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NAAC inspections to have less weightage, penalty for fake data

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi  | April 25, 2017 |

Image Courtesy: pib.nic.in

Self-collected data submitted by an institute to the NAAC is likely take precedence over physical inspection as the HRD Ministry is planning to overhaul the current accreditation framework. Following complaints of corruption, an 80 per cent weightage has been proposed for self-reported data analysed through software-based capturing and 20 per cent weightage to peer review teams.   Provisions of penalty for institutes submitting “fraudulent” information are also likely to be introduced and the number of parameters may be reduced to make the assessmnt more comprehensive. The HRD ministry is also considering allowing a say of the IITs in granting accreditation to institutes.

The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), which accredits institutes of higher education in the country, had on March 31 suspended the application process till the grading system undergoes an overhaul.  Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar, while inaugurating a national consultation of revised accreditation framework, today pressed upon the need for more accreditation agencies.  “If we want to reach the institutes in a time-bound manner and assess them properly, we need more valuators. Therefore we want to set up at least three to four more institutes and we should also give a message to them in this regard,” he said during the consultation.  “We have asked the IITs to be accreditation agencies. There is a council meeting on April 28 where the issue will be taken up. If they want to do it independently we are ready for it,” Javadekar said.  Higher Education Secretary K K Sharma said ensuring quality assessment will not be an easy task and hence international credibility of the revised tools need to be emphasised upon.  “As per the new methodology in deciding the grade of an institute, the peer team assessment of institutes will be given just 20 per cent weightage instead of the current 100 per cent. Eighty per cent weightage will be given to self reported data which can be analysed through software driven data capture,” he said.  “While the number of parameters should be reduced to make the assessment more comprehensive, a third party verification of the data captured online is also required,” he said, adding provisions of penalty for those submitting false data will also be introduced.

The revised framework focuses on augmented use of technology, greater objectivity, and transparency of the process.  “Working groups of experts have deliberated and developed the formats for universities, autonomous colleges and affiliated colleges. The outcome of a pilot study to validate the framework and feedback by stakeholders will also be considered during the national consultation,” a senior HRD Ministry official said.  “Around 100 experts comprising eminent educationists, current and former vice chancellors, directors, statutory bodies, academics, principals of colleges are participating in the consultation, the inputs of which will be used to fine- tune and finalise the revised accreditation framework which is slated to be launched in July,” he added.  According to the new assessment, the institutes will not know in advance which team will visit them and the accommodation and travel plans of the peer team visit will also be outsourced.  – Courtesy

Govt shifts focus from HRD inspection to self-disclosure for university and college accreditation

Live Mint |  Thu, Apr 20 2017  |   Prashant K Nanda |

Instead of HRD ministry and NAAC sending teams for inspection, educational institutions will now disclose their claims on an online platform for accreditation.

Like what it advocates for industries, the Union government is now shifting focus from inspection of colleges and universities to self-disclosure as a prerequisite for granting accreditation.  Instead of the human resource development (HRD) ministry and the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) sending expert teams for inspection and relying on their field visit report for granting accreditation, educational institutions are now required to disclose their claims on an online platform.  The move comes as accreditation is becoming essential for getting approval to open new departments, courses or extending the legal approval of an institution in entirety. The move will be part of the proposed plan to revamp the NAAC, the apex accreditation body that accredits colleges and universities in India. NAAC off late is facing criticism for poor rigour and subjectivity, hence a need for revamping its function.  The expert field visits which are now the key criterion for grading and accrediting institutions will get only 20% weightage. As part of the restructuring, NAAC has already stopped accrediting institutions beginning 1 April. Beginning July, the new accreditation process will kick in.  The move follows HRD minister Prakash Javadekar expressing unhappiness over the current functioning of NAAC and how it gives very high grades to even some of the institutions which are perceived poor in their education outcome.

