Global drive planned to check fake colleges and universities
NEW INITIATIVE International accreditation authorities to come together to check fake bodies assessing higher education institutions
In what could be a major revolution in global education, a worldwide network of quality assurance agencies is working on defining a framework that will prevent students from getting duped by fake institutions globally and help institutions identify bogus accreditation bodies.
Internationally, there are several quality assurance bodies at the national and regional levels which are involved in assessing institutions in various countries.
This includes key quality networks and agencies from Asia, Europe, America, Australia, UK, Africa such as Asia-Pacific Quality Network ( APQN), Council for Higher Education Accreditation ( CHEA) from USA, European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education, ( ENQA), Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education UK (QAA – UK), and Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA), Australia, among others.
Now, t he I nt e r nati o nal Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE), a worldwide association of 300 organisations active in quality assurance in higher education, will work with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) ondeveloping a Global Quality Assurance Register (GQAR).
INQAAHE and UNESCO will be involved in reviewing and recognising quality assurance bodies and will blacklist fake bodies which give accreditation to HEIs.
“We want students and institutions to be aware that bodies such as International Accreditation Organisation and Accrediting Commission International exist, which are not authorised to grant accreditation to institutions,” says Dr Jagannath Patil, immediate past president of INQAAHE.
External Quality Assurance Agencies (EQAAs) which are full members of INQAAHE and other recognised EQAAs, quality networks, national and regional review/recognition bodies in higher education are among those which will benefit from the initiative. This suggests that all bodies will be engaged in review, recognition or listing of accreditation agencies and will form an alliance and launch GQAR as a joint global initiative.
“If we can work with inter-governmental bodies like UNESCO to support this venture, it will be a great help for quality assurance agencies, institutions and students all over the world. The general assembly of INQAAHE held in Fiji welcomed this new initiative,” says Dr Patil.
Once the project is finalised and agreements worked out between different national, regional and international bodies, peer review done by one body will be considered by others for grant of recognition or listing on register. This will be a good facility for agencies.
Besides this, all agencies engaged in review and recognition of accreditation agencies, can come together and provide a listing of quality assured accreditation agencies on a single platform GQAR. This will also serve as a one-stop solution for those who are looking for recognised QA bodies.
Challenges to be addressed, however, include comparability of criteria or standards adopted by different review bodies. These are evolved over time in different contexts and socio-economic or even in varied legal systems.
“In some systems, good standing with government is a key requirement. Other systems advocate field or market-based independence and autonomy. How such delicate issues would be addressed in mutual recognition is a challenge. The biggest challenge is that different bodies have started at different points of time and a lot of significance and involvement is attached with the review process. Accepting review by other agency could be an issue,” Patil says.
Many bodies or academic institutes could be put off by the competition or feel there’s encroachment on their domain or territory. Financial issues, too, could complicate things. Doing away with own review and relying on another could create problems. Even if mutual recognition is possible, there could be concerns of revenue sharing. A major challenge is identifying someone to take the initiative and figuring out the role and stakes involved for multiple, high-profile stakeholders if they need to come together.
Assessment and accreditation is a must for higher education institutions (HEIs) in India and students joining colleges should always check the accreditations of the college or university they are joining. The University Grants Commission has already made regular assessment and accreditation must for higher education institutions (HEIs) in India. In India, the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) and National Board of Accreditation are among the major bodies responsible for accrediting and assessing HEIs. As per NAAC, institutions are assessed on “quantity (increased access) and quality (relevance and excellence of academic programmes offered).” Chicago’s universities will sponsor start-up founders on H1B visas which won’t come under the annual H1B visa cap restricting spots to 65,000 (with another 20,000 for holders of master’s degrees or higher), Indian-American news portal Americanbazaaronline has reported.
Chicago- based Columbia College, DePaul University, the Illinois Institute of Technology, Loyola University and Northwestern University – will launch Global Entrepreneur-inResidence (EIR), inviting entrepreneurs to campuses.
The Indian American news portal quoted Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel as saying that the universities will work with the City of Chicago and sponsor between 10 to 20 visas for startup founders in the first year of the programme. “We want entrepreneurs to see Chicago as a place where their ideas dreams their companies can happen,” he had said.
“This initiative… is saying yes to entrepreneurship, yes to diversity and most importantly, yes to the future of the city of Chicago,” he reportedly said.
The universities will assess a company’s growth before sponsoring its entrepreneurs. Those whose startups are at an early stage will be employed parttime for the university and work separately on their companies. Established start-ups will get a chance to make a home base at their sponsor university and mentor its students.
Applications are likely to be exempt from an annual cap on H-1B visas, which restricts spots to 65,000, with another 20,000 reserved for those with master’s degrees or higher. The universities will run the admissions and reviews independently. Massachusetts also launched a similar programme in 2014, first at University of Massachusetts’ Boston and Lowell campuses, and later at Babson College. IIT Roorkee (IITR)’s annual fest Cognizance 2017 this year features a social campaign - Saving the Ganges. Indiscriminate use of the river is definitely bound to lead to disaster and this will be highlighted at the fest to be held on campus from March 24 to 26. The students are also getting innovative, exploring crowdfunding options to make bio-toilets on busy ‘ghats’ (points) of the river and designing drones to monitor water pollution
Named Aviral Ganga, the campaign highlights Ganga degradation. The students of Cognizance IIT Roorkee, living in the foothills of the Himalayas, acknowledge that the issue of exploitation of the river is “alarming” and have pledged to work for the rejuvenation of “our revered lifeline,” says Dr Sanjay Upadhyay, faculty coordinator, Cognizance 2017.
The initiative is being guided by UNESCO, UNEP, Centre for Environment Education (CEE) and South Asian Youth Environment Network (SAYEN).
As part of the project, which was launched on March 6 with an environment conclave, Cognizance has dedicated a team of more than 70 students to conduct various events both on and off ground. Theconclave featured a felicitation programme to recognise “unsung heroes” working to clean the Ganges - but those who had not received the recognition they deserved. They were: Vikas Chandra, founder of the Ganga Bachao Andolan 2000; Jaiprakash Dabral, founder of the Himalayan Chipko Foundation; AkashSinha, founder of Omni Present Robot Tech; Ankit Agarwal, co-founder of Help Us Green; and Siddhant Aggarwal, co-founder of Veditam Ganga.
Money is being raised innovatively by Cognizance IITRoorkee through crowdfunding in collaboration with Quash Products Pvt Ltd to set up bio-toilets along the busiest ghats of Ganga. An online photography competition – Waters of India – has invited entries on ‘clean and serene’ rivers.
About 50 volunteers from Cognizance and the NSS unit of the institute will start an awareness campaign at Har ki Paudi in Haridwar soon. A dronemaking competition will also be organised to make drone models capable of monitoring pollution levels of water-bodies. Apart from the river campaign, the main theme of Cognizance is Eureka 2.0, a three-day extravaganza with guest lectures, exhibitions, panel discussions, workshops, events, entrepreneurial summits and entertainment nights. The event will be inaugurated by the railway minister Suresh Prabhu.
In India, the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) and National Board of Accreditation are among the major bodies responsible for accrediting, assessing and grading institutions.