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

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - HT Education - - Front Page - Gauri Kohli HT Ed­u­ca­tion Cor­re­spon­dent HT Ed­u­ca­tion Cor­re­spon­dent

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.

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