NATIONAL ASSESSMENT AND ACCREDITATION COUNCIL (NAAC)
NAAC released a statement addressing the allegations, saying, “As per the mandate of NAAC, the entire process of accreditation and assessment is robust, transparent, ICT-driven and automated
2.Process of Accreditation
The current approach has been described as “input-based”. In other words, NAAC relies heavily on self-assessment reports of applicant institutions.
The first step has an applicant institution submitting a self-study report of information related to quantitative and qualitative metrics. The data is then validated by NAAC expert teams, followed by peer team visits to the institutions. This last step has sparked controversy.
NAAC released the improved grading, terming the allegations as “false”. Interestingly, the controversy has surfaced at a time when the council is considering reducing the role of the peer team visits in the overall scheme of things.
“The process of Peer Team Visits adds substantial effort on the part of both NAAC and the HEIs. Hence, we recommend that the role of Peer Team visits be facilitatory and not have a significant weightage in assessment and accreditation.
2. Functions of NAAC
The NAAC, set up in 1994, is entrusted with assessing the quality of India’s higher educational institutions.
Following a multi-layered assessment process, it awards grades to colleges and universities
Its parameters include curriculum, faculty, infrastructure, research and financial well-being
The grades issued by NAAC range from A++ to C. If an institution is graded D, it means it is not accredited
The first step involves an institute approaching the NAAC for assessment
Once the NAAC sets the process in motion, the applicant has to submit a self-study report (SSR) containing information related to quantitative and qualitative metrics
The data is then validated by expert teams of the NAAC, followed by spot visits by peer teams comprising assessors drawn from universities across India
3.Importance of Mandatory Accreditation
While the UGC has over the years issued many circulars directing institutes to mandatorily undergo NAAC’s assessment, the process still remains largely voluntary
The National Education Policy (2020) has set an ambitious target of getting all higher educational institutes to obtain the highest level of accreditation over the next 15 years
However, according to information shared by the Centre in Lok Sabha in February 2023, out of the 1,113 universities and 43,796 colleges in the All India Survey on Higher Education Report 2020-21, only 418 universities and 9,062 colleges were NAAC-accredited as on January 31, 2023
According to current and former officials of the NAAC, the fear of obtaining poor grades holds institutes back from applying
In 2019, the UGC had launched a scheme named ‘Paramarsh’ to address the issue. Under the scheme, some of the best performing institutes were identified to serve as mentors to at least five institutes aspiring to get accredited
Currently, only institutes that are at least six years old, or from where at least two batches of students have graduated, can apply. The accreditation is valid for five years