Selecting an educational institute for your child could become a considerably easier task. The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) will soon start grading institutes on the basis of quality of education and infrastructure, something on the lines of what is done in the developed world.
The National Board for Accreditation — an autonomous body under the AICTE — has submitted a report recommending grading of education institutions as a whole rather than just grading the courses (the present format of AICTE), a move confirmed by AICTE vice-chairperson RA Yadav.
The board was asked to study the present accreditation system of AICTE and recommend some elementary changes. One can gauge the slowness of the accreditation system from that fact that courses in 500 institutions are being given accreditation out of a total of 9,000 under the council's regulation.
AICTE officials, however, blame the eligibility criteria for the slow progress. Only those courses that run successfully for two batches are eligible for accreditation. Thus, for a management course, it is four years and over six years for engineering.
"We started accreditation in 1996 and only a few institutes have become eligible. Accreditation is voluntary and therefore, not many institutes have come forward," explained a senior AICTE official.
The board has suggested major changes in the entire process and called for grading institutes A, B, C or D within a few years of affiliation. It says there should be different levels of facilities, fee structure and quality of education for each category, so that a student knows what an A category institute or a C category institute offers. "It will make admissions much more transparent," an official commented.
Though gradation will remain voluntary, officials point out that an attempt should be made to encourage grading for institutes. The AICTE could, for instance, offer incentives like more courses and increase in student intake and make it an eligibility criterion for seeking benefits under different scholarship schemes.
The AICTE’s plan falls in the line of the Planning Commission’s recommendations for the 11th five-year plan, which say all educational institutes should be graded. The Commission also suggests that grading agencies in government and in private sector be made responsible if something goes wrong with the assured quality of the institute.