Under a new set of guidelines developed by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), colleges and universities that have completed even one academic year will be eligible to apply for provisional accreditation. According to the guidelines, the move aims to “widen the horizon of accreditation”.
Until now, only those higher education institutions that are at least six years old, or from where at least two batches of students have graduated, could apply for NAAC accreditation.
These criteria, and the fact that not many institutions actually apply for review, had led to a situation where very few of the 51,000 colleges, universities, and standalone institutions in the country possess NAAC grading.
The NAAC, which is an autonomous institution established under the UGC Act, evaluates the institutions of higher education on a range of parameters, including their governance structure, teaching and learning, research, infrastructure, and financial well-being among others. Based on these parameters, the NAAC gives institutions grades ranging from A++ to C. If an institution is given a D, it means it is not accredited.
According to official data, as of October 26, 2021, the NAAC has issued 13,971 accreditations, which remain valid for five years. There are only 12 universities and 64 colleges that have been reviewed by the NAAC four times, with a gap of five years between each grading.
Under the new guidelines, provisional accreditation for colleges (PAC) is essentially geared to ascertain the readiness of institutions for the final NAAC accreditation.
Institutions that apply for the PAC process will get feedback regarding the areas they need to work on to reach “the threshold level of quality”, according to the manual. The PAC will be valid for two years, and institutions cannot get it more than two times.
UGC chairperson M Jagadesh Kumar is expected to address a webinar on the guidelines on February 23. The guidelines were communicated to colleges on January 23.
The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 lays major emphasis on accreditation. It envisages a “meta-accrediting body” called the National Accreditation Council. According to the NEP, “Through a suitable system of graded accreditation and graded autonomy, and in a phased manner over a period of 15 years, all Higher Education Institutes in India will aim to become independent self-governing institutions pursuing innovation and excellence.”
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