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Ranking of higher education institutions

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In the new Indian ranking system weightage on a factor like ‘perception of an institute’ will be less. Instead, more we­ightage would be given to teaching/learning, graduation outcomes and research. Each of the six groupings consists of various sub-factors. For instance, in case of graduation outcome, sub-factors that would be looked into are employment level, percentage of the self-employed, percentage of those pursuing higher education and those who are unemployed. India today has a well-defined approach, wherein the institution as a whole, both in terms of its academic and physical infrastructure and also the delivery of education and R&D outcome are considered as measuring ‘standards’ in the assessment and accreditation process. AT present, these tasks are done by two independent entities viz, the National Assessment & Accreditation Council and the National Board of Accreditation (NBA). NAAC is an independent autonomous entity while NBA is an arm of AICTE. Thus, the former operates with mo­re confidence and has its own identity. NBA carries all the bu­rden of good and bad virtues of AICTE. Both these agencies are under pressure of numbers. Naac handles ar­ound 35,000 colleges and 700 universities. Even after 15 years of existence, both Naac & NBA are still struggling to assess and accredit all educational institutions.

The tenth plan of the UGC first talked about the need for expanding the number of accreditation agencies. A review of the work done by NAAC over a decade commencing 2004 has been praiseworthy though there were concerns about the slow pace at which the institutions were being assessed and accredited. The thought of br­inging private professional bodies and creation of something like the Crisil index has gained momentum. Industry chambers have also expressed the need for pursuing the concept of public and private accreditation ag­encies. For the past decade or so, India has been in se­arch of solutions for addressing the pressure in accreditation of ever-rising nu­mber of educational institutions. The HRD ministry has now taken a lead and brought out a draft bill on formation of National Authority for Regulation in Accreditation of Hi­gher Education Institutions (NARAHEI). At present, this is being circulated among the various minis­tries for their views. The authority would have five me­mbers, one of them a woman. All the members would have only one five-year term. NARAHEI would register accreditation agencies and also lay down the norms and process for assessment and accreditation of institutions. The entire exercise is aim­ed at involving private players in the process of accreditation. The existing public agencies, Naac and NBA, wo­uld become independent accreditation agencies and wo­uld have to compete with the others. The presence of several accreditation agencies would certainly reduce the numbers pressure. Educational institutions would also have more options. However, there are few cri­tical points that need to be considered. First, one has to be sure that the entire process of assessment and accreditati­on follows an identical framework of standard benchmarks. Assessors should also follow well-defined procedures that are unbiased. Indeed, it is essential to create professional educational assessors. This happens in the UK and many European nations. Many accreditation agencies in the US depend on professional assessors. (The witer if a former chairman of University Grants Commission; former VC of SP Pune University and founder director of NAAC)Courtesy


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