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NIRF (National Institutional Ranking Framework) ranking process initiated amidst confusion

The Times of India |

AURANGABAD: The registration for the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) is scheduled to start on November 2, but colleges have sought clarity on whether the assessment would be in addition to the evaluation being carried out through existing frameworks. The NIRF has been introduced by the ministry of human resource development to rank higher educational institutions in the country. The ministry has sought participation of institutions, which are accredited/affiliated to the AICTE/UGC under the new system by making available a web-based platform.

“The National Institutional Ranking Framework has been launched to rank higher educational institutions based on objective, verifiable criteria. The ranking system is expected to promote excellence in education in a competitive environment,” an MHRD note reads. The registration window is available at nirfindia.org from November 2, it adds. TOI, on October 5, had reported about the methodology of NIRF that broadly assesses institutions on “Teaching, Learning and Resources,” “Research and Professional Practices,” “Graduation Outcomes,” “Outreach and Inclusivity,” and “Perception”.  Management representative of an engineering institution said it was not clear on the part of the ministry whether the NIRF assessment is in addition to existing assessment frameworks. “The MHRD is apparently silent on this aspect. At the time of opening registration windows, it should have clarified it,” he said.

The authorities from the Directorate of Technical Education (DTE), however, pleaded ignorance and refused to comment on clarification sought by colleges. Legal expert in education field Ravi Bharadwaj said instead of developing a new framework, it would have been more prudent on the part of the MHRD to strengthen and consolidate the existing system of accreditation. “Our higher education system has NAAC and NBA as accreditation agencies, which evaluates institutions on scientific parameters. Another sort of burden would be created through the NIRF,” he said. The number of campus placements, opportunities of higher studies and entrepreneurship, claim over intellectual property rights and patents, facilities for sports and extra-curricular activities and representation of women among other key indicators would soon reflect in ranking of engineering and management institutes as proposed in the NIRF. In a statement, HRD minister Smriti Irani has said that the primary purpose of the ranking framework is to galvanise Indian institutions towards a competitive environment that exists world today. “Clear definition and identification of key parameters can help institutions to work sincerely towards improving ranking,” she had said. – Courtesy  /  https://www.nirfindia.org/Home    /      MHRD: Registration window for participating institutions to register themselves at www.nirfindia.org is available from 2nd November 2015   – (113.07 KB)

Ranking of higher education institutions

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

Separate government-monitored ranking system for Indian institutions

The Calcutta Telegraph |  September 9 , 2015 | Basant Kumar Mohanty | Desi ranking for institutes |

New Delhi, Sept. 8: IIT Kharagpur or IIT Bombay? Is IIM Ahmedabad really the best among India’s B-schools? Prospective students and their parents who have been trying to figure out the answers may have to wait till early next year. That’s when the first government-monitored ranking of institutions should be out. The human resource development ministry is ready with a set of criteria to rank higher education institutions that mainly teach engineering, management, humanities and law, sources said, adding the exercise would be launched later this month. They said a panel of experts had prepared the criteria, following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s stress on a separate ranking system for Indian institutions. The parameters include teaching and learning, research, professional practice and collaborative performance, placement, outreach and inclusiveness and peer perception.

International agencies like the Times Higher Education (THE) or Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) use similar parameters like citations per faculty or per paper, academic reputation, research publications, teaching and learning activities, international mix of staff and students and industry linkage. But Indian institutions – which hardly figure among the world’s top 200 ranked by the QS or THE – have been arguing that the criteria used by the international agencies don’t capture the socio-economic role they play in terms of taking education to disadvantaged sections through benefits like reservation and interest-free loans. Phil Baty, the London-based THE’s ranking editor, welcomed the government’s move but said leading Indian universities must ensure that they continue to have “ambitions to compete on a world stage”. “They need to be sure they are keeping up with the rest of the world and always, looking outwards, not inwards,” he said in an email response. While Baty said the parameters prepared by the Indian government appeared to be “very sensible”, C. Raj Kumar, vice-chancellor of OP Jindal Global University, questioned the need for India-specific criteria. “There is no point reinventing the wheel. The international parameters are already there,” he said.

