New Delhi: India today became a permanent member of the Washington Accord, which would enable global recognition of Indian degrees and increase the mobility of engineers to the USA and other countries for jobs.
The accord requires that member nations set up suitable accreditation standards which would ensure a minimum quality of attainment for their engineering graduates.
India, which has been a provisional member of Washington Accord since 2007, was working for several years to become a permanent member.
The breakthrough came at a meeting of the International Engineering Alliance in Wellington, New Zealand, this morning where the members voted to induct India as a permanent member of the select group.
Congratulating her ministry`s officials, HRD Minister Smriti Irani said that the development will "ensure that highest quality assurance standards (are) implemented in our technical and engineering programmes to provide global mobility to our engineering graduates".
"Degrees which have been so accredited... Will substantially enhance (Indian graduates`) employment opportunities around the world," she said in a statement.
Congratulations also poured in from her predecessor and former HRD Minister MM Pallam Raju who said that membership of the Washington Accord would be a good facilitator as it would give greater flexibility to Indian students and provide recognition to their degrees.
"Congratulations to the Ministry, after a seven-year effort by the Ministry, India has gained permanent membership of the Washington Accord!," he tweeted.
Now, degrees awarded by institutions accredited by the National Board of Accreditation (NBA) would be recognised by all Washington Accord member nations, he said.
The Accord was signed in 1989 as an international agreement among bodies responsible for accrediting engineering degree programmes. Some 17 countries are signatories to it.
The Washington Accord was signed by the National Board of Accreditation with the mandate for accrediting engineering and other technical programmes at all levels in the country and for making technical education outcome-based.
For its part, before granting it the full member status, the International Engineering Alliance (IEA), which is the Secretariat of the Washington Accord, had sent a review team in December, 2013, and January, 2014, to carry out a comprehensive review and audit of NBA`s accreditation systems and practices.
The review team had submitted its report in March, 2014.
Higher Education Secretary Ashok Thakur had earlier said that once the country acquired full membership of the Washington Accord, employ-ability of Indian engineers in other countries would go up substantially and it would also help students pursuing technical education