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New rule to mandate accreditation for two-thirds programmes in colleges

Times of India | 18 July 2018 |

Chairman of All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) which regulates technical institution across the country Anil Sahasrabudhe believes that a regulator should not limit itself to inspection, it should also be a facilitator. In an interview with TOI, the head of the national-level apex advisory body talks about where engineering colleges are going wrong and why TN colleges are suffering.

Q: AICTE is known to conduct surprise inspections. What were the major problems found during these inspections? A major issue is fake names of faculty members on the list of colleges. Although we have relaxed the student-faculty ratio from 1:15 to 1:20, there have been institutions who don maintain the minimum ratios. Several of these colleges show a ratio of 1:30 or 1:50. Worse, the faculty register has names of people who are not employed by the institute. Last year, more than one lakh names of faculty members were weeded out across colleges after inspections. Now, we have started asking colleges for Aadhaar and PAN cards of teachers so that they cannot show inflated numbers. Another issue is that many of these colleges are not paying salaries of teachers as per the prescribed standard.

Q: What were the problems you encountered while inspecting Tamil Nadu institutions? In the past three to four years, a major concern in the state has been that less than 10% of the seats are filled in many engineering colleges. For any institution to function well, 50% to 60% of the seats need to be filled. This is needed to pay the teachers, maintain equipment and ensure overall quality of the institution. When there are not enough students, the pay of faculty members gets affected, good teachers are not sustained and in turn admissions suffer when the quality goes down. It becomes a cycle. Because colleges do not want to cut down on intake, we are forced to close down institutions. For colleges that are unable to ensure the sufficient number of new entrants, the approval process handbook provides options of starting courses for skill development, applied arts and sciences so as to utilize the existing manpower and resources. However, many are not aware of the guidelines in the handbook.

Q: Do we need a single accreditation body to regulate all institutions? When it comes to technical institutions, we have only two the National Board of Accreditation (for programme-based accreditation) and the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (institution-based accreditation). In the general scenario of education, having multiple agencies is not a bad idea as it may help in simultaneous accreditation of multiple institutions through different agencies given the large number of institutions we have in the country. What we need is a team of people who have integrity and can carry out the process fairly to prevent corruption in these processes.

Q: How important is accreditation in impacting the existence and approval of colleges in future? For the first time, we are going to introduce a rule where colleges may risk losing approval if two-thirds of their programmes are not accredited. Starting from this academic year, the colleges will have four years to achieve this. This is a suggestion that came from the ministry of human resource development. Q: With regard to architecture schools, the council of architecture and AICTE individually carry out inspections. Some schools have been complaining The two bodies should ideally carry out a joint inspection to make the process simpler. We have spoken about this with the council. They initially agreed but somehow it has not translated into practice. The only way forward would be through amendments to the AICTE Act; so that the apex body has full power to carry out inspections across architecture schools.- Courtesy

Accredited courses a must for approval – The Hindu, 18 July 2018

Institutions were given four years to comply, says AICTE

In another four years, it would become mandatory for every institution to get accreditation for 2/3rd of its courses to receive approval, AICTE Chairman Anil D. Sahasrabudhe said here on Tuesday. He was speaking at a workshop for institutions in the five southern States to discuss the feedback on approval process for the current academic year and the suggestions for 2019-2020 at the Anna University. The MHRD and the Niti Aayog had come down heavily on the Council for approving institutions with unaccredited courses, he said. “If of the six programmes in a college four are not accredited, then the approval may be withdrawn. This is a regulation requested by the ministry to be implemented by the AICTE in order to maintain quality of standards in the institution,” he said.

