Financial Chronicle | Mydigitalfc | October 06 2015 | Tags: Op-ed |
Given the massive popularity and growing influence of world university rankings, it is easy to forget that the very first such rankings — the Academic Ranking of World Universities — were produced by China’s Shanghai Jiao Tong University as recently as 2003. Over the past decade, international rankings of universities, by Times Higher Education (THE), Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) and, of course, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, have not only become a routine annual affair but are also treated as a report card on the state and status of higher education institutions in countries across the world. In India, world university rankings make big news, certainly in the English media. This is largely because no Indian university ranks in the world’s top 200 institutions. India is set to evolve its own system of ranking of higher educational institutions. Designed with the Indian situation in mind, the new system will stress on outcomes and that ranking of institutions should not be confused with accreditation that is already being done by National Assessment and Accreditation Council. Recently the directors of IITs, IIMs, NITs and representatives of CII and Ficci met to work out the ranking system. They have identified six groupings of outcomes on which institutions will be ranked. These are academic performance, teaching-learning, learning resources, graduation outcome, global MoUs and impact/innovation done by institutions. Ranking for science, engineering, liberal arts, social sciences, medicine, law and business administration will be done differently. It would be interesting to see how the committee spells the weightage for each of the six linkages.
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