Joanna Newman, vice-principal, international, King’s College London, disagreed. Newman, now in Delhi to attend a seminar on “Globally connected universities”, said the Indian ranking system was a step towards improving quality. “I think ranking parameters can never be perfect. But ranking is certainly a tool to indicate broadly where a institution is lagging behind and what it needs to do,” she said. Members of the panel that has prepared the criteria said the National Board of Accreditation would assess and rank engineering and management institutes while the National Assessment and Accreditation Council would rank those that teach humanities and law. All engineering institutes, including the IITs, will participate in the exercise that would involve two categories of rankings – one for those run by the government and another for the private ones. The first list should be out by February. – Courtesy

HRD Ministry to unveil a framework to rank higher education institutions : Economic Times – By Anubhuti Vishnoi, ET Bureau | 9 Sep, 2015 |

NEW DELHI: Smriti Irani’s human resources development ministry will this month unveil a framework to rank the nation’s higher education institutions, giving local students a first-of-its-kind alternative to global rankings where Indian colleges often end way too low.  The ‘India-Centric Ranking Framework’ will factor in countryspecific considerations – such as the emphasis on inclusive education through reservation – to come up with the ranking of state-run and private institutes, said people with knowledge of the matter. The government-backed rankings will cover all institutes offering courses on engineering, law, management and humanities. The HRD ministry is expected to publish the first Indian academic ranking list by January-February 2016.

The ministry didn’t respond to queries sent to spokesman Ghanshyam Goel through the PIB. Indian institutions are routinely ranked below 200th in well-known global academic rankings such as the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the Quacquarelli Symonds rankings and China’s Shanghai Rankings.  The ministry had even held consultations with QS and Times ranking authorities to look at how to improve the rankings. Efforts have been on for years to develop an Indian academic ranking.  While the University Grants Commission had started discussions with the National Assessment & Accreditation Council way back in 2009, they had never gone further. The process was given a push after Irani took over at the HRD ministry.  A committee which had on board National Board of Accreditation Chairman (NBA) Surendra Prasad, IIT-Kharagapur Director PP Chakraborty, IIT-Madras Director Bhaskar Ramamurthi, besides the higher education secretary and HRD ministry officials, helped formulate the ranking framework. “This is a scientifically designed ranking framework based on objective and authentic parameters,” a committee member told ET on the condition of anonymity. NBA Chairman Prasad said the HRD ministry has to now make a decision. “We submitted the draft to the HRD ministry and they may or may not accept it. It was done at the behest of the HRD ministry and they alone can decide on the ranking framework.

Under the India Centric Ranking Framework, the key parameters on which an academic institute will be assessed are: teaching-learning; research; collaborative practice and professional performance; graduate outcomes; placements; outreach and inclusive action and peer group perception. Each of these has been further subdivided into nearly 20 sub criteria to comprehensively assess an institute.  Keeping in mind India-specific concerns, one of the key parameters is outreach and inclusive action, which will assess institutes on affirmative action and steps taken to reach out students from disadvantaged sections of society. Among the sub criteria are factors like the percentage of students from outside the immediate vicinity of the institute – to assess the student composition. Global academic rankings place considerable emphasis on the global character of any institute and the number of students and faculty it is able to draw from across the globe. The rankings will be driven through a web-based portal wherein each institute will be able to furnish information. This will be supplemented by an inspection committee system to ensure authenticity of information furnished. – Courtesy

Here’s why education startups are gamechangers in India : EPaathSala – cloud based software for accreditation