“NAAC has embarked in revising its Assessment and Accreditation Framework. The revised framework would be more ICT enabled and is expected to come into effect from July 2017,” NAAC director D.P. Singh said in a circular posted on the official website.  However, all applications received prior to 1 April will be assessed via the old methodology that predominantly uses field visit reports by expert teams. An HRD ministry official said that Javadekar has already expressed his “willingness to rope in top institutions like IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology) and IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) for the accreditation process to clip the wings of NAAC”.  The new system will now have inputs from top institutions and domain experts and try to reduce possible malpractice in the accreditation process. Once the new system is in place, colleges and universities will not know in advance which team will visit them for evaluation and travel and logistics plan may get outsourced to a third party—in a way, this will add a surprise element and reduce possible joint efforts by some experts and institutions for mutual benefit.  India’s higher education regulators like the University Grants Commission (UGC) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) are now asking colleges and universities to get accredited and accreditation is playing an important role in getting approval for starting new courses, opening departments or extending old approvals. Hence, the HRD ministry feels that unless the NAAC process is revamped, it will not serve the purpose. –  Courtesy

NAAC wants regular academic audits in higher education institutions

Hindustan Times | K Sandeep Kumar  |   Allahabad, Apr 17, 2017 |

National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) wants all institutions of higher education to formally prepare guidelines, statues and ordinances for academic and administrative audit (AAA) so that it becomes an institutionalised practice on all campuses.  The organisation also wants these temples of higher learning to update recent trends in AAA as tool for continuous quality improvement.  For this, NAAC has issued an advisory to all accredited higher education institutions (HEIs) who volunteer to undertake AAA for meeting targets set for excellence. In the advisory note issued by NAAC director prof DP Singh, NAAC has made clear that as the facilitator of quality culture in higher education, it was striving to promote any good practices of AAA brought to its attention.

According to the advisory, “NAAC has evolved tools and guidelines for improving quality in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and for its sustenance. By establishing Internal Quality Assurance Cell (IQAC) and undergoing External Quality Assurance process it’s possible to continuously strive for excellence.” NAAC has made plain that it expects the institutions to undertake continuous academic and administrative audits. NAAC has defined academic audit as a scientific and systematic method of reviewing the quality of academic process in the institution. Likewise, administrative audit has been denied as a process of evaluating the efficiency and effectiveness of the administrative procedure. It includes assessment of policies, strategies and functions of the various administrative departments and control of the overall administrative system.  –  Courtesy     /        NAAC Notification – Feedback from stakeholders on format of QIF. Please click for details

NAAC suspends application process to undergo overhaul

The New Indian Express | By PTI  | 16th April 2017  |

HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar had directed that the grading system must be reworked.

NEW DELHI: The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), which accredits institutions of higher education in the country, has suspended the application process till the grading system undergoes an overhaul. Following complaints of subjectivity in the accreditation process by the NAAC and corruption or misconduct by peer teams during their field visits, the HRD Ministry had directed the council to rework on the assessment framework to bring in transparency, objectivity and technology.  “HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar had directed that the grading system must be reworked and hence to bring a new system in place it was necessary to suspend the application process for some time. “Therefore, the receipt of applications for the current assessment has been stopped from March 31 till further announcement,” a senior HRD Ministry official said.

Javadekar will also chair a national consultative meeting on revised accreditation framework on April 25 where over 200 educationists and experts are expected to meet in Delhi to discuss the proposed changes. According to the new assessment, the institutions will not know in advance which team will visit them and the accommodation and travel plans of the peer team visit will be outsourced.  “The peer team’s assessment of the institutions will be also be given just 20 per cent weightage instead of the 100 per cent at present in deciding the grade for an institution and 80 per cent of the weightage will be registered through the Information Communication and Technology (ICT),” the official added. The application process is likely to resume in July with the launch of new accreditation framework. –  Courtesy

NAAC asked to rework accreditation process for higher education institutes

The Times of India | Manash Pratim Gohain | TNN |  Apr 10, 2017 |

NEW DELHI: To do away with “corruption” and subjectivity in assessment and grading of higher education institutions, the ministry of human resource development has asked for a complete overhaul of the accreditation process by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) from July 2017.  Following complaints of corruption by the council’s peer team, the ministry asked NAAC to work towards bringing transparency, objectivity and technology into the grading system.   As per the new methodology, the peer team assessment of institutions will be given just 20% weightage instead of the current 100% in deciding the grade of an institution.

