We need to reinforce NAAC instead of discrediting it, UGC chairperson M Jagadesh Kumar tells TOI’s Manash Gohain. Excerpts from the interview:
There are some serious allegations against the functioning of NAAC?
nAccreditation and ranking are complex tasks requiring continual upgradation… do not consider aberrations as a norm. Having said this, I am mindful that the qualitative and quantitative methods used by NAAC need careful examination and improvements. We need to reinforce NAAC instead of discrediting it to stimulate our educational institutions to recast themselves to provide high-quality education. UGC and the education ministry are pursuing the issues raised about NAAC and will demonstrate robust education reforms in the coming time.
A former chairperson of NAAC who stepped down recently alleged vested interest, malpractices, and nexus in the grading process…
n NAAC is an autonomous body funded by UGC. Its executive committee evolves policies collectively for assessment and accreditation. In case of possible malpractices and nexus in the grading process, the committee has full autonomy to set up a panel and work out solutions to avoid undesirable practices eroding the system’s transparency. As a first measure, UGC has recently appointed a new chairman and is in the process of selecting a new director. They will examine every aspect of NAAC’s functioning and mend the fault lines.
An inquiry committee has red-flagged several irregularities, including that the council’s IT system was found to be compromised… assessors barely visited sites… and individuals without authority were provided full access to NAAC’s internal system.
nNAAC’s accreditation process has two steps – quantitative analysis based on data provided by the institutions and qualitative study based on a visit by an expert committee to the institution. The former has 70% weightage and the latter 30%. Recently, NAAC has brought in several changes in its online portal to simplify data uploading by institutions. For data validation and verification (DVV) of the qualitative analysis, NAAC has also roped in institutions of national importance, such as IITs, to strengthen the process. During expert visits to the institutions, if there are any complaints, such experts are debarred from participating in future visits. NAAC’s internal processes and the software that handles expert selection for physical visits are continuously being improved. With the increasing number of institutions participating in accreditation, the internal processes must be further strengthened using the technology, and NAAC is working on it.
CAG also found discrepancies in the inspections being carried out by NAAC which resulted in awarding inaccurate grades to several institutions?
nThe mechanism under NAAC takes any such feedback seriously and tries to tighten loose ends to safeguard the internal processes of NAAC. We need a stronger NAAC with transparent, objective and error-free functions. Finding a solid correlation between NAAC accreditation and NIRF ranking may not be possible in some cases since both systems have different parameters and processes. We observe this even in world university rankings. But there is no doubt that NAAC must continually improve its processes. NAAC is determined to do everything possible to strengthen and improvise the assessment and accreditation process of higher education institutions (HEIs) in the country.
Is the government planning to overhaul the accreditation process?
n The ministry of education has already constituted a committee under the chairmanship of K Radhakrishnan, former chairman of Isro, to strengthen the accreditation process. UGC also formed a committee headed by Surinder Prasad, former director of IIT-Delhi, and another committee headed by M K Sridhar, member of the EC of NAAC. UGC has provided the recommendations of these committees to Radhakrishnan’s committee. We will consider all these recommendations to prepare the final measures to strengthen NAAC further.
Source: The Times of India