The Chairman said he had sought four years’ time to comply with the requirement. “We told them that overnight it is very difficult to accredit 10,000 institutions,” he said. The Council would facilitate institutions in preparing self-assessment reports. Niti Aayog had also insisted that institutions should put up all details regarding accreditation pending/process on their website, Mr. Sahasrabudhe said. To a complaint from an institution in Udupi that the AICTE’s regional office was unresponsive he said the Council would open a Facebook page for the institutions to discuss with the chairman their issues. On the concern that institutions with a NAAC score of over 3.26 were permitted to start courses and increase intake he said the Council reserved the right to withdraw the approval if written, signed complaints of violation of norms are received. The council had approached the different boards of studies to give their requirements to enable the council ensure that the norms are followed, Mr. Sahasrabudhe said. The Council was working on signing special accords as required for courses such as architecture and pharmacy to improve opportunities for students, he added.Anna University Vice Chancellor M.K. Surappa urged institutions to adhere to the systems and processes and not deviate or dilute the system. – Courtesy

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Job loss fear in Kuwait for Indian engineers

The Telegraph | Basant Kumar Mohanty | Jun 21, 2018 |  Job loss fear in Kuwait |

New Delhi: Thousands of Indian engineers in Kuwait, including IIT graduates, are staring at possible job losses as the Gulf country has decided to recognise degrees only if India’s National Board of Accreditation had approved of the courses they studied. The decision could affect most of the 10,000-odd Indian engineers who have been working in Kuwait for several decades. The Public Authority for Manpower, a government body, had issued a circular in March this year asking the labour department not to give work permits to expatriate engineers unless they got no-objection certificates from the Kuwait Engineers Society. In the case of India, engineers were to be issued no-objection certificates only if the course had been accredited by the National Board of Accreditation (NBA). The NBA accredits engineering courses while the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) accredits universities and general colleges. Some universities also offer engineering courses. Kuwait’s decision could invalidate the BTech degrees awarded by the Indian Institutes of Technology, IISc Bangalore, BITS Pilani, Jadavpur University (JU) and Calcutta University, which offered three-year BTech courses for BSc graduates till recently. The IITs, IISc and JU have never taken accreditation from the NBA for their engineering courses. Many of the National Institutes of Technology (NITs) are yet to take accreditation for their BTech courses. BITS Pilani and JU have accreditation from the NAAC. The Progressive Professional Forum in Kuwait that represents Indian engineers and other professionals has sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention. “The NBA came into existence only in 2010. All institutions, many of them over 50 years old, have been awarding engineering degrees and cannot be expected to have obtained NBA accreditation,” PPF president G. Santhosh Kumar told The Telegraph from Kuwait City.

The NBA, earlier a wing of technical education regulator AICTE, has been in existence since the 1990s but became an autonomous body in 2010. It has so far given accreditation to courses offered by 600 institutions among the 3,500 that teach technical courses. The HRD ministry has taken up the matter with its counterpart in Kuwait. In a recent letter, higher education secretary R. Subrahmanyam said the NBA could not be expected to have given retrospective accreditation. Sources said the government also argued that institutions like the IITs and IISc Bangalore were recognised globally, while calling for the new condition to be withdrawn. NBA chairman Prof. Surendra Prasad declined comment. “Please talk to me later on this issue,” he said. Former NIT Rourkela director Prof. Sunil Sarangi said the NBA was started as part of a quality-control measure. “The NBA is a member of the Washington Accord that facilitates recognition of degrees and mobility of engineers among member countries. All institutions in India should get their courses accredited by the NBA.” A delegation from Kuwait is expected to visit India soon in connection with the issue. – Courtesy

Work visa issue : MHRD writes to Kuwait Government

The New Indian Express | 20 April 2018 |

KOCHI: Taking serious note of Kuwait’s decision that expatriate engineers cannot renew their work visas unless they obtain a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Kuwait Society of Engineers (KSE), the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India, has sent a letter to the Kuwait government stating the graduates from the premier Indian engineering institutions have qualified duly accredited courses. According to Jithin Jose, a mechanical engineer in Kuwait, Raj Gopal Singh, Deputy Chief of Mission, and Yashwant Chatpalliwar, Second Secretary (Community Affairs/Consular), along with representatives of the Kuwait Engineers Forum and Tamil Nadu Engineers Forum visited KSE chairman and held a meeting. “The letter from the MHRD was handed over to the KSE chairman during the meeting. He has promised to discuss the points mentioned in the letter with the Kuwait Ministry,” said Jithin.

In its letter, the MHRD said: “The National Board of Accreditation (NBA) came into being only in 2012. There are many engineers currently working in Kuwait who have secured degrees prior to setting up of NBA. Hence, it is requested the qualification of such engineers may not be questioned at this later stage.” In the letter, it was also highlighted the candidates are admitted to the engineering institutions through highly competitive entrance examinations. – Courtesy

Indian engineers are about to become even more employable abroad

The Print | Kritika Sharma |

Govt to give accreditation to 1,000 programmes at Indian institutions. Under ‘Washington Accord’, this will improve graduates’ chances of foreign placement.

