For universities, the focus now is on quality
GET READY UGC is encouraging institutions to go for accreditation; NAAC to overhaul assessment process
For universities, quality now gains immense importance compared to quantity, as recent announcements by the University Grants Commission (UGC) prove. Most institutes have been advised to getting a National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) certification.
Re gular assessment and accreditation has become mandatory. As per NAAC, institutions are assessed on “quantity (increased access) and quality (relevance and excellence of academic programmes offered).”
UGC will now consider granting autonomy to colleges that have received the highest NAAC accreditation in two consecutive cycles. Apart from a high NAAC grade, autonomy will be granted only to those institutes that adhere to UGC regulations. A college will be provided autonomous status if it obtains a no-objection certificate from the affiliated university.
Institutions will also be considered for grant of autonomy if they adhere to UGC regulations including curbing the menace of ragging on campus, promotion of equality in higher education institutes, grievance cells on campus. About 38 deemed universities graded B and C can also seek NAAC upgrades afresh as per a recent Supreme Court ruling. WHY ACCREDITATION IS A MUST UGC vide its Mandatory Assessment and Accreditation of Higher Educational Institutions, Regulations, 2012, had made accreditation mandatory for all higher educational institutions other than the technical institutions.
Last year, the education regulator had announced funding curbs for institutions without NAAC accreditation.
For UGC-recognised higher education institutions (HEIs) under sections 2(F) and 12B, to accreditation with a specified grade is mandatory if autonomous status is to remain unchanged. DP Singh, director, NAAC, says, “Similarly, HEIs may not continue to get general development assistance/grant by UGC if they are not accredited. For HEIs applying for deemed-to-be university status by ministry of human resource development (MHRD), accreditation is mandatory with a specific grade. Schemes of UGC, MHRD, Department of Biotechnology and Department of Science and Technology are linked with accreditation such as Universities with Potential for Excellence, Colleges with Potential for Excellence and Colleges with Excellence and qualify for specific grade and Cumulative Grade Points Average.” HOW INSTITUTIONS ARE ACCREDITED The NAAC peer team prepares a comprehensive report that is given to the institution for taking steps to improve its quality of education.
“As follow up action, NAAC asks the institution to send its Annual Quality Assurance Report (AQAR). It also conducts and facilitates seminars/conferences across the country on quality related issues to promote quality sustenance. However, the onus of taking remedial measures to improve quality lies on the institution,” says Singh. ACCREDITATION PROCESS OVERHAUL Elaborating on the changes in the accreditation process, Singh says, “One of the priority areas is giving NAAC a global outlook through collaborations with various international quality assurance agencies and organisations from across the globe, honing skills of staff through bilateral exchange programmes through different national and international agencies, overhauling the existing methodology and infusing international new changes/ patterns followed by global quality assurance agencies. We have already formed a high-level expert committee to oversee the change in grading pattern as decided by our executive committee.”
NAAC will also focus on strengthening of internal quality assurance mechanisms and mentoring of HEIs to bring them on par with international institutions. Sending minutes of the meetings of Internal Quality Assurance Cell to the NAAC on a quarterly basis will also be mandatory for every accredited institute. All accredited institutions will also have to submit the AQAR on a yearly basis without fail.
The grade review committee is also mulling creating new grades within the existing A, B, C and D grades for rating institutions.
As per the proposed broadbased parameters in the new methodology, institutions scoring CGPA in the range of 3.01 to 4 get A grade (very good), while those securing between 2.01 and 3 receive B grade (good). In order to compete globally, Indian institutes need to choose assessment and accreditation methodologies which have been r e c o g ni s e d a c r o s s t he gl obe, s ay e xper t s. Some of these assessment frameworks include the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA), International Organisation for Standardisation, ABET model, ( Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology), NBA model of AICTE (National Board of Accreditation from the All India Council for Technical Education), NAAC, Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education in UK and Australian Universities Quality Agency.
According to SV Subrahmanya, former VP and fellow research (education) at Infosys, “MBNQA for education is more detailed for assessments. The current model of NAAC assessment framework needs to gel with the MBNQA education criteria principles. Hence, we have to customise a new framework as reference model for measurements and assessments.”
The MBNQA framework has been well thought out with key elements such as leadership, strate g y, customers, workforce, operations and results. NAAC assessment’s key criteria includes the curricular aspects, teaching, learning and evaluation, research, consultancy and extension, infrastructure and lear ning resources, student support and progression, governance, leadership and management innovations and best practices. “It is also important to draw lessons from the MBNQA key categories to customise a new assessment framework,” adds Subrahmanya.
Shortage of quality assessors with expertise in process and systems knowledge are a hindrance to proper assessments. A digital platfor m where everything can be put together and handled through e-assessments will help. “The government should now focus on creating a cloud based digital platform bringing NAAC and other assessing agencies under one umbrella. Experts should then be able to assess any institution’s inputs through the digital systems. There should be mechanisms and technology to capture all required, relevant and realistic data and information that is available in any institution on any of the assessment parameter that is measured, so that institutions on various parameters can be assessed including faculty accreditations,” he says.
There should be a review at highest levels on all the assessments done through an expert digital panel to normalise the ratings so that we get mapped to the global rankings and ratings.