Economic Times | By Malavika Murali, ET Bureau | 24 Jul, 2015 |

BENGALURU: Suman Nandy, 35, returned to Bengaluru from the US after a six-year stint at investment banking firm Goldman Sachs to launch a business that would offer corporate compliance enterprise software to companies. Among his clients was Koshys Group of Institutions, whose Executive Director Preenand Premachandran approached him and asked if his software could help in easing the processes required for the institutions’ accreditation. This marked the first break for Nandy’s EPaathSala, which decided to focus on simplified educational compliance management. Accreditation refers to the process of evaluation of higher institutes and colleges, a mandatory practice across the globe. An institute is graded on multiple parameters such as prevalence of infrastructure, staff training, student learning and registrar activities, and presented with a grade, or in India a cumulative grade point average out of four. The evaluation, usually done by governmental and/or non-governmental institutions, plays a key role in student admissions, getting grants and campus placements by companies. The higher the grade or grade-point average, the better for the college and its students. “It is the need of the hour. With thousands of colleges in the country, there is no organised and time-effective method of completing the processes for accreditation, which are crucial to both the college and its students,” said Nandy whose company counts nearly 400 colleges as clients in less than a year of its launch. The list includes St Xaviers College, Don Bosco Institute of Technology and Pune-based College of Military Engineering.

Nandy said that while there is no dearth of autonomous bodies in India that dole out merit, the National Assessment and Accreditation Council or NAAC under the University Grants Commission (UGC) of India is the most soughtafter organisation. The NAAC accreditation is valid for five years, after which the college has to resume the processes of applying and receiving the accreditation again. “What took close to a year can now be done in a week’s time,” said Mohammed Hanif, senior professor, placement cell coordinator and former coordinator of the Internal Quality Assessment Cell Coordinator (IQAC), in charge of preparing and submitting the report to NAAC, at St Xaviers College, Kolkata. “The processes that a college has to follow to submit to the council are extremely time-consuming. The Self Study Report (SSR) is the main document which involves faculty staff and students to fill in details about their progress and academic excellence, prepared automatically, as and when the details are filled, a process that was done manually so far,” said Hanif, who has helped several tier two and three colleges go about their accreditation process with the company’s software. Often, colleges find it hard to collect data on one platform when it is done manually, given the magnitude of students and staff members. Institutions deploy a team of professors who go about this process manually, hire a consultant, which is not entertained or use other enterprise software, capable of collating data when fed to it.- Courtesy  /  www.epaathsala.com/

‘Engineering colleges need global outlook’ : International accreditation was needed for institutes to be at par with engineering institutes at a global level

The Times of India |

COIMBATORE: Tamil Nadu has the highest number of engineering institutions in the country but academics and industry experts constantly point to their lack of quality and adherence to international standards of education. While some private universities have obtained accreditation from foreign agencies, many are still making efforts to achieve this. On Friday, experts from Institutions of Engineering and Technology (IET), headquartered in UK, organised a panel discussion with experts to discuss the need for international accreditation and improving quality by industry-institute interaction. Experts agreed that the international accreditation was needed for institutes to be at par with engineering institutes at a global level.

Professor emeritus, University of Westminster, UK, Dik Morling, who is visiting engineering institutions across the country to help them get accreditation from the British agency, said, “I have visited a dozen universities since January 2015. What I understand is that Most private universities are making sincere efforts to obtain accreditation.” “Accreditation will help them get recognition among top engineering institutes in the world, and will enable interaction and sharing of ideas,” he said. Morling, his support staff and panel members have accommodated the students’ point of view while visiting universities for accreditation. “At the end of the day, it is for the benefit of the students that this process is being carried out, and thus it is important for us to get their feedback, too,” he said.
The accreditation is a four-step process where the institute first becomes affiliated to IET, and then submits initial information for review. “Following this, an advisory visit is made by two experienced academics. We guide the university through the process an advise them on the requirements,” said Morling. A final visit is paid by four UK accreditators for three days. The accreditation is valid for five years.  C Muthamizhchelvan, director, faculty of engineering and technology, SRM University, Chennai, was talked about the need for industry-institute interaction. “The industry is a part of academia. It is required for students to be aware of the industry needs and be trained accordingly. SRM has tied up with some industries in Chennai region that train our students for the industry requirement,” said Muthamizhchelvan.

 

Engineering Colleges Told to Follow ABET accreditation

The New Indian Express | By Express News Service | 25th February 2015 |

TIRUPATI: The department of mechanical engineering, Madanapalle Institute of Technology & Science (MITS), Madanapalle, has organised a national-level one-day workshop on “ABET Accreditation and Preparing for Accreditation” under TEQIP-II on Tuesday. Nearly 50 faculty members attended the workshop from various engineering colleges in the country.

