Government of India has proposed  to replace the 1986 Education policy with specific provisions on  accreditation.

 Ranking of Institutions and Accreditation

The global ranking of universities is based on an assessment of the institutional performance in the areas of research and teaching, reputation of faculty members, reputation among employers, resource availability, share of international students and activities etc. Most of the top ranking institutions are located in the USA and UK.

 

The Indian universities do not find a place in the top 200 positions in the global ranking of universities. Even the top ranking institutions of India appear low in the global rankings. As per the Times Higher Education Rankings 2012-13, the top ranked Indian institutions are IIT Kharagpur (234), IIT Bombay (258) and IIT Roorkee (267). The top ranked institutions as per the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) System 2012 were IIT Delhi (212), IIT Bombay (227) and IIT Kanpur (278). Does it imply that India has only low quality higher institutions? The idea of establishing accreditation agencies in India was to enhance standards and quality of higher education. As a measure of quality assurance India established accreditation agencies in 1994.

 

The institutions of higher education were supposed to approach the accreditation agencies to get their institution or programme accredited. Accreditation was voluntary and as a result only few institutions have approached and accredited in India. Only 140 universities (out of the 164 recognized by the UGC) have got themselves accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) and, among them; only 32 percent have rated as A grade or above. Amongst the 4,870 colleges, as many as 2,780 are accredited by the NAAC and, among them, barely 9 percent are rated as A or above.

 

Doubtless, quality and excellence in colleges leaves much to be desired. Among the accredited institutions, 68 percent of 8 the universities and 91 percent of the colleges are rated average or below average in terms of quality parameters specified by the NAAC. The Indian higher education system has expanded and will further expand. This is in response to the increasing social demand for higher education. However, a major share of this expansion has taken place through the private institutions.

 

The quality of facilities and teaching learning process in these institutions is far from satisfactory. An assessment and accreditation of institutions are important, especially in the context of mushrooming of private higher education institutions, to ensure quality in higher education. There is need for effective ways and strategies to expedite the completion of assessment and accreditation by NAAC within a stipulated time frame.

 

Now accreditation is made mandatory for higher education institutions to receive funding support from the UGC. While this is a positive development, the issue of accrediting large number of institutions within a short period of time poses challenges to the accreditation agencies. Some of the state governments, notably the State Councils of Higher Education, have established their own accreditation units. This is an important development to decentralize the accreditation process.

 

The higher education institutions have also established internal quality assurance cells. Their functioning and effect on improving overall quality improvement of the institutions is yet to be assessed. The issues related to ranking and accreditation raises several issues for discussions. 

Questions for discussion

 Should India focus its resources on research universities, including liberal arts and social sciences so as to improve the country’s position in the global rankings?

  Should not India develop its own ranking system relying on indicators more suitable to Indian situation as other ranking systems have heavy weightage for perception/subjective factors in which Indian Universities lose out.

 Accreditation has been made mandatory for all institutions (whether the institution is publicly funded or not)? Is this approach correct or not?

 How should we facilitate the process of accreditation to make the process more objectively verifiable and transparent?

 Should we focus on programme accreditation or institutional accreditation or both?

Accreditation & Ranking are two different subjects. By clubbing  these two the narrative  might get distorted.

Accreditation can never be made mandatory as it goes against the spirit of accreditation itself as practiced worldwide.  The logic is simple. Only when an institution considers itself mature  enough through self-study it would opt for third party assessment and endorsement of its status. Making it compulsory and wanting to introduce accreditation even before the institution has started as referenced in some other part of this document, the  purpose of accreditation will not be served which is to raise the bar on quality based on peer assessment . 

To make it objectively verifiable and transparent the  mentoring system has to be strengthened and the mentors should be trained adequately. The self -assessment report  is to be  monitored and endorsed by the mentor first before handing it over for peer evaluation and  comments which should then be followed up by the institution with the help of the mentors.  The entire process would bring transparency and accountability.
Institutional rather than programme accreditation would help bring up robustness of an institution. 

 

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