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The Controversy over NAAC’s System for Assessing Higher Education

Oct 02, 2022

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Today we will discuss The Controversy over NAAC’s System for Assessing Higher Education in our daily edition of Current Affairs. Read further to upgrade your UPSC CSE knowledge and also understand the topic’s relevance to the UPSC syllabus.

For Prelims: National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), University Grants Commission (UGC), higher education institutes (HEIs), 

For Mains: Accreditation Process of NAAC, The Alternatives Procedure for Assessment, Eligible Higher Education Institutes for Accreditation, Provisional Accreditation for Colleges (PAC).

Probable Question

Explain the procedure and importance of the accreditation process by the NAAC.

Context

Recently a controversy erupted over the rating of the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), alleging that bribery is given for improved rating.

About NAAC

  • The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) is an autonomous body under the University Grants Commission (UGC).
  • Objective: NAAC assesses and certifies higher education institutes (HEIs) with gradings as part of accreditation. 
  • Rating:
    • It is a multi-layered process; a higher education institution learns whether it meets the standards of quality set by the evaluator in terms of curriculum, faculty, infrastructure, research, and other parameters. 
    • The ratings of institutions range from A++ to C. 
    • If an institution is graded D, it means it is not accredited.
Note:

University Grants Commission (UGC):

The University Grants Commission (UGC) came into existence in 1953. It became a statutory Organization of the Government of India by an Act of Parliament in 1956.
It was formed for the coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of teaching, examination and research in university education.

Accreditation Process

  • The current accreditation process has been described as “input-based” which means NAAC relies heavily on self-assessment reports of applicant institutions.
  • The applicant institution initially submits 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. 

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The Alternatives Procedure for Assessment

  • The NAAC plans to adopt an “outcome-based approach”, contrary to the prevailing “input-based” approach. 
  • The input-based system is akin to accepting the claim of a Ph.D. candidate that his thesis is of high quality. 
  • The outcome-based approach suggests that rather than relying exclusively on the self-study reports of the HEIs, the NAAC should ask institutions to provide evidence such as samples of learning materials, continuous assessment tasks, and final examinations. 

Eligible Higher Education Institutes for Accreditation

  • As per the rules, only those higher education institutions 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. 
  • Aspiring institutes need to be recognized by the UGC and have regular students enrolled in their full-time teaching and research programs. 
  • When an institution undergoes the accreditation process for the first time it is referred to as Cycle 1, and the subsequent five-year periods as Cycles 2, 3, and so on.
  • There are only 19 universities and 121 colleges out of 1043 universities and 42,343 colleges listed, that have been reviewed by the NAAC four times, with a gap of five years between each grading. 
  • Maharashtra accounts for the highest number of accredited colleges at 1,869, more than twice as many as Karnataka’s 914, the second highest. 
  • Tamil Nadu has the most accredited universities at 43.

Causes for Few Institutes Accredited

  • Accreditation has been made mandatory through the UGC (Mandatory Assessment and Accreditation of Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2012.
  • Despite UGC mandates, many Institutes have the fear of obtaining a poor grade or no accreditation at all holds back higher education institutes from voluntarily applying for evaluation. 
  • Provisional Accreditation for Colleges (PAC):
    • NAAC explored the possibility of a new system of PAC under which even one-year-old institutions could apply for accreditation. 
    • NAAc suggested the validity of the provisional certificates for two years. 
    • The PAC proposal implies a lowering of standards so that a greater number of colleges can gain Provisional Accreditation.
    • Criticism: 
      • This system can lead to compromise with quality. 
      • It would be wiser on the part of NAAC to help the colleges improve the quality of education they provide, such that they can be successful in meeting the standards that NAAC accreditation calls for.

News Source:

https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/the-controversy-over-naacs-system-for-assessing-higher-education-8160859/

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