One in Three Proposals Graded by NAAC; Can Accreditation Usher in Quality in Higher Education
Mumbai, March 1 -- The country's higher education sector recently crossed an important milestone when the number of colleges which applied for the National Accreditation and Assessment Council (NAAC) grading tripling from an annual average of 800 to 3000 in 2013.
The country has around 36,000 colleges and less than 15% of them have applied for grading. The increasing number of colleges applying for grading will have far-reaching repercussions on the quality of education at higher education institutes. But, with one in every three proposals making the final cut for grading according to NAAC, government officials, experts and students say that accreditation linked to funding alone can't drive quality in higher education or choosing an institute for learning.
According to the ministry of human resource development data, more private higher-education institutions account for about 64% of the total HEIs, majority of which do not go for accreditation. Experts say that the recognition-based accreditation will help capture this section. "Although accreditation has been made mandatory for funding, a substantial number of private institutions don't receive grants under this system. Across the board, grading should be made compulsory to run a college by linking it to recognition," said R Govinda, vice-chancellor of National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA) and Member of the Central Advisory Board of Education, MHRD.
Studies like the UNESCO's Global Monitoring Report on Education for All for 2013-14 identify that to achieve quality in education, governments must provide teaching faculty with the right mix of incentives to encourage them to remain in the profession. "We need to invest more in teaching and research output to get more teachers and address low availability. While the teachers are exploited at privately-financed institutions that pay low salaries, ad-hoc teachers are employed by eminent universities in the country despite a good strength of full-time faculty," said Govinda.
"There have to be more incentives to make higher education more attractive failing which the faculty don't update their skills or curricula. For example, regularly monitoring their tenure by making participation in peer review journals compulsory will aid progress in quality," said Amit Thorat, associate fellow, National Council of Applied Economic Research, which is conducting a country-wide Human Development survey with a special youth questionnaire.
Students pursuing higher-education in the country say that while accreditation helps them choose a good college, it does not guarantee that every course in an institution is of the best standards. "I chose a college going by the ratings besides asking seniors. While the other departments' faculty were good, those teaching me were not. So ratings tend to be misleading if you look at the departments," said Reshma Halder, a Physics graduate who is currently pursuing a Mass Communication course from Jadavpur University, Calcutta.
"It becomes important to look at the ratings to make an informed choice but you end up choosing a college over the course. Students mostly opt for the celebrated colleges paying scarce attention to the quality of teaching or content in a particular department," said Prashant Singh, who has an Msc in Chemistry from IIT-Bombay, is currently pursuing MA in Sociology from Mumbai University. …