CUET To Endeavor On Unifying The Accrediting And Ranking Bodies

A committee has been set up to explore ways of merging NAAC and NBA to form a single accreditation and ranking system, which is one of the key features of the National Education Policy (2020).

After making a strong pitch for the merger of national-level engineering and medical entrances with the Common University Entrance Test (CUET-UG), the union government is now keen on also merging the accreditation (NAAC) and making (NBA) bodies.

While the National Assessment and Accreditation Council or NAAC is the only government agency authorized to accredit universities and colleges, the National Board of Accreditation or NBA is tasked with accrediting only technical education institutions. Additionally, the latter is in charge of publishing the NIRF, a yearly ranking of colleges and universities.

A committee headed by Bhushan Patwardhan, Chairman of the executive committee of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council, has been established by the Ministry of Education (MoE) to begin the process of developing a single accreditation and ranking system, one of the recommendations of the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP) (NAAC).

The action is significant since it follows UGC chairman Jagadesh Kumar’s recent statement that the NEET, JEE Main, and CUET-UG exams would be combined. The government is also planning to combine AICTE and UGC into the Higher Education Commission of India, or HECI, a single, all-encompassing higher education body.

The NEP 2020 prescribes the “setting up a meta-accrediting body” called the National Accreditation Council (NAC). At present, “accreditation and ranking of higher educational institutions take place through multiple agencies and frameworks, which operate independently of each other. We have the National Board of Accreditation (NBA) that accredits technical programmes, while the NAAC accredits non-technical or general programmes. According to a source, the National Institute of Ranking Framework (NIRF) ranks all higher education institutions in India. The source also stated that the NEP envisions the formation of the National Advisory Council (NAC), a body that will ensure the coordinated operation of these bodies and align them with NEP goals.

The committee is led by Patwardhan, a former vice-chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC), and includes Dr. Surendra Prasad, the former director of IIT Delhi, and Indranil Manna, the vice chancellor of the Birla Institute of Technology in Ranchi, K. N. Ganesh, the vice-chancellor of the Central University of Hyderabad, B. J. Rao, and Dr. Manju Singh (Joint Secretary, UGC). Singh will serve as the committee’s coordinator.

The NAAC, NBA, and NIRF ranking systems will all be examined by the committee’s six members. Along with developing a framework to align the three to create the proposed NAC, it will suggest a suitable mechanism to enable communication between the bodies.

According to the NEP, “accreditation of institutions will be based in part on basic standards, public self-disclosure, good governance, and outcomes, and it will be carried out by an independent ecosystem of accrediting institutions supervised and overseen by NAAC”.

It adds: “The task to function as a recognized accreditor shall be awarded to an appropriate number of institutions by NAC. In the short term, a robust system of graded accreditation shall be established, which will specify phased benchmarks for all HEIs to achieve set levels of quality, self-governance, and autonomy”.

Source: The Indian Express

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