House panel calls for reforms in education sector

Updated on Jul 05, 2022 01:20 AM IST

According to the report, the higher education department of the Union ministry of education informed the committee only 30% of the universities and 20% of the colleges are in the accreditation system.

New Delhi, India - June 19, 2018: Delhi university aspirants fill their admission form for the new academic session 2018-19 at Ramjas College in New Delhi, India, on Tuesday, June 19, 2018. (Photo by Sanchit Khanna/ Hindustan Times) (Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)
New Delhi, India - June 19, 2018: Delhi university aspirants fill their admission form for the new academic session 2018-19 at Ramjas College in New Delhi, India, on Tuesday, June 19, 2018. (Photo by Sanchit Khanna/ Hindustan Times) (Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)

Efforts need to be intensified to bring more higher education institutes in India under the formal accreditation system, and all universities and colleges must be scored on how fool proof their examinations are, a parliamentary panel has said in its report disclosed on Monday.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on education, women, children, youth and sports headed by BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member Vinay P Sahasrabuddhe was carrying out a review of education standards, accreditation process, research, examination reforms and academic environment in India’s higher education institutes.

According to the report, the higher education department of the Union ministry of education informed the committee only 30% of the universities and 20% of the colleges are in the accreditation system. “Thus, there is a long way to go as out of 50,000 colleges, there are less than 9,000 [that] are accredited. Accreditation is a procedure wherein standardisation happens as to what minimum benchmarks are to be created. Thus, till a large body of colleges are going towards an accreditation process, the realisation of quality in this entire sphere will be hard to achieve as it is not mandatory at present,” the report stated, citing deposition from the secretary of education.

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Expressing concerns, the panel in its report added: “more efforts to offer incentives to bring institutions under accreditation system is the need of the hour.”

The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 lays a significant emphasis on accreditation, and proposes an accrediting body called the National Accreditation Council. Presently, the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), an autonomous body under the University Grants Commission (UGC), evaluates higher education institutions on a range of parameters, including teaching-learning, research and infrastructure, and gives institutions grades ranging from A++ to C. If an institution is given a D, it means it is not accredited. The grading remains valid for five years.

The committee suggested that issues faced by NAAC and the National Board of Accreditation (NBA), which recognises courses offered by higher education institutions, should be analysed and worked on. “Also, it is recommended that the norms for frequency and periodicity of the accreditations be defined so that institutions do not develop a tendency to carry the score for years without a review, which leads to complacency and undermines quality mechanisms,” the committee stated.

The report added that several state universities regularly fail to carry out assessments smoothly, often reporting instances like question paper leaks and rampant cases of copying. “The committee recommends that the parameter of the institution’s exam management competency be also considered as a mandatory norm towards consideration of accreditation,” the report said, suggesting strict actions, including derecognition, for higher institutions involved in malpractices in collaboration with coaching centres.

Also read: Education ministry invites suggestions from stakeholders for national curriculum

So-called “deemed universities” should also be allowed to use the term ‘university’ since there is no such concept in other countries, the committee also said.

To encourage more funding, the parliamentary panel suggested “donations by individuals, alumni and institutions” should be 100% tax deductible.

It also noted that there was an urgent need to revisit and revamp the norms for starting online courses. “Taking note of the fact that many deemed universities, in order to make quick money, were starting Open Distance Learning courses undermining the qualitative research work, the committee strongly recommends adequate measures to curb such tendencies after carefully examining the options,” the report said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Fareeha Iftikhar is a principal correspondent with the national political bureau of the Hindustan Times. She tracks the education ministry, and covers the beat at the national level for the newspaper. She also writes on issues related to gender, human rights and different policy matters.

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