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Revamping Higher Education Accreditation

Context:

The Central government plans to overhaul the accreditation system for higher educational institutes by the end of the year. It aims to replace the current practice of assigning a score and corresponding grade with a binary system.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC)
  2. What is the difference between assessment and accreditation?
  3. Advantages of NAAC Accreditation
  4. Overhaul of Higher Education Accreditation System in India

About National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC)

  • The University Grants Commission established the NAAC as an autonomous body (UGC).
  • It was founded in 1994 as a result of recommendations made under the National Education Policy (1986).
  • The Karnataka Societies Registration Act of 1960 governs its registration.
  • Vision: To make quality the distinguishing feature of higher education in India through a combination of internal and external quality evaluation, promotion, and sustainability initiatives.
  • Bengaluru is the headquarters.
NAAC’s objectives are as follows
  • To arrange for periodic evaluation and accreditation of institutions of higher education or units thereof, as well as specific academic programmes or projects;
  • To stimulate the academic environment in higher education institutions in order to promote the quality of teaching-learning and research;
  • In higher education, to promote self-evaluation, accountability, autonomy, and innovation;
  • To conduct quality-related research, consulting, and training programmes.

What is the difference between assessment and accreditation?

  • The performance of an institution or its units is evaluated using predetermined criteria.
  • Accreditation is quality certification for a set period of time, which in the case of NAAC is five years.
  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) made accreditation mandatory for Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) in a gazette notification in January 2013.
How the Accreditation Process Works:
  • The Assessment and Accreditation process entails the following steps: online submission of Institutional Information for Quality Assessment (IIQA) and Self-Study Report (SSR).
  • NAAC Data Validation and Verification (DVV).
  • NAAC Student Satisfaction Survey (SSS).
  • Visit by a Peer Team.
  • Institutional Evaluation.

Advantages of NAAC Accreditation

  • A higher education institution learns whether it meets certain quality standards set by the evaluator in terms of curriculum, faculty, infrastructure, research, and financial well-being through a multi-layered process steered by the NAAC.
  • The NAAC assigns institutions grades ranging from A++ to C based on these parameters. If an institution receives a D, it is not accredited.
  • Apart from recognition, accreditation assists institutions in attracting capital because funding agencies seek objective data for performance funding.
  • Through an informed review process, it assists an institution in determining its strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities.
  • NAAC accreditation benefits students pursuing higher education abroad because many global higher education authorities insist on the institution where the student has studied being recognised and accredited.

Overhaul of Higher Education Accreditation System in India

Government’s Plan:

  • The Central government aims to revamp the accreditation system for higher education institutes by the end of the year.

Binary System Proposal:

  • The proposed shift involves replacing the current scoring and grading system with a binary system.
  • Institutions will be categorized as either accredited or unaccredited, eliminating specific scores or grades.

Committee Recommendations:

  • Recommendations by the committee, led by former ISRO chairman Dr. K Radhakrishnan, have been accepted by the Education Ministry.

Inclusion of IITs:

  • The committee proposes bringing Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) under the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), replacing their internal evaluation systems.

Binary Accreditation System Details:

  • The current eight-point grading system will be replaced by a binary system: Accredited or Not Accredited.
  • A sub-category, “Awaiting Accreditation,” will cover institutes close to the threshold level.
  • The accreditation process will involve “crowdsourcing” feedback from various stakeholders, reducing dependence on expert inspections.

Formation of National Accreditation Council (NAAC):

  • The committee suggests creating a single overarching agency, the National Accreditation Council (NAAC), integrating the accreditation of institutes and courses.
  • NAAC will also subsume the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF).

Implementation of Binary Accreditation:

  • Higher education institutions will receive either an “Accredited” or “Not Accredited” tag.
  • “Not Accredited” will have two sub-categories: “Awaiting Accreditation” for institutes needing improvement and “Not Accredited” for those far below standards.

Maturity-Based Graded Accreditation:

  • NAAC introduces “Maturity-Based Graded Accreditation” alongside the binary system.
  • Recognizes institutions from “level one” to “level five,” incentivizing improvement up to “Institution of Global Excellence for Multi-Disciplinary Research and Education.”

Uncertainty Regarding IIT Participation:

  • It remains unclear whether Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) will be mandated to participate in the new accreditation system.

-Source: The Hindu


February 2024
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