Claire Komives, professor, San Jose State University (SJSU), USA, was the resource person for the programme. The workshop dealt with what ABET looks for in a college to give accreditation and how the colleges can prepare themselves to build the criteria stipulated by ABET to award accreditation. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology Inc (ABET) is a non-governmental organisation that accredits degree programmes in applied science, computing, engineering and engineering technology, mainly in the US. Now, institutions outside the US are also seeking accreditation of ABET since it serves as a strong evidence of the high quality of engineering programmes offered by institutions. While addressing the participants, Claire Komives said it was important to impart world-class education to the students of engineering and technology. She added that countries like the USA, UK and Australia are adopting the ABET method of teaching to enhance quality of education. She emphasised that colleges in India need to adopt this method. It is very important to design programmes well in advance and teach the students. C Yuvaraj, principal of MITS participated.  Courtesy

Getting real about rankings; Indian ranking system

The Hindu | October 22, 2014  | Philip G. Altbach |

Creating a grading mechanism for Indian universities from scratch, particularly in a large, complex, and a disorganised system, is a massive challenge.

Human Resources Development Minister Smriti Irani has announced that India will develop a national rankings system for its universities. In principle, this is a good idea. International rankings do not entirely suit Indian realities, and India has done abysmally in them. Further, providing benchmarks to measure the productivity of Indian universities and creating a sense of movement and competition among them is laudable.

An optimistic exercise

The challenge of actually creating rankings that will be based on real and relevant data is immense. It is worth thinking about the problems before plunging into uncharted territory. The experience of some other countries is not especially favourable. A few years ago, the Russians, stung by the poor showing of their universities in international rankings, created an international ranking system of their own. Unsurprisingly, Russian universities did quite well. However, no one, even in Russia, believed the results of this ranking and the project disappeared. The Bertelsmann Foundation in Germany has been working for almost a decade on a non-ranking compilation of German institutions that has been widely praised. But it has taken a long time. Even the influential U.S. News and World Report ranking in the U.S., now in its 30th year, is regularly criticised for methodological and other failings. The goal of creating and implementing an Indian ranking, for release in December 2015, seems overly optimistic. It is crucial to “get it right” the first time. If the Indian ranking system is seriously flawed in its design, methodology, data, or interpretation, it will be picked apart and immediately lose credibility. Creating a ranking from scratch — particularly for an academic system as large, complex, and in many ways as disorganised as India — is a massive challenge.

The challenges

Reports indicate that the main responsibility for developing the ranking, scope and methodology will be in the hands of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). While they are distinguished, they are not universities but rather specialised technology institutions, and are unfamiliar with the broader university context. Further, they have no special expertise on higher education — a requirement to develop a good ranking system. A very substantial problem in India is the lack of data on many aspects of higher education. Even basic up-to-date statistical information is often lacking. Without reliable data on all of the aspects of ranking from all of the universities included, the rankings will have limited value. Will the rankings include India’s 35,000 colleges? The vast majority of students attend these institutions. Almost all are affiliated to a university, but there are significant variations in quality, focus, and orientation among the colleges affiliated to any single university. Many will lack good data. It is impossible to generalise about more than one hundred colleges affiliated to a university. If the rankings include only universities, they will be of limited relevance to much of the public. Some of the metrics that are proposed for measurement (such as ranking of social roles of universities) are impossible to measure. How will social roles be defined? Further, there is no data available, regardless of the definitions. Other global and national rankings have struggled with measuring teaching quality; no one has solved this dilemma. Some of the rankings use such proxies as the teacher/student ratio and similar relatively easy factors, but these do not measure actual quality. All of the global rankings include publications and research funding as key productivity factors for universities. Most rankings count articles in internationally respected journals, included in the Science Citation Index or their humanities or social science equivalents. They then include citation rates and other criteria of actual use of the publications. The problem is that few Indian journals are included in the international indexes and there are no Indian equivalents that can be easily included. It would be possible to create such indices, but this will take both time and money. At present, there is no accurate way of evaluating either the scope or the influence of the publications of Indian academics.

