By RAMESH BEHL, DIRECTOR, International Management Institute, Bhubaneswar
The National Assessment and Accreditation Council, or NAAC, is a prestigious organization in India that evaluates and accredits higher education institutions (HEIs). Established in 1994 by the University Grants Commission (UGC), NAAC was created with the aim of improving quality of education across the country by evaluating the performance of HEIs and providing them with feedback on how to improve their standards. This is reflected in their vision statement which aims “To make quality the defining element of higher education in India through a combination of self and external quality evaluation, promotion and sustenance initiatives.” The mission statement of NAAC is presented below:
THE MISSION STATEMENT OF NAAC
• To arrange for periodic assessment and accreditation of institutions of higher education or units thereof, or specific academic programmes or projects.
• To stimulate the academic environment for promotion of quality in teaching-learning and research in higher education institutions.
• To encourage self-evaluation, accountability, autonomy and innovations in higher education.
• To undertake quality-related research studies, consultancy and training programmes, and
• To collaborate with other stakeholders of higher
The accreditation framework of NAAC is based on the following five core values (a) Contribution to National Development (b) Fostering Global Competition amongst Students (c) Inculcating a value system amongst students (d) Promoting use of technology and (e) Quest for Excellence. Based on the defining core values the accreditation process carried out by NAAC is an extremely rigorous and comprehensive process. Over the period of time NAAC accreditation framework has moved away from a qualitative peer judgement process to a more objective quantitative indicator-based process. HEIs are evaluated on a variety of factors, including teaching and learning, research and innovation, governance and leadership, infrastructure and learning resources, and student support and progression. The assessment process is carried out in multiple stages which are described below:
• Stage I Institutional Information for Quality Assessment (IIQA) Phase: This phase is akin to establishing eligibility of the institute for Assessment and Accreditation (A&A). In this phase, the HEI has to fill up a template on the NAAC portal along with All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) code. HEIs desirous of applying for NAAC can do so any time of the year. Duly filled in IIQAs of eligible HEIs are accepted by NAAC for further processing. In case of rejection of IIQA applications specific suggestions are given to HEIs to facilitate them to resubmit IIQA. An institution can reapply twice after the first attempt resulted in rejection. That is, each HEI is permitted three attempts in a year, with a single fee. After this, it will be considered a fresh application with required fees.
Stage II Self Study Report (SSR) Phase: Within 45 days of the approval of the IIQA, the HEIs have to submit a comprehensive self-study report along with all data / documents of the past five years on the NAAC portal. The SSR constitutes of both qualitative and quantitative metrics and covers the following areas (1) Curricular Aspects (2) Teaching Learning and Evaluation (3) Research, Innovations and Extensions (4) Infrastructure and Learning Resources (5) Student Support and Progression (6) Governance, Leadership and Management and (7) Institutional Values and Best Practices. These seven criteria account for 1000 point. Allotment of point distribution over the seven categories vary on the basis of whether the HEI is a university or an affiliated College or an autonomous College. Quantitative metrics cover roughly 700 points and the remaining 300 is under qualitative metrics.
Stage III Data Verification and Validation (DVV)Phase:In this phase, the quantitative metrics are assigned to agencies empanelled by NAAC to carry out the DVV. The name of these agencies is not disclosed to the HEI. These agencies verify and validate the data and raise queries. The queries become available to HEI once the DVV process is complete. The HEI has to answer the queries raised within 15 days of them being raised on the portal.
Stage IV Student Satisfaction Survey (SSR) Phase: This stage happens simultaneously with the DVV phase. The HEIs are required to load student details simultaneously with SSR and anonymised feedback is taken from the students on 20 objective and 1 subjective question. Only those questions which have garnered more than 10% of the response of the total number of students enrolled in the HEI are taken into consideration. A HEI compulsorily needs to clear the SSR stage before the PTV phase is initiated.
Stage V Peer Team Visit (PTV) Phase: The penultimate phase is the Peer Team Visit Phase in which a team of experts, visit the institution and evaluate it against qualitative criteria for 300 points. The evaluation is based on a range of data, including documentation provided by the institution, interviews with faculty, staff, and students, and observations of the physical infrastructure.
Once the entire process is covered NAAC releases the overall grade point average on a 0-4 scale. A score of 1.50 or less indicates that the HEI has failed the accreditation process and would not be accredited. The HEI which has scored more than 1.5 are given one of the following grades – C, B, B+, B++, A, A+, A++ based on the score that they have achieved.
BENEFITS OF NAAC ACCREDITATION
The benefits of NAAC accreditation are manifold. For one, it provides an objective and independent assessment of the quality of an institution, which can be used to identify areas for improvement and to set targets for future development. It also provides a benchmark against which institutions can compare themselves with their peers and can be used as a means of attracting students and faculty, as well as funding and grants. It provides an external validation of an institution’s efforts towards maintaining high standards of education. Accreditation by NAAC is also essential for institutions seeking funding from government agencies such as the UGC and the Department of Science and Technology (DST). Institutions with higher grades are more likely to receive funding from these agencies. It also helps institutions attract collaborations and partnerships with other institutions and organizations.
Perhaps most importantly, NAAC accreditation is a sign of quality and excellence. Institutions that have been accredited by the NAAC are recognized for their commitment to providing high-quality education and for their efforts to continuously improve and innovate. This recognition can be invaluable in today’s competitive higher education landscape, where students and faculty are increasingly seeking out institutions that offer the best possible education and opportunities.
HOW IS NAAC DIFFERENT FROM NBA?
NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation Council) and NBA (National Board of Accreditation) are both accreditation bodies in India, but they differ in terms of their scope and focus. NAAC accredits universities and colleges based on a range of criteria, including teaching-learning processes, research, infrastructure, student support, and governance. On the other hand, NBA accredits specific technical programs, such as engineering, management, and pharmacy, based on predefined criteria related to curriculum, faculty, facilities, research, and industry interface. NBA accreditation focuses more on the specific programs offered by an institution.
Another significant difference is that NAAC accreditation is mandatory for universities and colleges to receive government funding, while NBA accreditation is not mandatory but is often seen as a benchmark of quality in technical education.
Both NAAC and NBA are for 1000 points – but how they are evaluated are different. In NAAC 700 marks are evaluated by the DVV process (Quantitative Metrics) and only 300 points are in the hands of the peer team. As opposed to this NBA peer team has the control of full 1000 points.
NAAC accreditation is not a one-time event but an ongoing process. Institutions are required to submit Annual Quality Assessment Reports (AQAR) every year to maintain their NAAC accreditation. NBA on the other hand gives an accreditation for 3 or 5 years and there is no annual requirement.
Obtaining NAAC accreditation is not an easy task. It requires a great deal of effort and investment on the part of the HEI and can take several years to complete. Institutions must be willing to invest in infrastructure, resources, and staff development, as well as to engage in continuous self-evaluation and improvement.Despite the challenges, NAAC accreditation is an essential component of the higher education system in India. It provides a means of ensuring that institutions are meeting the highest standards of quality and excellence and helps to promote a culture of continuous improvement and innovation. For students and faculty, NAAC accreditation is a sign that an institution is committed to providing the best possible education and opportunities and is a key factor in choosing where to study or work. In short, NAAC accreditation is an essential part of the higher education landscape in India and is an important indicator of quality and excellence.