 Moreover, no institution will know in advance which team will visit them and the accommodation and travel plans of the peer team visit will be outsourced.  Major (80%) weightage of the grade will be decided based on technical and objective inputs via use of Information Communication and Technology (ICT). These and many more changes, said officials, are in the pipeline in the accreditation process of higher education institutions in order to bring in transparency, objectivity and technology in the assessment and grading. “There have been complaints from institutions against the conduct of the assessors who are part of the peer team. Therefore, union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar has taken personal interest in qualitative improvement of the grading system,” said a senior official. –  Courtesy

Can India’s universities improve? NAAC Accreditation body ties up with US group to up standards

Hindustan Times |  March 15, 2017 |  Gauri Kohli  |  New Delhi |

The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), an assessment and accreditation body for higher education institutions in India, has signed a memorandum of affiliation with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) International Quality Group (CIQG) of the US.  CHEA is a US-based organisation of colleges and universities serving as the national advocate for voluntary self-regulation through accreditation.  CIGQ is a forum for colleges, universities, accrediting and quality assurance organisations worldwide to address issues and challenges focused on quality and quality assurance in an international ­setting.  Under this agreement, the two bodies will share best practices in assessment and accreditation, exchange resources and expertise, case studies and will also engage in joint activities such as peer visits of experts to institutions from one country to the other. The group comprises experts from over 40 countries who will regularly share practices and assessment tools, among other things.  It is designed to engage quality assurance and accrediting organisations, higher education providers, organisations and governments in a shared effort to affirm and promote quality in higher education.  Prof DP Singh, director, NAAC, calls it a “step further in making Indian assessment and accreditation practices at par with global standards. The Council is also working with accreditation agencies from around the world to achieve this. Such initiatives will encourage more Indian institutions to go for NAAC accreditation, especially as the University Grants Commission has made it mandatory as it helps an institute get autonomous status. Consistent top grades by the Council will also help institutions improve their performance on the HRD ministry’s National Institutional Ranking Framework. This in turn will enable students make an informed choice about the university or college they wish to join. It will also help institutions improve their enrolment and placements.”

The agreement also states that both NAAC and CHEA will work along the lines of the core principles of the CHEA International Quality Group, a global network of quality assurance and accreditation bodies. This involves working with higher education providers and their leadership, staff and students for the implementation of processes, tools and benchmarks to improve quality.  CHEA and CIQG provide a forum for colleges and universities, accrediting and quality assurance organisations, higher education associations and governments to address issues and challenges for quality assurance in an international setting. At meetings, in webinars and through publications and presentations, CIQG members exchange information and ideas on common interests and concerns including student learning outcomes, new modes of educational delivery, international quality expectation, the role of government, etc.  “As a CIQG member, NAAC has played an active role in this conversation about quality assurance internationally. The memorandum of affiliation is designed to engage quality assurance and accrediting organisations in a shared effort to affirm and promote fundamental principles for higher education quality. The CIQG helps build principles that can be used internationally to advance quality assurance,” says a CHEA spokesperson. –  Courtesy

Secrecy about process of accrediting colleges is baffling

  |  By DR AMBROSE PINTO | Opinion |

NAAC’s idea of IEQA flawed; it’s a quiz where you aren’t told the answers. An objective assessment would show that an automated reply can’t be charged Rs 28,000