Representational Image

New Delhi: India’s engineering graduates are set to become more employable around the world, with the government agreeing to give globally-accepted accreditation to over 1,000 programmes across institutions in the country. This accreditation will be given by the National Bureau of Accreditation (NBA), a body under the ministry of human resource development, which is part of the ‘Washington Accord’ signed by India in 2014. The accord makes it easier for graduates to get jobs abroad. Some of the programmes covered by the NBA include aeronautical engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering, biomedical engineering, and computer engineering across institutes. The idea is to give accreditation to similar programmes at a larger scale, as well as boosting the chances for graduates to be employed in countries such as Australia, China, South Korea, the US, Britain, Japan and New Zealand. At present, the percentage of graduates who get placed with companies abroad is very low. Even graduates from the premier Indian Institutes of Technology struggle on this count – of the 9,000-10,000 people graduating from the IITs each year, less than 1 per cent get international placement.

How does the accord make things easier?

The Washington Accord recommends that graduates of programmes accredited by any of the signatory bodies will be recognised by the other bodies as having met the academic requirements for entry to the practice of engineering in their area of jurisdiction. The other countries that are signatories to the accord are Australia, Canada, China, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States. For the last four years since the accord was signed, the government had not focussed on giving accreditation to institutions, but this exercise is now underway at a large scale. “We are working on giving accreditation to about 1,000 programmes by the end of the year, which will serve a dual purpose for us. One, it will be a quality control measure that will let us keep a check on the number of programmes, and institutions that are doing well. On the other hand, it will also help in improving job prospects for Indian students internationally,” said a ministry source. – Courtesy

Centre promises help to Indian engineers in Kuwait

The Hindu Business Line | New Delhi, April 4 |

A delegation of Indian engineers in Kuwait, hit by new norms adopted by the host country for residency renewal, has called on Prakash Javadekar, Union Human Resource Development Minister, and Shashi Tharoor, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs, and appraised them of their troubles. The majority of 15,000 Indian engineers working in Kuwait are worried, as the Gulf country suddenly changed the requirement for renewing their residency permits last month. As per the new norms, Indian expat engineers in Kuwait need to get a no objection certificate (NOC) from the Kuwait Society of Engineers (KSE) to extend their stay.  What is bothering them is the fact that KSE plans to grant NOC only after verifying the accreditation of the colleges from which the professionals have graduated. For this, KSE said it would follow the accreditation list of the National Bureau of Accreditation (NBA), which is not a regulatory body unlike the All Indian Council of Technical Education (AICTE). As NBA is of relatively recent origin, most old engineering colleges, including most IITs, did not figure in its list.

The representatives, accompanied by Lok Sabha MPs MB Rajesh and PK Biju, submitted a representation signed by a number of MPs to Javadekar. The latter assured them the Centre will do everything possible to address their grievance. He also said he will explore means to make AICTE, not NBA, the reference body for the accreditation process. Tharoor, on other hand, not only took up the matter with the Indian Ambassador in Kuwait, but also assured them of continued follow-up with the Central government. The engineers were represented by AR Shamnad of Progressive Professional Forum of Kuwait, G Sreekumar of Kuwait Engineers’ Forum and P Sethumadhavan of Tamil Nadu Engineers’ Forum in Kuwait. –  Courtesy

15 percent engineering departments fail to get NBA accreditation

DNA | Kritika Sharma |  Oct 26, 2017 |

For institutions to apply for accreditation, they have to meet certain pre-qualifying criteria with the Board

