The University Grants Commission will soon ask all universities and colleges in India to have an internal quality assurance cell to improve the quality of higher education being imparted.
A decision to make setting up of these cells under the UGC Act, 1956 was taken at the commission’s meeting last week, UGC sources said. This is being seen as the first step for introduction of mandatory accreditation for universities by 2010 and for colleges by 2012 as envisaged under the 11th plan.
By making the creation of these cells mandatory, the UGC aims to provide an internal mechanism to improve the quality of education in institutes of higher learning “It is significant that such an internalisation of quality would be invaluable in the enhancement of the quality within the institution,” a UGC official said.
Under the voluntary mechanism for setting up the cells in accredited institutes, the cells have been set up only in 100 universities and 2,000 accredited colleges. Till now, only 140 of total 390 universities and 3,972 colleges of 19,000 colleges have got accreditation done from National assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), a government body based in Bangalore.
Now, the UGC want to reverse this trend by giving financial incentive of Rs five lakh to universities and Rs two lakh to colleges to set up this cell. In the new draft scheme floated by the commission, the cell will be required to have a full-time director to look into quality aspects of education. The cell would be helped by an advisory body to be headed by the chairman of the institution.
The cell would be required to develop and apply quality parameters for various academic and administrative activities, would be nodal office for maintaining institutional data and would arrange for feedback from students on quality issues. It would also prepared annual quality assurance report to be submitted to UGC and NAAC, which would also be available for public viewing.
The UGC is also working on new regulations to make accreditation mandatory for all higher education institutions under the UGC Act. Dr S S Rathi, a member of Delhi University court, however, said that practical approach is that NAAC should target the private universities and other private institutions where commercial returns are the sole guiding factors.
UGC, however, believes that mandatory accreditation will help the parents and the students to make informed choice of the courses and institutions, as NAAC would grade the institutions on different parameters. It will also help the institutions to augment its quality through proper introspection of its present status, a UGC official said.
UGC says NAAC has geared up for the challenge by creating a pool of about 300 assessors to undertake the mammoth job.