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INDIAN engineers from IITs, National Institutes of Technology and engineering colleges accredited by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) can hope for a smoother global passage. India’s provisional membership of the Washington Accord—an arrangement for accrediting engineering degree programmes—will be taken up for consideration shortly.

India had first applied for provisional membership in 2005. However, that attempt failed because of delays in submitting the application and the lack of sponsors. Unlike its 2005 attempt, the AICTE has submitted its proposal in time and got three sponsors—Australia, United Kingdom and Canada to back its claim. This year, along with the AICTE, Sri Lanka’s Institution of Engineers and the Russian Association for Engineering Education are being considered for provisional membership.

For India to receive provisional membership, it will need to garner a positive vote by at least two-thirds of the existing signatories. After a period of provisional membership, for India to be admitted as a signatory to the Washington Accord, it will require the unanimous approval of the existing signatories. During the period of provisional status, the accreditation criteria and procedures established by AICTE, and the manner in which those procedures and criteria are implemented, will be subject to comprehensive examination.

At present, Indian engineering degrees are not recognised by institutions in most countries, particularly developed ones. “Any recognition given is on a case-by-case basis. So the IIT degree is recognised, because of the global standing of the institutes, while degrees from an AICTE accredited engineering college, say like the National Institutes of Technology or private colleges are not,” said a senior HRD ministry official.

If India is granted provisional membership of the accord, engineers from AICTE accredited engineering schools will be able to work in each of the ten signatory countries without having to go through a degree equivalency programme. This will be possible as the degrees awarded by Indian engineering schools will be treated as equivalent to those of the member countries.

The Washington Accord is an agreement among the bodies responsible for accrediting engineering degree programmes in each of the signatory countries. It recognises the substantial equivalency of programmes accredited by those bodies and recommends that graduates of accredited programmes in any signatory country be recognised by the other countries as having met the academic requirements for entry to the practice of engineering. The Washington Accord was signed in 1989. At present there are ten signatory countries, which include Canada, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Ireland, Hong Kong and South Africa.

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