Fifteen percent of the various departments in engineering colleges across the country have failed to get accreditation from National Board of Accreditation (NBA) in the last two years. NBA accreditation is given to specific programmes run by professional institutions like Engineering, Management and Pharmacy, which then decides government’s criteria of giving more funding for a government institution and increase in seats for private and government institutes. For institutions to apply for accreditation, they have to meet certain pre-qualifying criteria with the Board. According to the data shared by NBA, 10 per cent of the departments that had applied were not even able to fulfil those criteria, which included basis things like having a 1:20 teacher to student ratio, either two professors or one professor and an associate professor in the department. “Everyone is aware that the condition of engineering education is not good in our country but many don’t know that the quality is accessed on the basis of departments as well. For example, an IIT might be the best engineering institution in the country but its Civil Engineering or Electronic Engineering Department might not be able to get an NBA Accreditation. Even as it is tough to get an NBA accreditation, one expects at least an IIT department to get it,” said a senior official in NBA. According to sources in the Board, the central government is now planning to link autonomy of technical institutions to their NBA accreditation so that the institutions work more on improving the quality of their departments.

“Even when NBA accreditation is given to a programme or department and not to an institution as a whole, the Ministry of Human Resource Department is working on a plan to link accreditation to autonomy. This would depend on the number of programmes that have been given accreditation or the points that they have been awarded to them. Ministry feels by doing so, institutions will work harder to improve every department, ” said a source in the Ministry. The accreditation is given for 3-6 years after which departments take their own time in reapplying for the accreditation but now the Board is going to renew it only on the basis of the compliance report from the departments. “They will get accreditation only if the compliance report is up to the mark, so that there is a continuous process followed by these institutions,” said the officer in NBA.

Linking autonomy

According to sources in the Board, the central government is now planning to link autonomy of technical institutions to their NBA accreditation so that the institutions work more on improving the quality of their departments. – Courtesy

‘Centre for making accreditation mandatory for engineering courses’

The Hindu | Tiruchi, October 06, 2017 | Tiruchirapalli |   Special Correspondent |

Engineering colleges should aim for getting autonomous status: NBA Chairman

Surendra Prasad, Chairman, National Board of Accreditation, speaking at the National Institute of Technology, Tiruchi, on Thursday. | Photo Credit: HANDOUT

The Centre is contemplating a plan to make accreditation mandatory for programmes offered by engineering colleges, said Surendra Prasad, Chairman, National Board of Accreditation (NBA). Speaking to reporters here after inaugurating a three-day national workshop on “Technical Education in National Context: Challenges and Strategies” at National Institute of Technology, Mr. Prasad said that accreditation of engineering courses was still voluntary. However, the Centre has mooted an idea of making accreditation of engineering courses mandatory and discussions were on at different levels. The National Board of Accreditation, which was one of the signatories of Washington Accord, had aired its view to the Centre on the issue.

“I personally feel that mandatory proposal is not a good idea. If the colleges possess good infrastructure and faculty, they will automatically apply for accreditation as it will help them to get students for accredited courses,” Mr. Prasad said. However, a decision on the matter rested with the Centre. Mr. Prasad, who was also Chairman of National Institute of Ranking Framework (NIRF), said engineering colleges should aim for getting autonomous status. If the majority of programmes were accredited, they could become eligible for autonomy, which would give the colleges freedom to frame curriculum as per the contemporary requirements. The engineering colleges and institutes that had tier-II accreditation of NBA for the courses would have global recognition as NBA was a dignitary to the Washington Accord, which was an international agreement between bodies responsible for accrediting engineering degree programmes.

To a question, Mr. Prasad said that colleges and institutes in South India had been doing well on getting tier-I accreditation. Colleges in Tamil Nadu had a longer history and they were facing a greater amount of survival challenges. Hence, they were keen on getting tier-I accreditation. NBA would conduct awareness programmes on the importance of NBA accreditation wherever necessary. Earlier, speaking at the workshop, Mr. Prasad said higher learning institutions such as IITs and NITs should focus on framing professional curriculum that should be dynamic in content and delivery. Faculty members should be encouraged to engage the students in discussions, which will help them to understand their own interests better. Jandhyala BG Tilak, former vice-chancellor, National University of Educational Planning and Administration, said that the higher learning institutes should focus on three E’s of development goals – expansion, equity and excellence. Mini Shaji Thomas, Director, NIT-T, presided. G. Kannabiran, Principal Co-ordinator of the workshop and others spoke. – Courtesy

Education reforms: Rating by private bodies, 3-tier autonomy for institutions

Hindustan Times | Jun 10, 2017 | Chetan Chauhan |  Chetan Chauhan |

The top-ranked institutions would get full academic and administrative autonomy while the lowest ranked institutions would remain under the government control.

