The Times of India | Prasad Joshi | TNN | Jun 8, 2016 |
Aurangabad: The self-study report of institutions of higher learning submitted before the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) can now be accessed under the RTI Act, 2005. In yet another student-centric reform, the NAAC has resolved to provide photocopies of the self-study reports (SSRs) submitted by institutions under the Act, if the application is made within a month from the declaration of accreditation results. Moreover, the institutions henceforth have to retain the SSRs uploaded on their website before assessment and accreditation, until the completion of the validity period of evaluation. During its recent meeting, the executive committee of the NAAC endorsed these reforms. Considered the most critical document for accreditation, SSR contains details about the infrastructure, facilities and amenities available at the institutions, along with their future plans. Upon acceptance of its Letter of Intent (LoL) from the NAAC, the institution has to submit the SSR within two weeks. Thereafter, the peer team visits for the purpose of assessment, followed by declaration of accreditation. The institutions are evaluated as per SSR among other parameters. K V Kale, director of Board of College and University Development at the Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, said the NAAC move would remove any doubts associated with the rating of institutions. “The rating received by the institutions sometimes raise doubt in the minds of stakeholders, following which a range of allegations are levelled. The NAAC decision to give public access to SSR of institutions will do away with such charges, if false in nature,” he said.
S V Birajdar, the principal of S B Science College, said the resolve expressed by the NAAC would help in a regime of transparency and accountability. “The SSR is a sort of commitment in writing. If any stakeholder is willing to cross-check it by having access to the SSR, he/she is deeply welcomed,” Birajdar said. Ravi Bharadwaj, a legal expert in the education field, appreciated the NAAC’s decision, but also drew attention towards the possible legal issues in making the decision applicable in deemed universities. “Several deemed universities have been battling out the applicability of the RTI Act in the court. In some cases, these universities have received temporary relief. It remains to be seen now these universities react to the NAAC’s decision,” he said. Bharadwaj also said a section of institutions of higher learning resorting to plagiarism while undergoing NAAC evaluation would have a deterrent in mind. In November last year, the NAAC had clearly stated that institutions indulging in plagiarism would be debarred from applying for accreditation. An autonomous body established by the University Grants Commission (UGC) to assess and accredit institutions of higher education in the country in 1994, the NAAC having carries out periodic assessment and accreditation of institutions of higher education or units thereof, or specific academic programmes or projects. In the recent past, it has taken several steps to strengthen the process of assessment and accreditation, which includes compulsory video recording of visits of the peer team to the institutions and proposing the creation of sub-grades based on the cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of institutions after evaluation.- Courtesy