For all new colleges seeking assessment, National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NACC) has a rigorous process. The colleges have to write a letter of intent, first making clear their intention to go for accreditation. They then have to pay a sum of Rs 28,000 and electronically answer some questions. This is known as IEQA (institutional eligibility for quality assurance). An automated message whether the college has made it or not for assessment is received within a few minutes of sending the form. How good is this practice? NAAC has always claimed to be a quality institution with transparency and accountability. In such an institution, the parameters for assessment for new colleges should have been placed on the website. Only those who meet the criteria could have been asked to go for assessment. That would have made NAAC credible and transparent.  Why has NAAC adopted the automated process? If a college clears the IEQA, it is permitted to submit its self-study report. If it does not, the money is not refunded. By all standards, this is an unethical practice. An institution can charge an amount proportionate to its service. In this instance, an objective assessment will tell the public that an automated reply cannot be charged Rs 28,000. This is purely profit-making. NAAC has said in a press statement that 50 per cent of colleges do not make the grade at the first instance.

One can imagine the amount of money NAAC makes out of this exercise. Every year, hundreds of colleges fail to make the grade.  And why do institutions fail? There is a total secrecy in the whole process of IEQA. The marks allotted to each question have been a secret. NAAC has refused to divulge the right answers. The automated reply informs the colleges that they should improve and apply after six months.  In a democratic society, every institution has a right to know the deficiencies of the institution so that they can correct, improve and develop. NAAC was established to improve quality. If NAAC wanted colleges to improve after the colleges had not made the grade, NAAC has a responsibility to instruct the colleges, areas in which they had to improve. If these colleges fail for the second time, then NAAC should partly blamed, for its inadequate guidance. However, NAAC has refused to divulge the marking system or provide feedback despite requests.  It is only after St Aloysius Degree College, Bengaluru, filed an RTI that NAAC parted with the information on the markings a few days ago. Sri Wahidul Hasan, public information officer of NAAC through his letter dated on February 2, 2017 provided the information asked for. However, his note says that “the minimum eligibility criteria to each of the indicators mentioned in IEQA should score 4 points in college details and 36 points in institutional data”. To get those four marks is not easy simply because at least six out of ten questions asked are illogical and against the law. Several questions carry no marks.

These are:
* If an institution exists for more than ten years, one mark is allotted. But according to NAAC guidelines, eligibility for assessment is “if two batches of students have graduated”. What is the rationale for providing one mark for institutions in existence for more than ten years? In fact, delays should not be rewarded. If a mark had to be awarded, it should have been for colleges who go for accreditation soon after five years.

* Location of the college is given one mark provided the college is located in a semi-urban, rural, tribal or hilly region. What is the reason for denying a mark for urban colleges? There cannot be a principle of reservation for assessment for rural colleges since assessment is mandatory for all colleges. It sounds ridiculous that NAAC, which claims to be a qualitative institution, could even think of a trick like this to be corrupt.

* If an institution is permanently affiliated, it gets a mark. The UGC has laid down in the following the norm that permanent affiliation is only after NAAC accreditation. http://www.ugc.ac.in/oldpdf/regulations/gazetteofIndia24-04-12.pdf

* Women’s colleges are offered a mark. While reservation for women is an appreciable step, to give one mark for a women’s college and to exclude others in assessment is discriminatory.

* Recognition under 2f & 12B gets a mark. Under the amended UGC Act 1956, 2f and 12 B is offered only after permanent affiliation, possible after NAAC assessment.

* Number of degrees offered. If a college has both UG and PG, a mark is given. Universities permit only NAAC-accredited colleges to start PG. Besides, at no place does the accreditation manual mention that a college should have PG course for accreditation.

Observations
a. Those who formulated the questions would surely have known the rules and regulations of the UGC, and state universities. One gets the impression that the practice was deliberately planned with ulterior motives. More than 50 per cent of the institutions do not make the grade. One could easily imagine the money NAAC makes out of it.

b. A comparative study of 10 institutions has revealed that some institutions do not have the required eligibility and yet have been assessed. When enquired with, the regional coordinator replied to us that NAAC works on trust and they do not take responsibility for false information provided. It is a strange logic by an institution that informs colleges that they would be checking on the data during self-assessment and institutions that have not provided the right answers would be penalised. To an objective analyst it means that there are other means of clearing the IEQA.

c. Finally, one wonders why NAAC has this practice at all! NAAC could very well tell colleges the requirement for applying for assessment and those who do not meet the required levels do not have to apply. NAAC is for assessment and not for non-assessment. It needs to restrict itself to assess by placing on its website the basic requirements.