In a major reform, the government plans to outsource assessment and accreditation of the higher education institutions to private bodies and give full autonomy — academic, financial and administrative — to the top ranked institutions, Niti Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya told HT. This is part of the higher education reform package being finalised by the National Institution for Transforming India (Niti) Aayog and the HRD ministry. The Prime Minister’s Office in March had asked them to prepare a blueprint for higher education reform that breeds academic excellence in top institutions of the country. “The reform package is almost ready,” Panagariya said. “For this, we will have to amend or replace the University Grants Commission (UGC) law. The call will be taken by Parliament”. Reforms in higher education sector had been under discussion for a long time but the government had failed to implement them because of resistance from within. More than a decade ago, the National Knowledge Commission constituted by the UPA government had recommended slew of reforms including disbanding the two higher important higher education regulators the UGC and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and proposed an overarching higher education regulator. But, the recommendations remained on paper because of opposition by the HRD ministry and the two bodies.

Before introducing a higher education regulator, the National Democratic Alliance government has decided to set in motion the reforms by making third party mandatory accreditation for all public and private higher education institutions to ensure transparency and quality.  “We want credible private agencies should assess institutions in private agencies,” Panagariya said, adding that even sovereign rating in the United States is done by the private agencies. “The accreditation would be based on academic and research outcome”.  The National Accreditation and Assessment Council (NAAC) has evaluated only 10% of about 10,000 higher education institutions in India and the government wants to bring all institutions under accreditation in the next three years. For this, proposal is to rope in private rating agencies. Autonomy of institutions is the next big reform the government would implement, Panagariya said. The government plans to introduce a three-tier autonomy mechanism in which the institutions having ranked on the top by the HRD ministry will get full academic, administrative and financial autonomy. It would mean these institutions will be free to introduce new courses and schools, revamp curriculum, appoint faculty including from foreign universities and approve research projects. Middle-ranked institutions will have higher autonomy than their current level. It would mean they would be free to introduce new courses and appoint faculty but will have to take approval of the funding agency (HRD ministry) to start new schools and appoint foreign faculty.  The institutions ranked poor would remain under the government control. Sources said that the reforms are being anchored in the Prime Minister’s Office and the changes are being made as suggested by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the review in March 2017. – 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

Clarivate Analytics, National Board of Accreditation (NBA) and INFLIBNET Collaborate to Provide Web of Science Data for the NIRF

Dataquest Online | November 20, 2016  |

Clarivate Analytics, formerly the IP & Science business of Thomson Reuters was selected to provide research metrics from Web of Science for the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF). Data from the Web of Science will be one of the multiple parameters used to analyze over 3,000 academic institutions and rank them based on a combined framework developed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). Clarivate will conduct this analysis in collaboration with the National Board of Accreditation (NBA) and INFLIBNET (Information and Library Network Centre), as formalized in a three-part Memorandum of Understanding signed here. The Indian government plans to release its ranking in April of 2017. In addition to an overall ranking, it will include rankings within specific disciplines such as engineering, medicine, pharmacy, architecture, law and management. A key change in the NIRF for 2017 is the inclusion of research quality metrics in granting the research score to each institute. The Category Normalized Citation Impact is one such research quality metric. This normalizes the citation count for each article for publication year and subject category. An additional research quality metric used is the number of highly cited papers as featured in the Web of Science database. This recognizes the leading papers in a particular field based on the number of citations it has received.

“The National Institutional Ranking Framework promises to catalyze academic and research excellence in Indian academic institutions. The introduction of research quality metrics in NIRF will also reward and encourage quality research,” said Arvind Pachhapur, South Asia Head, Clarivate Analytics. The Web of Science database provides a single destination to access the most reliable, integrated, multidisciplinary research. Used by over 7,000 research organizations across the world, Web of Science consists of seven citation databases including sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities covering impactful scientific research from scholarly books, journals, conference proceedings, published data sets and patents. Web of Science data has been used in other global rankings such as Shanghai Jiao Tong Academic Ranking of World Universities, Reuters Top 100 most innovative Asian universities and the CWTS Leiden Ranking. –  Courtesy