Similarly, there are not easily available data sources for research funding or patent development, although these would be easier for universities to develop if careful criteria are put into place. The data collection challenges for universities will be quite substantial — there is only limited information currently available. In many countries, most universities have institutional research offices that are responsible for data collection and analysis and are able to provide information on a range of topics required by ranking agencies, quality assurance authorities, and the government. India does not have a tradition of institutional research — although building such offices is a key requirement of professionalising the work of universities. Internationalisation will be one of the criteria for excellence in the rankings. Indian universities are just now recognising the importance of internationalisation and will score poorly, at least in the short run. Few have a strategy to engage with the rest of the world, and the numbers of international students and staff in most institutions are quite small. Will the private higher education sector be included in the rankings? A few of the private institutions are innovative and may score well, although most will not. These universities may have less data available than their public counterparts, and some may be reluctant to report accurate statistics.

A lost cause?

The idea of rankings is a good one. Rankings will stimulate the further professionalisation of Indian academe. Rankings will create a sense of competitiveness in the system; they will help build a differentiated academic system with a few internationally recognised research-intensive universities and a much larger number of institutions that will focus mainly on teaching. But implementation will not be easy. Those involved must be realistic about what is involved, what the costs will be, and how much time and energy will be required. If published reports and public statements are any guidelines, realism is not part of current thinking or planning. (Philip G. Altbach is research professor and director of the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College, U.S.)

Courtesy

Accreditation to become mandatory for distance education centres

DNA Analysis | Tuesday, 8 July 2014 | Kanchan Srivastava

There is good news for all those who wish to enrol for distance education courses of open universities or open and distance learning institutes (ODL) of universities. To enhance recognition and value of distance learning programs, the centre has proposed mandatory accreditation for all ODL centres and open universities in the country.

The proposal was tabled at the conference of vice chancellors of open universities in Delhi on June 26 by ministry of human resources and development (MHRD).

Prof Hari Chandan, director, Institute of Distance and Open Learning (IDOL) of University of Mumbai, who attended the conference, told dna: “With accreditation system in place, MHRD aims to upgrade the value of distance education.”

It would enable institutions to raise their profiles, promote academic programmes, enhance faculty and learner strength, and grow in substantial ways while keeping a check on the standard of learning, he added.

Currently, distance programmes are being offered to more than 2.5m learners, who constitute nearly 25% of the total students in higher education. However, there are no checks and balances on the quality of education or infrastructure due to absence of an accreditation system.

Most established open varsities abroad such as UK Open University (UKOU) and Hong Kong Open University ((HKOU)) have well-established systems of accreditation.

Accreditation has been mandatory for formal higher education institutions in India for a decade now. Going a step ahead, these institutes are now going for course-wise accreditation as mandated by the UGC a year ago.

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Get NAAC Accreditation for Fund Flow, Varsities Told ; Odisha

By Express News Service | Published: 02nd July 2014.

BHUBANESWAR: It is now mandatory for the State Government-run universities to get themselves and their affiliated colleges accreditated from National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) if they want funds to flow from the University Grants Commission (UGC). NAAC grades are based on the quality of higher education institution.

Department of Higher Education (DHE) on Tuesday directed Vice-Chancellors (VCs) of Fakir Mohan University, North Orissa University, Utkal University, Berhampur University, Sambalpur University, Ravenshaw University and all the affiliated colleges under them to get their NAAC grades updated at the earliest.

Apparently, grades of many of the universities except North Odisha University have expired and they are yet to reaccredit themselves. North Odisha University’s NAAC grade ‘B’ is valid till December next year.

UGC this year had informed these universities that it is now mandatory for them to apply for assessment and accreditation as stipulated in the UGC Regulations, 2012 (mandatory assessment and accreditation of higher educational institutions) by June 1, 2014. Failure to do so may lead to discontinuation of financial assistance by UGC from April 1, 2015. However, none of these institutions has responded to the directive yet.

