The controversy over NAAC’s system for assessing higher education

Source: The post is based on the article “The controversy over NAAC’s system for assessing higher education” published in Indian Express on 20th September 2022.

What is the News?

National Assessment and Accreditation Council(NAAC) has withheld the results of the rating process for Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda based on allegations that the University unduly tried to influence members of the peer review team that visited the university with gold, cash and other favours.

What is NAAC?

NAAC is an autonomous body under the University Grants Commission (UGC).

It assesses and certifies Higher Education Institutions(HEIs) with gradings as part of accreditation.

The ratings of institutions range from A++ to C. If an institution is graded D, it means it is not accredited.

Can all higher educational institutes apply for accreditation?

Under the rules, only higher education institutions that are at least six years old, or from where at least two batches of students have graduated, can apply. 

The accreditation is valid for five years. Aspiring institutes need to be recognised by the UGC and have regular students enrolled in their full-time teaching and research programmes. 

How is the accreditation process carried out?

The current accreditation approach has been described as “input-based”. In other words, NAAC relies heavily on self-assessment reports of applicant institutions.

The first step has an applicant institution submitting a self-study report of information related to quantitative and qualitative metrics. The data is then validated by NAAC expert teams followed by peer team visits to the institutions.

What are the alternative accreditation approaches being explored by NAAC?

From the prevailing “input-based” approach, the NAAC plans to adopt an “outcome-based approach”. 

This is because the current system is akin to accepting the claim of a PhD candidate that his thesis is of high quality.

On the other hand, in the outcome-based approach, NAAC can ask institutions to provide evidence such as samples of learning materials, continuous assessment tasks and final examinations to show they have outcomes of learning specified in the syllabus.

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