After establishing a solid case for combining national-level engineering and medical entrance exams with the Common University Entrance Test (CUET-UG), the union government is now interested in combining accreditation (NAAC) and ranking (NBA) agencies.
While the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) is the only government entity authorized to certify universities and colleges, the NBA is only authorized to accredit technical education institutions. Every year, the latter is also in charge of releasing the annual rating of higher education institutions, generally known as the NIRF.
The process of developing a single accreditation and ranking system, one of the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP) proposals, has begun, with the Ministry of Education (MoE) forming a committee led by Bhushan Patwardhan, chairman of the executive committee of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC).
The action is crucial in light of UGC chairman Jagadesh Kumar’s recent declaration regarding integrating the NEET, JEE Main, and CUET-UG. The government is also attempting to merge the AICTE and the UGC into a single overarching higher education body known as the Higher Education Commission of India, or HECI.
The NEP 2020 calls for the establishment of a “meta-accrediting organization” known as the National Accreditation Council (NAC). Currently, “accreditation and rating of higher educational institutions are carried out through several authorities and frameworks that function independently of one another.” The National Board of Accreditation (NBA) certifies technical programs, whereas the NAAC certifies non-technical or general programs. According to a source, the National Institute of Ranking Framework (NIRF) evaluates all higher educational institutions in India. “The NEP envisions the development of NAC, a body which would ensure the coordinated operation of various entities and connect them to NEP aims.”
Indranil Manna (vice-chancellor, Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra in Ranchi), K N Ganesh (professor, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Tirupati), Dr Surender Prasad (former director, IIT Delhi), B J Rao (vice-chancellor, Central University of Hyderabad), and Dr Manju Singh are members of the committee headed by Patwardhan, a former vice-chairman of the University Grants Commission (joint secretary, UGC). Singh will serve as the committee’s coordinator.
The NAAC, NBA, and NIRF accreditation methodologies will be studied by the six-member group. It would offer a proper method to enable communication between the entities, as well as a framework to align the three to form the proposed NAC.
According to the NEP, “institutional accreditation will be based largely on basic standards, public self-disclosure, good governance, and outcomes, and will be carried out by an independent ecosystem of accrediting institutions regulated and controlled by NAC.”
It continues, “The job of functioning as a recognized accreditor shall be assigned to a suitable number of institutions by NAC.” In the medium term, a strong system of graded certification will be implemented, with staged targets for all HEIs to reach predetermined levels of quality, self-governance, and autonomy.”