The decision holds significance with the State Government planning to implement Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA). Under RUSA, any Government-run higher education institution without NAAC accreditation will not receive funding.

Major part of the funding of Government run higher education institutions were taken over by RUSA from the UGC last year.

In a directive to the institutions on Tuesday, Secretary of Higher Education Department Gagan Dhal asked the VCs and principals to send their letter of intention (LoI) to the accreditation agency immediately and prepare self-study report for submission within six months. Further, they have to establish internal quality assurance cells which would look into the issue. “We have been asking these institutions to update their NAAC grades, which are essential for quality assurance, for the last one year. But many of them have not taken the issue seriously. They will not get any fund from either UGC or RUSA unless they undergo assessment by NAAC,” said Dhal.

He added that as getting accreditation takes time, the institutions have to send their LoIs for accreditation soon so that the UGC considers their case before implementation of RUSA.

Of 10 State universities, NAAC grades for Utkal, Sambalpur and Berhampur, have expired in 2007. Among the rest, Ravenshaw University, Fakir Mohan University, Sri Jagannath Sanskrit Vishwavidyalaya and Utkal University of Culture are eligible for assessment, but are yet to apply.

Explaining delay in applying for NAAC, Utkal University VC Ashok Das said, “One of our main problems is that many departments are without faculty members. We are trying to meet the criterion identified by NAAC within another six  months and then we will apply for accreditation.”

Courtesy

Global door opens for tech graduates; NBA Engineering

Saturday , June 14 , 2014 | The Telegraph.

BASANT KUMAR MOHANTY

New Delhi, June 13: The door was today opened for lakhs of budding Indian engineers to be able to work or pursue higher studies in countries such as America and Britain without having to undergo fresh assessment.

But only a minority of them will gain immediately. The rest must wait till their engineering colleges can get themselves accredited by the National Board of Accreditation (NBA), which recently upgraded to a set of stricter criteria.

India today became the 16th member of an elite grouping, the Washington Accord, which recognises graduation-level engineering degrees awarded by one another’s accredited institutions as equivalent.

Graduates in traditional engineering programmes —such as civil and electrical engineering or architecture — that have NBA accreditation will now be spared the mandatory entrance test before taking up jobs or university courses in the 15 other member countries.

But BTech degree holders in non-traditional courses such as information technology or computer science will not get the benefit, because the Washington Accord does not cover these.

Till now, only IIT graduates among young Indian engineers were exempt from the entrance tests.

The catch is that among India’s nearly 8,000 engineering colleges, just about 200 now have NBA accreditation. These are mostly state government colleges with a few leading private tech schools.

Even the National Institutes of Technology — central government-run engineering institutes that are a rung below the IITs — lack the NBA stamp.

With today’s development, tech colleges will be under pressure to gain the status to attract the best students. But any overnight change is unlikely because it’s become tougher to get NBA accreditation because of a shift of focus away from infrastructure “inputs”, which money can possibly buy, to academic “outputs” that it can’t.

Rajeev Kumar, an IIT Kharagpur professor who headed the committee that revised the accreditation guidelines, explained the difference.

“Earlier, the NBA focused on factors like infrastructure, funds, the teacher-student ratio, number of labs and the campus area. Under the revised guidelines, the NBA examines the research output, patent generation, publications, etc,” Kumar said.

The upgrade was part of seven years of efforts by the NBA to improve its system since India received provisional membership of the Washington Accord in 2007.

The International Engineering Alliance, an arm of the Washington Accord, sent a team in December-January to review the NBA’s latest system and practices. The team handed in its report in March.

This morning, the Alliance met in Wellington, New Zealand, and gave India the signatory status with effect from today, a government statement said.

“BTech degree holders going to Washington Accord member countries will not be questioned about the credibility of their degrees (any more),” said D.K. Palliwal, former NBA member secretary. It was during his tenure that the NBA changed its accreditation system.

These 15 countries are: America, Britain, Australia, Canada, Russia, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Turkey.

Palliwal spelt out another advantage: “Now, many foreign students will come to India to study engineering because the degrees would be recognised in the developed countries.”

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