Yog Raj Kandel Sharma
General Secretary, IEPAN
Could you share with us the current activities of IEPAN?
IEPAN is the umbrella organization of foreign universities affiliated colleges in Nepal. It coordinates with the government to give information about the contributionsof such colleges to education sector. International education providingcolleges have made significant contributions to controlling the outflow of Nepali currency in foreign lands.These institutions are disseminating internationally acclaimed education in Nepal. On the other hand, the same course is delivered in a foreign landwhere students have to pay a large amount of money, but our college offers the same course at a low fee structure in comparison to foreign institutions.
Regarding the number of college members, as many as95 academic institutions are providing foreign education in Nepal. In other words, these colleges are helping their learners seize international opportunities at local level. They are also providing 10% scholarship to students and paying a large amount of money as a tax to the government. Though we are contributing immensely to consolidation of economic condition of the nation as well as creating global opportunities for myriads students at local level, the government has yet not acknowledged our contributions. In this regard, IEPAN deals with the government for our concerns and negotiate with it on various issues. Our main concern is to make the government positive for our contributions and suggest it implementappropriate policiesfor our security and sustainability.
Could you share with us notable work done by the IEPAN following its establishment?
IEPAN has been working for the security and stability of foreign university affiliated colleges in Nepal. It has also been working to enhance foreign education in Nepal and to create global opportunities at local level. After its establishment, the organization informed the Education Minister about the current foreign education system including credit hours, credit hour transfer etc.We also informedthe government about the practices regarding credit hours and non-credit hours that are commonly practiced in the USA, Australia and European countries. We made the university realize about the need of credit system in Nepalese Universities. Due to the genuine support of IEPAN, credit and credit transfer system was brought into practice in Nepalese Universities.
What are the differences between the three-year and four-year bachelor courses?
In general practice, in most of the countries in the world below sixty credit hours is consideredto be non-academicor non-credit hour education. So, credit hour is the main assessment criterion forthe academic standard. There are no any differences between the three-year and four-year courses should they fulfill the required credit hours’ courses but the calculation system is different country to country.
You are closely witnessing the problems of foreign university affiliated colleges as General Secretary of IEPAN. What problems, do you think, are they facing now?
Obscure and unstable policy of the government is the main problem that foreign university affiliated colleges are currently facing in Nepal.The government has adopted discriminatory policies for foreign university affiliated colleges and has created obstruction in the way to smooth development, expansion and uplift of such colleges. Similarly, there is no trust-worthy environment for the security of our investment, which has created dilemma and state of quandary for investors.
What steps would you like Nepal Government to take to solve these problems?
First of all, the government should understand and evaluate our contributions to the provision of global opportunities for Nepalese students at local level. Moreover, our academic contributions have made great impacts onenhancing economic status of the country. The government should also understand that the right of students toeducation should not be demarcated in the current open society. Therefore, we have been running colleges after fulfilling all the criteria, following all existing laws and procedures. So, the government should not create confusion in the passage of time.Secondly, if the government wants to shutsuch colleges, it should give option and time to investors for safe landing.
Foreign university affiliated colleges in Nepal offer foreign education. What differences have you found between the foreign education system and Nepalese education system?
Foreign education system is based on practical orientation which focuses on professional knowledge. The courses are prepared, updated and revised by analyzing the international market, which are rare in Nepalese education system. This could be true Nepalese education is still based on theoretical orientation and education is offered randomly without analyzing the market demand.
Notwithstanding there are an increasing number of colleges being established in Nepal to offer international education in the native land, still the trend often-plus-two graduates going to foreign lands in search of higher education has not been diminished yet. Why are you not able to convince students to study in Nepal rather than spending a high amount of money in a foreign land?
There is a provision of 13000 seatsfor the admission at foreign university affiliated colleges in Nepal, but the demand of such education is very extreme. Most ten-plus-two graduates wantto go abroad as they see no opportunities in their native land. Likewise, among 13000 seats, around 12500 students complete their courses and around 500 students drop out due to various reasons.
What lessons should domestic university affiliated college learn from foreign university affiliated colleges?
They should learn thatnew practices of teaching and education system are adopted by most academic institutions in the world now, but our country is an exception. Basically, our domestic university affiliates should learn about advanced and latest teaching pedagogy, evaluation system and maintenance of theacademic calendar. Similarly, they should learn the evaluation system through regular mock exams.
How will the IEPAN go ahead in the future?
The IEPAN will deal and negotiate with the government regardingseeking solutions to existing problems of foreign university affiliated colleges and suggesting the government that it should prepare effective inclusive education policies. Similarly, it will work for uniting all the like-minded organizations for quality delivery and developing trust among them. Likewise, the organization will also work for ensuring security and sustainability of its affiliates through government’s equitable policies.