persistent high unemployment, there is demand in the US for people with ‘middleskills’ that often require no more than an associate degree, such as lab technicians, teachers in early-childhood programmes, computer technicians, draftsmen, radiation therapists, paralegals and machinists. An associate degree is awarded to students who complete 90 quarter credit hours or 60 semester credit
hours of schooling.

Higher National Diploma (HND)
The Higher National Diploma or HND is a qualification granted in the UK after two years of study. Most coursework units of the HND are awarded with a Pass or Fail, in addition to one graded unit each year which is awarded with an A, B or C. It is popular in business and computer science courses. Those pursuing engineering HNDs usually go on to study a third year to obtain their bachelor degree. This process is called a top-up. HND holders are permitted to use the postnominals HND or HNDip after their name, usually followed by the course name in brackets.

Diplôme D’études Universitaires Générales (DEUG)
The DEUG is a diploma in France that is conferred through a bachelor’s degree – it is awarded after the completion of the first four semesters of a six semester degree. It is up to individual universities to determine which areas of study and which courses award the DEUG to its students.

Foundation Degree
Foundation Degrees are awarded in the UK. As the name suggests, the degree lays the foundation; it gives basic knowledge in a subject for the student who will pursue employment or further studies in that field. It is usually offered by universities working in tandem with further education colleges – specialist and adult education institutes – and lasts for two years with full-time study. Foundation Degrees aim to give students industry experience, the ability to place practical knowledge in an academic perspective, and a study structure that is accessible by working professionals. Foundation Degree holders may ‘top-up’ too by continuing their study for one more year after which they receive a bachelor’s degree.

Higher Diploma (HD)
A Higher Diploma is an academic degree that is awarded in Hong Kong, UK, Ireland, Iraq and Oman at different levels. Iraq awards it after the completion of a year of master’s degree study. In Hong Kong it is considered equal to an Associate Degree – it is higher than a certificate and diploma, but lower than a bachelor’s degree. The emphasis is on specialisation and job training. In the UK, it is considered equivalent to the student passing class 12.

The pros
* They cut out unnecessary courses.
* They take a shorter time to complete.
* They are more geared towards the specific job skill set you need for your career.
* They are low cost options.

The cons
* Not all recruiters favour such degrees.
* There are limited courses such degrees can be pursued in.
* Should one choose to do a higher degree (master or PhD) afterwards, these qualifications would not be sufficient. A bachelor’s degree is the only recognised qualification.
* There is a lack of campus life, since many students use the light workload and the excess time it comes with to be more productive by participating in activities or working jobs.

Recognition in India
At the moment, the scope of employment in India for people attaining such degrees is very low since the current job market has become difficult enough for those with advanced qualifications such as master’s degrees. Companies in India are able to get well-qualified talent at a low cost; hence there is little or no incentive to hire people who have non-bachelor degrees, even if they were pursued from educational hubs like the US, UK or Australia.
Yet, many sectors do not place emphasis on academic qualifications but rather on skill and knowledge. Creative sectors such as film making do not require an academic qualification. Additionally, there are various opportunities in BPOs, advertising and technical fields, such as electronic maintenance.

•    The list of subjects ranges from philosophy to gastronomy to auditing.
•    Most relate to the arts and commerce fields.
•    Many associations, formed since the early part of this decade, grant charters    – professional designations – to candidates who clear their exams. An example is the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst Association that confers the CAIA charter on candidates who clear both their exams.


Volume 3 Issue 9


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