According to NAAC authorities, “IEQA is to make sure how the institution understands itself; its strengths, weaknesses, potentials and limitations”. This is pure rhetoric.
It is unfortunate that NAAC does not have the capacity or competence to do it since it has primarily failed in its own role of understanding its own strengths and weaknesses. What is required at this juncture is a thorough cleansing of NAAC. After years of evaluating others, it is time that NAAC is evaluated. There still are good persons in the system. If there is a strong political will, NAAC can become a catalyst of change again. –  (Dr Ambrose Pinto SJ is principal of St Aloysius Degree College, Bengaluru)  –  Courtesy

Don’t link grades with the grants: Prof D P Singh, NAAC director

Bangalore Mirror Bureau | Jan 7, 2017  |   Mihika Basu |

For the first time perhaps, the director of the country’s National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), Bengaluru, has said that grades from accreditation agencies must not be linked with grants as it “shifts the focus from process and quality to just outcomes (grades)”. The University Grants Commission (Mandatory Assessment and Accreditation of higher Educational Institutions), Regulations, 2012, made it mandatory for higher educational institutions to get accredited by the accreditation agency after passing out of two batches or six years, in order to be eligible for applying or receiving financial assistance from the Commission under any of its schemes.

“It is my individual opinion that grades should not be linked with grants. When a decision-making body has to take a decision to give funds for a project, only at that point, the grade is considered. So if an important decision has to be taken, it should be taken right at the beginning, at the policy level. Else, an institution ends up working mechanically towards a grade to get funds for a specific project,” Prof D P Singh, NAAC director, told Bangalore Mirror. He was speaking on the sidelines of a session on the role of accreditation in enhancement of quality education and research at the Indian Science Congress, on Friday. Prof Singh further said that a major limitation in the accreditation process is that weaker institutions do not submit their applications for the process, unless forced by the state, so that the institution can get grants under various schemes. “There is also no support for strengthening weaker institutions. This needs to change,” he added. Currently, NAAC accreditation is valid for five years, and institutes are graded on a seven-point scale. It includes 32 key aspects and 196 key indicators.  According to NAAC data, during the pre-mandatory period (1999-2012), 6,402 colleges and 251 universities had been accredited. –  Courtesy

IITs loath to take up accreditation role

The Telegraph | BASANT KUMAR MOHANTY |  January 2 , 2017  |

New Delhi, Jan. 1: The Indian Institutes of Technology have expressed concern over the human resource development ministry’s proposal that they help assess and accredit institutions on quality criteria. After the ministry disclosed plans to start accreditation centres in the premier tech schools and in the Indian Institutes of Management, the matter was discussed at an IIT directors’ meeting in IIT Kanpur on December 12. Several directors were sceptical about the IITs taking on the role of accreditation agencies like the National Board of Accreditation (NBA), which accredits engineering and management programmes, and the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), which accredits general colleges and universities. Some directors said the proposed role would dilute the tech schools’ core mandate of teaching and research in technical education. But they agreed to provide “limited” assistance and expertise so that their core functions would remain unaffected.

HRD minister Prakash Javadekar has been advocating making the IITs parallel assessors alongside the NBA and the NAAC. In a written reply in the Lok Sabha on December 5, junior HRD minister Mahendra Nath Pandey said: “Government had a proposal to create reliable accreditation centres in IITs, IIMs. Details in this regard are being worked out.” The aim of setting up such accreditation centres is to assist existing agencies like the NBA and the NAAC to speed up the accreditation process. The centres would assess colleges and universities based on the accreditation process of the NBA and the NAAC, Pandey said. IIT Kanpur director Indranil Manna said the IITs should not be made part of any agency for the purpose of accreditation. “We are not averse to contributing to the national cause. But we do not want to be part of any agency,” Manna said. He said the core mandate of the IITs was teaching and research, not accreditation. “We may mentor or help in assessment. We cannot operate like a dedicated agency. We can play a limited role in this,” Manna said.

IIT Madras director Bhaskar Ramamurthi said the IITs could play a limited role by assessing the academic aspects of institutions. Accreditation involves assessing physical infrastructure as well as faculty, lab facilities and the academic curriculum. “There are a lot of experienced teachers in the IITs. They can help in validating the academic aspects of courses and the curriculum. But I do not know if the IITs can become accreditation agencies,” Ramamurthi said. The University Grants Commission, the higher education regulator, has objected to involving IITs in accreditation work, saying it should remain with institutions like the NAAC and the NBA.  ministry official said the new role was being proposed for the IITs and the IIMs because of heavy load on the two existing agencies. There are 38,000 general colleges, 4,000 engineering colleges and 800 universities in the country. The rate of accreditation of courses or institutions is abysmal in India. Only 20 per cent of the engineering programmes offered by the 4,000 colleges have so far got accreditation from the NBA.

Also, many institutions are not eligible to apply for accreditation as they do not fulfil minimum requirements like 50 per cent admission in every programme, at least one professor or one associate professor in a department and 10 per cent faculty with PhD qualification. The functioning of the NAAC has come under scrutiny after it gave Grade A to 17 deemed universities which were declared “unworthy” of a deemed tag by a separate review committee headed by P.N. Tandon. The ministry wants to involve more organisations in accreditation work so that the load will be shared and competition will bring an improvement in accreditation standards. Ministry officials attended the IIT directors’ meeting and explained the proposal. The IIT asked the officials to work out details about their role. The ministry is likely to hold a meeting with the UGC, NAAC, NBA and the All India Council of Technical Education to finalise a framework for an accreditation role for the IITs and the IIMs. –  Courtesy

HRD Minister bats for autonomy for colleges

The Hindu | Special Correspondent |

More institutions should seek autonomy, as it brings responsibility and lifts the quality of education, Union Minister for Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar said here on Saturday.  At the 90th year celebrations of PSG & Sons’ Charities, the Minister said the Government’s intention and policy was to grant complete autonomy to institutions that want it so that the quality of education could be improved. “I want more institutes to come forward to become autonomous,” he said. It will give a sense of responsibility and ownership and the institutes will develop quality education system, better teaching systems, good laboratories, etc., and there will be a greater learning process. The students will have more hands-on experience and will become skilled, empowered, and employable,” he said. The Government has put out the draft guidelines for development of world-class institutes. Educational institutions should go through it and give their suggestions for modifications. The Government is looking at greater autonomy and freedom and lesser regulation for educational institutions that provide good quality education. It will be 50 per cent regulation and autonomy for the average institutions and 90 per cent regulation for those with poor quality education. The criteria for this will not be based on NAAC ranking but a national ranking framework, which will be the benchmark. He urged the institutions to participate in the ranking as it is a robust system.

There are nearly 50 million students in college streams in the country. Many institutions just provide degrees and do not give the students hands-on experience and there is no teaching – learning experience.  Hence, when industries recruit candidates they train them again to become employable. Institutions that provide quality education and all stakeholders of higher education should come forward and tell the Government about those with bad practices so that the Government takes note and acts against them.  G.R. Karthikeyan, founder trustee of PSG & Sons’ Charities, said the Government should classify some of the institutions, based on specific criteria, similar to National Institute of Technology, and provide more autonomy. It will enable growth of quality engineering education.  L. Gopalakrishnan, Managing Trustee of PSG & Sons’ Charities, said the alumni of PSG Institutions have come forward to establish a foundation to support several activities, including setting up of a science and technology museum. –  Courtesy